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Iowa Hog Industry Faces More Pushback Over Factory Farms

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Monday, February 26, 2018   

DES MOINES, Iowa — Recent application denials at the county level mean more Iowans see the need for a moratorium on new factory farms, according to Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement.

In 2017, Iowa's Department of Natural Resources approved 450 new or expanded hog factories. Jess Mazour, a farm and environment organizer with Iowa's CCI, said the state has more than 750 impaired waterways from hog manure being dumped on farm fields.

Iowa Select is the largest pork producer in the state and wants to build another 19 factory farms. Mazour said those farms would equate to an additional 90,000 hogs, producing more than 36 million gallons of manure.

"We want a moratorium until there are fewer than 100 polluted waterways in Iowa,” Mazour said; “because we know that in order for Iowa to have fewer than 100 polluted waterways, there has to be real, meaningful, structural change."

The Iowa Pork Producers Association said a moratorium on hog farms would devastate Iowa's economy and livestock producers.

But three Iowa counties have denied four applications for factory farms in recent months. And in January, a coalition of 27 state, community and national organizations called on Iowa state legislators to pass laws that would strengthen regulations on animal feeding operations in Iowa.

Last week, the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors said it may appeal to Iowa District Court over a hog confinement scheduled to be built northwest of Thor. Mazour said Iowa has averaged around 500 new or expanded barns a year in the past decade and is reaching a tipping point.

"But at this point there's no space left in a lot of these counties for it to not impact anyone,” she said. “They're getting closer and closer to people's homes, to parks, to cities, to roads, to waterways because they're just plain and simple running out of room."

The number of hog confinements in Iowa has grown from 722 in 2001 to 10,000 last year, with more than 200 in some counties. In the 2016 U.S. elections, the meat industry contributed roughly $12 million to political campaigns - nearly triple what was spent 15 years earlier.


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