Letter to Editor Submitted in Response to Burlington Hawkeye Article
In the October 11, 2015 edition of the Burlington Hawkeye,
business editor Rex Troute published a column, "Tired of the Tears Over Big Hog Operations." The article was in response to the JFAN Annual Meeting. You can read a hard copy PDF of the article here
In response, JFAN submitted the following letter to the editor. As of November 9, the letter has not been published. We are sharing it with you in full below.
The Facts About CAFOs Speak for Themselves
by Diane Rosenberg | Executive Director, Jefferson County Famers & Neighbors, Inc.
Rex Troute says he’s tired of the “crying over modern hog
production, ” that we can’t go back to the old days, and should just accept
industrial farming in order to efficiently “feed the world.” Anyone can throw
out platitudes to make their point, however statements have more significance when
they are backed by medical, scientific and environmental research. The
Jefferson County Farmers & Neighbors Board of Directors takes exception to
Mr. Troute’s comments and offers the following facts.
We’re going to have to change the way we raise hogs in Iowa because
industrial hog production is destroying rural Iowa and infringing on the
inalienable rights of thousands of Iowans to clean air and water and a good
quality of life. And, yes, there are
alternatives to CAFOs.
To address several of Mr. Troute’s points:
1. It’s a false argument to say rejecting CAFOs is just
yearning for the “old days.” Many Iowans reject CAFOs because of the harm they
cause to health, the environment, property values, rural economies, and quality
of life – all documented in 50 years of scientific research.
2. Alternatives to CAFOs do exist. One example is raising
hogs in hoop house operations using deeply bedded straw. Iowa State University researchers have found
that the cost of raising hogs is comparable to CAFOs. The benefits? They employ
more people, cost less to build, don’t need confinement pits or prophylactic
antibiotics, and are humane. In fact, consumers are getting wise, increasingly
demanding humanely raised, non-CAFO meat, opening up more opportunities for traditional
3. There is no evidence that independent, traditional pork
farmers can’t produce enough food without CAFOs. 80% of the world produces its
food without the benefit of industrial agriculture reports the UN Food and
Agriculture Organization. Until the agribusiness expansion pushed out
independent farmers, thousands of traditional family farms produced plenty of
food for the US and beyond. Yes, we have a larger population to feed than 30
years ago. But had agribusiness expansion not decimated independent producers, the
number of farmers would have grown to meet the demand, and rural communities
would be robust.
3. The foul, debilitating stench from CAFOs is vastly
different than the “smell of money” produced by traditional farms. Today’s hog
manure putrefies for 6-12 months in underground pits devoid of air and light.
It produces over 300 chemicals including 150 gases. Hydrogen sulfide and
ammonia are among the worst, causing headaches, nausea, vomiting, confusion and
respiratory ailments – all documented by peer-reviewed studies.
4. That some hog waste wound up in streams when hogs were on
pasture is a typical industry talking point. But it’s an indisputable fact that
the DNR documents a three-fold increase in impaired waterways over the last 15
years as CAFOs continue to replace traditional farms.
The health, wealth, future, and even heart and soul of rural
Iowa are being sacrificed for corporate profits. Iowa needs more people crying
for a change otherwise Iowa risks becoming the nation’s “throwaway state” for
the benefit of agribusiness interests.