JFAN Letter to the Editor in the August 3, 2022 Southeast Iowa Union
Every year since 2017, a factory farm moratorium bill has been introduced at the Iowa State House. Yet every year, legislators prevented a fair subcommittee public hearing, legislative discussions, or votes from taking place.
On June 18, the Iowa Alliance for Responsible Agriculture (IARA) gave Iowans a voice at “The People’s Hearing” in Ames. The event drew a myriad of individuals testifying about the ways industrial livestock production damages Iowans and the environment.
Community members shared heartbreaking stories about how CAFOs ruined their lives. Farmers spoke about how the industrial system makes it difficult for independent farmers to survive and for young farmers to start out. A whopping 92% of independent hog farmers have gone out of business since CAFOs came along.
Experts provided information on a wide range of issues including public health threats such as MRSA and environmental asthma, degraded water quality including nitrate and phosphorus pollution, eroded recreational opportunities like the beach advisories at Lake Darling, and lost community rights. Over 50 years of respected, peer-reviewed research back up these experiences.
There are legitimate reasons why 63% support a factory farm moratorium (2019 Johns Hopkins University survey).
I encourage you to view the presentations on the IARA YouTube channel at bit.ly/3zO9aHX
Also in June, the Iowa Supreme Court overturned a 2004 ruling and restored nuisance lawsuit immunity to livestock producers except in exceedingly narrow circumstances. Lawsuits were already difficult to win. Now they are nearly impossible.
Perhaps most offensively, the Iowa Supreme Court placed the interests of the pork industry above the interests of everyone else and denied Iowans the inalienable rights guaranteed in our state constitution.
Our state legislators need to fix this. CAFO owners represent less than 1% of Iowa’s population. Our legislators need to start protecting the 99% of Iowans who don’t operate factory farms.
Until we can get a handle on and mitigate the enormous damage CAFOs inflict on Iowans and our natural resources, legislators must pass a factory farm moratorium, a temporary pause in the construction of new or expanding CAFOs.
Talk to your legislators. Encourage them to watch The People’s Hearing. Urge them to support a factory farm moratorium bill when it’s reintroduced during the next legislative session. If you have a story, tell it. They need to hear from you.
The interests of the 99% matter.
Executive Director of Jefferson County Farmers & Neighbors, Inc. (JFAN)