Letters to the Pilot

Thursday, September 18, 2003

Pork terrorism?


At a rally protesting the construction of a pork facility in western Iowa, a member of an Iowa "community improvement" group likened a local hog farmer to the terrorist Osama bin Laden.

And when a Bloomfield resident and member of the same group was interviewed last year by the Burlington Hawk Eye, he offered the following observation. "My feeling is if a farmer is raising hogs in a confinement, they probably need to be visited by the Department of Human Services because they probably have kids in the closet."

Sadly, this is the level to which members of Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement have stooped to convince lowans that hog production isn't wanted in Iowa. While it's impossible to justify such rhetoric, there is a reason why ICCI members have resorted to likening hog farmers to terrorists and child abusers. Plain and simple, the facts don't support their cause.

There are many stories that ICCI likes to trumpet in an effort to smear the industry. Their favorite, however, is that hog producers don't care about the environment - that they only care about the bottom line.

This statement is false. Producers with livestock facilities larger than 1,000 animal units must apply for permits to build facilities. Producers with facilities larger than 500 animal units must submit detailed manure management plans annually. State inspectors can conduct surprise visits. Despite increased costs, concrete manure storage facilities are used. Those that apply manure to cropland must be certified by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. When applied, nutrients are knifed six inches underground, reducing runoff and the need for other fertilizers.

These efforts work...No system is perfect. Accidents that threaten water quality will happen today, just as they have in the past. The facts, however, show that hog producers do care about protecting the environment. While this isn't what ICCI wants to hear, it is the truth. And in the end, the truth will win.

- Aaron Putze, Iowa Farm Bureau

Aaron Putze, APR. is Director of Public Relations/or the Iowa Farm Bureau

5400 University Avenue * West Des Moines, IA 50266 * 515.225.5414 * www.iowafarmbureau.com