Concerns About Hog Confinements Surface

Donnelle Eller reported on the front page of today’s Des Moines Register that, “Prestage Farms’ $240 million pork processing plant will be about 60 miles from Mary Kaye Johnson’s Clear Lake home, but she’s concerned about the facility’s impact on one of the state’s premiere recreation spots.

“More to the point: Johnson is concerned about the plant — as well as a $264 million slaughter facility coming online in Sioux City next year — bringing dozens of new pig confinements to northern Iowa.”

The Register article indicated that, “About 30 members of the Des Moines-based group asked the Iowa Environmental Protection Commission Tuesday to place a moratorium on allowing new or expanded hog confinements in the state. It’s an issue that the Iowa Legislature would need to decide, said the commission, meeting in Clarion.

“Iowa CCI members pointed to state data through Oct. 25 that show applications for new or expanded animal feeding operations in north-central Iowa are about 36 percent higher than last year — and double the applications through the same time in 2014.”

Ms. Eller noted that, “Despite low corn and soybean prices, the pork industry is fighting losses, making it a difficult time to expand, said Gregg Hora, a Fort Dodge area pork producer.

“‘There’s a lot of red ink,’ said Hora, an Iowa Pork Producers Association board member. ‘We’re not breaking even.’

“One reason for pork’s depressed prices this fall is a shortage of packing capacity, said Dermot Hayes, an Iowa State University agricultural economist.”

Today’s article added that, “The lack of capacity is shifting profits to meatpackers from producers, Hayes said. The new Iowa plants will help bring that back in balance, he said.

“‘It will help producers capture more of the value,’ Hayes said. ‘These two plants will help fix things, but it will take a while.'”

“The group blames the facilities for many of the state’s air and water quality problems, saying manure from the facilities used to fertilize Iowa corn fields pollutes the state’s rivers and lakes,” the Register article said.

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