Editorial Examines Pork Production Growth in Iowa

The Des Moines Register editorial board recently stated that, “How much pork can Iowa reasonably produce?

“That debate can’t come soon enough.

“A record number of hogs and pigs were on Iowa farms as of Sept. 1: 22.9 million, up 3 percent from a year ago, according to a U.S. Department of Agriculture report released Thursday. That’s about 7.3 times more pigs than people in the state.”

The opinion item noted that, “More hogs and processing plants bring more jobs and income. But they also bring noxious odors that can make people sick. They threaten water bodies and groundwater — and more than half of the state’s lakes, rivers and streams are already considered polluted.

Instead of debating the right approach to pork production, we have pitched battles at meetings of county supervisors, who are largely powerless to restrict confinement sitings. Instead of finding balance between growth and regulation, our federal and state officials fail us.

“All of this leaves Iowa totally unprepared for an influx of more hogs.”

The Register editorial added that, “Lawmakers, led by Gov. Kim Reynolds, can demand a full accounting of the costs of pork production. And they can find the courage to have a debate over how we divide up paying for those costs.

“If they can’t do these things, then perhaps lawmakers should do what county supervisor boards, rural residents, environmental groups and others have asked. If lawmakers can’t provide more local control, then they should pass a moratorium on new confinements.

“That may not be an ideal solution. But pressing pause may be the only way Iowa can catch up to this fast-growing industry.”

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