Debate Over CAFOs Continues to Play Out in Iowa

Donnelle Eller reported last week at The Des Moines Register Online that, “Trent Thiele loves feeding and caring for the 3,400 pigs that live less than a half mile from his home.

“‘I truly enjoy coming to work every morning. They’re always in a good mood,’ said Thiele, reaching down to scratch the backs of a few pigs inside the confined feeding operation.

“Without the northeast Iowa business, Thiele said he would be forced to move to a city or town to support his wife and their five children, a common tale in a state that’s seen rural jobs and opportunity drain away over several decades.”

The Register article stated that, “That’s why Thiele, 35, doesn’t understand calls for a moratorium on concentrated animal feeding operations.’I don’t know why we’d want to limit future generations,’ Thiele said, adding that farmers need the fertilizer.

The clamor over confinements has grown louder after one expert estimated Iowa could support 45,700 CAFOs, four times more facilities for pigs, cattle and chickens than currently exist in the state.

Skirmishes between CAFOs and their neighbors have played out across Iowa for at least three decades. In that time, the number of pigs has grown about 60 percent in the nation’s largest pork-producing state as farmers have shifted from smaller to bigger operations.”

Ms. Eller explained that, “Then last summer, a state report revealed satellite imagery had detected 5,000 more confinements than regulators previously knew about, nearly doubling earlier counts and outraging critics.”

Last week’s article added that, “This year, U.S. hog production is forecast to grow 4 percent, but expansion in Iowa is likely to be even stronger, said Dermot Hayes, an Iowa State University economics professor.

Few places are better suited for pork production: Iowa, the nation’s top corn producer, has ample feed, 30 million acres of crops that can use fertilizer that CAFOs create, and a growing number of meatpacking plants to process the animals.”

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