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Reply to Ms. Evonne Jennett

Published: Friday, March 21, 2014 10:49 a.m. CDT

From Karon Finn


Thank you very much for your letter to the editor.

Rural communities often hear the brunt of agribusiness consolidation. The negative impact of agriculture’s consolidation and industrialization is well documented by nonprofit, nonpartisan organizations. Communities with more medium- and smaller-sized farms have more shared prosperity, including higher incomes, lower unemployment and lower income inequality, than communities with larger farms tied to often-distant agribusinesses.

You say you, your children and your grandchildren are not sick. Thank God. I’m very happy for you and your family. Julie Jansen’s little girl wasn’t so lucky. A little boy born with a serious illness who lived in Clarke County wasn’t so lucky. I remember talking to their mothers, and they were so distraught. People I love ask me why I keep fighting against the Concentrated Animal Feeding Organizations (CAFOs), and I tell them because I have to honor little girls and little boys all over our state of Iowa. I think the greatest love is when you love your neighbors’ children and grandchildren, as well as your own children and grandchildren.

Water quality is a problem in Iowa. I also worry about pollution from any source. Earlier this decade there were more than 8,500 factory hog farms in Iowa and more than 18 million of Iowa’s 20 million hogs were raised in CAFOs — most owned by or under exclusive contract to industry giants such as Smithfield, Cargill, Tyson or Hormel. It is estimated that Iowa’s factory farms produce well over five billion gallons of liquid manure a year. The ground simply can’t hold or use all the nitrates and bacteria being produced by so many hogs. The Department of Natural Resources own estimate states that the Raccoon River watershed, which feeds directly into the Des Moines River, needs a 50 percent reduction in nitrate levels and a staggering 99 percent reduction in E. coli just to come into compliance with federal standards at that time.

Linda Kinman, the policy analyst and watershed advocate at Des Moines Water Works, stated in an article by Ted Genoways in OnEarth magazine titled “Hog Wild: Factory Farms are Poisoning Iowa’s Drinking Water,” that she tells her daughter who lives in a rural community not to give her children tap water but to buy special bottled water for infants in the spring and the fall.

I appreciate, Ms. Jennett, that you spoke out. I have listened to you but I cannot forget the people who are suffering because they have no say in their own government. Their supervisors, legislators and governor have forgotten them. Even though it is not easy to write letters and be an activist against CAFOs, I will continue doing so because I care so much for the people of our great lowa.

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