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Public hearing hog confinement April 14, 2014

Published: Wednesday, April 16, 2014 11:11 a.m. CDT

From Karon Finn


Silence is consent. Martin Luther King Jr. is quoted as saying: “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO’s) are things that matter to the neighbors who live near them.

As consolidation has risen, the contribution of the hog sector to overall economic activity in Iowa has declined. Counties with more hog sales and larger farms tend to have lower total incomes, slower income growth, fewer Main Street businesses and less retail activity.

The addition of new hog confinements reduce the property values of neighboring homes. A 2003 Iowa State University study found that a new large livestock operation could reduce nearby and downwind property values by about 10 percent.

Iowa’s agriculture property tax base formula does not permit county revenues to benefit from more CAFO’s even though there is more stress on county infrastructure like roads and bridges. Counties do not receive more revenue from more and more confinements being built in the county.

A West Virginia quote is “Almost Heaven.” An Iowa quote is “Is this Heaven. No, it’s Iowa.” West Virginia has opened its arms to coal and chemical factories with little regulation and inspections.

Iowa has opened its arms to agriculture corporations with little regulation and inspections.

Neither state has protected its people from the pollution of their water, air and soil. West Virginia suffered a terrible water problem and its citizens are still worried about the water supply safety.

Bill Stowe, Des Moines waterworks manager, has warned Iowa time and time again about the safety of our water.

When Gov. Terry Branstad’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reached an agreement with the Environmental Protection Agency they (the DNR) acknowledged that the expansion of hog confinements was the largest threat to the state’s water quality.

The Union County Supervisors are an autonomous group. You are a free, independent, self-governing entity answerable only to the voters of the county. No matter the score on the Matrix, you can vote no on the expansion of the hog operations.

You can vote no and protect the public health of the citizens of Union County. You can vote no and send a message that in Union County we protect our air, water and soil. You can vote no and receive the same revenue for county roads and bridges.

Hope is a thing of extraordinary power. Don’t take hope away from neighbors of CAFO’s. The governor has crushed their hopes. The Iowa Legislature has suppressed their hopes. The DNR has destroyed their hopes. You, the supervisors, are their last defense.

Do the right thing. Make yourself proud!

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