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Are you willing to take that risk?

Published: Thursday, April 24, 2014 11:22 a.m. CDT

From Karon Finn


Factory: the seat of some kind of production, from Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary (Tenth Edition). Whether you call it CAFO (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation), factory farm, hog confinement, hog facility or a hog unit it still can be devastating to the water, soil, air and families that live near it.

The counties do not receive more revenue from confinements. Confinements do pay taxes but according to a formula adopted by the state of Iowa ag taxes are based on productivity of the land — new building sites for CAFO’s produce no added tax revenue for the county. Any additional revenue is used to lower other agriculture in the county. An Iowa tax assessor stated to me that if a tornado came and blew down all the hog confinements the counties would receive more revenue as they wouldn’t have to give factory hog confinements’ tax breaks for their manure pits.

A letter to the Creston News Advertiser from Rebecca J. Stanley states:

“If anyone cares why the Iowa rural population is declining one only has to look to the massive confinement livestock operations. They are driving the small family farm out of business. If they aren’t driven out economically, the horrendous stench and health concerns push them out.

Your air and water are being destroyed. Meredith Wilson would be so ashamed of what you’ve done to Iowa.”

These quotes sound current and represent the concerns of people today. This letter from Ms. Stanley was printed in the Creston News Advertiser on Tuesday, March 5, 2002.

Do hog confinements affect the property value of nearby homes? Do our roads and bridges need help in rural counties? Is the only state rated worse than Iowa for the quality of its water the state of Mississippi? The answer to all these questions is yes.

My brother, Mike, was in Vietnam for three months fighting on the battlefield. It took over 30 years before physicians decided he had Agent Orange poisoning. The unknown harm to our children and grandchildren won’t be known for years. Are you willing to take that risk?

Without inspectors making unannounced inspections I don’t know if you are being responsible or not. Voluntary, self monitoring doesn’t work. Laws are legislated to curtail the criminals not to harm those who are responsible and protect their neighbors.

The harsh lesson is that there are natural limits to what humans can do, and our society has arrogantly and blindly pushed right up against them. We don’t need to just learn to live with nature. We are nature. We need to learn that we cannot long abuse the natural environment without abusing ourselves.

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