Washington Evening Journal
111 North Marion Avenue
Washington, IA 52353
Nature is the great purifier. For eons, sun, rain, soil, the whole complex web of life, has been renewing our planet, keeping it healthy, clean and in balance. Humankind is the only creature with the ability to steward this gift or defy Nature’s wisdom.
When creatures are crowded in a building, never to walk on grass, feel the sun’s rays, or move about naturally, Nature can’t do her job. Hogs can’t be kept healthy in this environment. More antibiotics are necessary, which end up in the humans who eat them.
Microbes grow resistant to the antibiotics, creating more troublesome strains. Animals in CAFOs are reduced to “products” raised in unholy conditions for convenience and greater profit but at a great price.
The cost is a harsh life for hogs, who are sentient beings, smarter than our beloved dogs.
The cost is quality of life for families who live nearby and have to breathe foul air that is causing asthma in children and premature deaths in older people due to pneumonia triggered by those toxins.
The cost is poor quality of water, which is showing signs of foul runoff from fields dressed with lagoon waste. No stream, river or lake will be clean enough to fish or swim in. With 23 million hogs, Iowa now has as much fecal matter from hogs as 168 million people would produce, but with none of the careful management that we require in treating human waste.
If the number of CAFOs is allowed to continue to grow at its current rate, Iowa will be reduced to a factory farm state, unfit to raise a family in. Still the pollution will not be contained for long. It will touch those who tend the hogs, drive the trucks, the environment, and reaching far to people eat the meat all around the globe.
A link has been made between diseases like the COVID-19 pandemic and unethical animal husbandry. The effect can be worldwide and devastating.
When is enough enough?
Our county supervisors can’t say. They can only make recommendations, which are easily swept aside.
The DNR won’t say. Heavy lobbying keeps the CAFOs coming and laws that allow it. To profit a few, we are sacrificing our beautiful state of Iowa, one CAFO at a time.
There is another way. Farmers can produce pork in a sustainable way. Put hogs outdoors, rotating to various fields, naturally fertilizing fields for crops, in a safe, aerobic, less labor intensive manor. This eliminates the need for lagoons, the work of spreading manure, for large CAFO buildings and mammoth feed and water trucks.
Keep operations small, local and the meat high quality. People will pay more for free range, organic, grass fed, antibiotic-free meat. This pioneer thinking is growing as health issues demand change.
Big Ag doesn’t care about farmers, families or quality of life. Neighbors do care. Small farms can be profitable and reflect healthy land stewardship for generations to come.
Opinion content represents the viewpoint of the author or The Gazette editorial board. You can join the conversation by submitting a letter to the editor or guest column or by suggesting a topic for an editorial to email@example.com