As a small-scale pig farmer who has raised pigs for over 60 years, I want to reply to some points made in a recent editorial I read in an Iowa newspaper.
They wrote many accurate statements. The pork industry is very important to Iowa’s economy, signs of boom are everywhere, Iowa could support more livestock based on fertilizer needs, and I thank them for acknowledging the work pig farmers have done to lessen chances of spills and emissions. How we raise pigs now has also improved water quality. When I was young, a Friday night rain meant skipping out on Saturday’s chore – shoveling manure. Where do you suppose that rain washed our natural fertilizer?
The editorial also includes vague and even untrue points.
The DNR did not “miss” 5,000 hog confinements and cattle lots. The DNR is investigating these buildings discovered on satellite imagery. Though being touted as pig barns, many are not. Like any industry, there can be bad actors, but it’s wrong to infer the majority of farmers look for “loopholes.” No matter what size barn they have, farmers must follow specific sets of rules. It’s not a loophole to make the barn size according to the law. As the size of a barn increases, so do the number of rules, which we work closely with the DNR to meet.
Those calling for a moratorium when the market is calling for more product do not realize how many people that action would affect — not just farmers but others with jobs supported by agriculture. Iowa pig farmers have done a fantastic job adapting to demands, including raising healthy animals, in a good environment, in a sustainable way to create a quality product. I think we need to treat these farmers as though they are the majority. Not the other way around.
Larry Sailer, Iowa Falls