Factory farms have become a hot topic in Iowa. With over 10,000 factory farms in the state, it makes sense that we would be talking about them. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently released a new figure estimating that there are 23.6 million hogs in Iowa, which is a 4 percent increase since 2017. These factory farms produce 380 billion pounds of manure annually. This volume of manure — about 14.6 million cubic feet — would fill Iowa’s tallest building, the Principal Building in Des Moines, 2.3 times every day. When is enough enough?
We do not need to be producing this much meat. Iowans aren’t consuming all of it. In fact, Americans aren’t even consuming most of it. In 2015, Japan was the leading export market for Iowa’s pork. Iowans get the pollution, and factory farm corporations get the profits. With over 750 impaired waterways (mostly as a result of industrial agriculture), failing rural economies, and rising toxic air pollution, factory farms are not worth it. Yet, we’re adding 300 to 600 new factory farms annually.
Food & Water Watch and Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement are calling for a moratorium on all new and expanding factory farms. The industry isn’t going to fix itself, and it’s clear Iowa DNR has no interest in enforcing our environmental laws or appropriately regulating factory farms. We need bold action and we need it now.
Elected officials and candidates are beginning to take note. Now is the time to step up and talk to your county supervisors and your legislators. Call, email, and attend forums. Ask them to support a moratorium on factory farms. Our water, our air, our health, and our rural communities depend on it.
Emma Schmit, Rockwell City