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Food Safety News
December 2nd, 2010

Food & Water Watch’s New Factory Farm Map shows huge increase in factory farms in Iowa

Iowa’s elimination of counties’ local control a major factor in factory farm expansion

Washington, D.C.–The total number of livestock raised in Iowa has increased by more than 51 percent in recent years, finds new analysis released today by the national consumer advocacy organization Food & Water Watch. The organization’s updated Factory Farm Map (www.factoryfarmmap.org), which charts the concentration of factory farms across the country and their subsequent affect on human health, communities and the environment, reveals that livestock units in the state increased from 2.2 million units in 2002 to 3.3 million units in 2007. These numbers place Iowa second only to Texas in the number of factory farm livestock.

Food & Water Watch analyzed U.S. Department of Agriculture Census data from 1997, 2002 and 2007 for beef and dairy cattle, hogs, broiler meat chickens and egg-laying operations, and found that Iowa leads all other states in factory-farmed pork and egg production. The number of hogs on factory farms in Iowa grew by 75 percent between 1997 and 2007, from 10.2 million to 17.9 million. Similarly, the number of egg laying chickens on factory farms increased in that time to 52 million, up 174 percent from 19 million in 1997. The average size of egg farms in the state almost tripled in that time to nearly 1.3 million hens per operation in 2007.

“This updated Factory Farm Map shows the proliferation and concentration of factory farms in Iowa since 1997,” said Matt Ohloff, Iowa-based Organizer for Food & Water Watch. “Coincidentally, in 1995 the state of Iowa revoked counties’ local control over the siting of factory farms, taking away their ability to slow the onslaught of corporate-backed factory farms from moving into the state.”

Throughout the U.S., small and medium-scale livestock farms have given way to factory farms that confine thousands of cows, hogs and chickens in tightly packed facilities. While the number of livestock farms in the U.S. has decreased, the total number of livestock on the largest factory farms rose by more than 20 percent between 2002 and 2007. In that period, the average size of the typical factory farm increased by 9 percent.

The Factory Farm Map indicates that certain regions and states bear the brunt of intensive animal production. This is especially true in Iowa, where the 17.9 million hogs, 1.2 million beef cattle, 52.4 million egg-laying hens, 1 million broiler chickens and 64,500 dairy cows raised on factory farms produce as much untreated manure as the sewage of 471 million people. Manure spills from factory farm operations in Carroll County and Clayton County in recent years have contaminated local drinking and surface water supplies.

The map also shows a high concentration of factory farms across the state. According to the map, the counties most densely populated with factory-farmed animals were Sioux County (330, 567 units), Lyon County (128,047 units) and Plymouth County (120,707 units).

“Food and Water Watch’s new report and updated factory farms map confirms what Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement members have been saying for years about the dangers factory farms pose to our air, water, and rural quality of life,” said Vern Tigges, an independent family farmer and CCI Board President from Carroll, Iowa. “The corporate factory farm industry is environmentally unsustainable and a major contributor to our deteriorating water quality. Iowa Governor-elect Terry Branstad should crack down on factory farm polluters and use his bully pulpit to push for local control, tougher permitting standards, and strong Clean Water Act rules.”

Food & Water Watch also released a companion report, Factory Farm Nation, which explains the forces driving factory farms throughout the U.S., as well as the environmental, public health, and economic consequences of this type of animal production. The report also examines the causes for industrial-scale livestock and the demise of small and medium farms.

The Factory Farm Map and the companion report can be found at www.factoryfarmmap.org.

Contact: Kate Fried, Food & Water Watch: (202) 683-2500; kfried(at)fwwatch(dot)org.

Food & Water Watch works to ensure the food, water and fish we consume is safe, accessible and sustainable. So we can all enjoy and trust in what we eat and drink, we help people take charge of where their food comes from, keep clean, affordable, public tap water flowing freely to our homes, protect the environmental quality of oceans, force government to do its job protecting citizens, and educate about the importance of keeping shared resources under public control.
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