As factory farming has continued to expand and dominate U.S. food production, the intensive, industrial practice has become more and more controversial. And Iowans are leading the fight against it.
Currently, Iowa is home to over 10,000 factory farms. These “farms” employ unsustainable methods of raising food animals. They pack thousands of animals into confined spaces. They’re an enormous public health risk, and they generate massive amounts of waste.
Factory farms in Iowa are responsible for more than 22 billion gallons of manure per year.
The pollution generated by factory farms has resulted in widespread water contamination.
750 water bodies in Iowa - over half of those tested - were found to be impaired in 2014. The vast majority of those impairments are from pollutants and conditions associated with factory farms (read: E. Coli, excessive algal growth and diminished aquatic life).
Among the destruction, besides natural resource contamination, is the rise in antibiotic resistance and public health hazards, including respiratory infections, asthma, skin rashes, nausea and headaches.
In short, factory farms are bad news for public health. And people are suffering.
How This Happened
Meanwhile, Iowa’s Department of Natural Resources - charged with regulating this industry - doesn’t even have accurate records of how many factory farms exist in the state.
The “Master Matrix” is the scoring mechanism used to give communities input about the permitting process… or a way to protect themselves and the environment. However, it's so weak that in its 15 year existence all but 2% of proposals have passed.
Family farmers and rural residents are left feeling like prisoners in their own homes, unable to hold family gatherings or hang laundry outside due to the overwhelming stench and air pollution.
Iowans are not going to stand by and let this continue.
Nearly 25% of Iowa counties, both rural and urban, have passed resolutions in favor of stronger local control.
A coalition of 55 environmental, citizen and agricultural organizations are calling on Iowa’s General Assembly to support legislative proposals for a moratorium on new and expanding factory farms in the state.
This is the first piece of legislation to date that moves beyond failed regulation attempts and focuses on implementing a statewide halt to new construction or expansion of factory farms.
Iowans have exhausted all of their options in trying to rein in this industry, which has wreaked havoc on communities and drinking water.
A moratorium will give legislators an overdue opportunity to evaluate the public health, economic and societal impacts of factory farms while providing Iowa’s communities with important statutory protections from further expansion of this industry.