December 14, 1998
Iowa Family Farmers Speak Out
Evelyn Lloyd, a retired home economics teacher and member of the United Methodist Church of Coon Rapids, founded the first county chapter of Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (CCI) in her living room several years ago to advocate for family farmers and fight large livestock operations. These days, the Iowa CCI is speaking out to federal and state policymakers.
In 1998, the General Board of Global Ministries provided a $7,000 grant to the Iowa CCI, a nonprofit organization with 1,300 members, to help Iowan farmers like Evelyn Lloyd raise awareness about the environmental havoc hog factories are wreaking in their communities.
On December 4, at a hearing sponsored by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Larry Ginter, a member of the Iowa CCI, told the crowd of several hundred farmers, representatives from the USDA and the EPA, and elected officials like Iowa Senator Tom Harkin, that the EPA proposal for national feedlot regulations does not go far enough to protect the environment or the family farm.
(It was Larry Ginter's mother, Alice Ginter, who drew the attention of country singer Willie Nelson by writing to him about her concerns about hog factories. Subsequently, Willie Nelson came to perform in the parking lot at the Walnut Hills United Methodist Church, Iowa, where he read Ms. Ginter's letter and invited her to share the stage.)
The December 4th hearing in Des Moines, Iowa, was one of eleven held in cities of farm states to help the USDA/EPA report on new measures to improve management of livestock waste.
At the hearing, Larry Ginter said, "Neighbors who live near hog factories are becoming ill. They lose their quality of life, and their property values decline. Moreover, hog factories turn the phrase animal husbandry on its head. They have overproduced, and in some cases now are gassing newborn pigs."
Hog factories, mega-farms that house up to 10,000 hogs, can produce as much waste as a city of 25,000 people. Unlike cities that must treat their sewage, hog farms store their hog waste, frequently in large open lagoons, without treatment. The Environmental Protection Agency reported that agricultural waste, including manure, seeps from containment facilities into streams or groundwater and is the country's largest contributor to water pollution. This pollution can cause skin irritation, headaches, and short-term memory loss.
Over the years, the Iowa state legislature has given free reign to the expansion of hog factories, distressing environmentalists and family farmers like those in the Iowa CCI. The Iowa CCI sees this expansion of hog factories as worrisome because 80 percent of the state's drinking water comes from groundwater sources.
During his allotted five minutes of testimony, Mr. Ginter, representing the Iowa CCI, said, "If the USDA and EPA are to be taken seriously here today, then you need to heed the advice of Albert Einstein. He said, 'the world will not evolve past its current state of crisis by using the same thinking that created the situation.' "
Mr. Ginter proposed four points for the USDA/EPA to consider:
Three weeks prior to the FDA/EPA hearing, Ms. Lloyd and Mr. Ginter were
among 35 people who attended a planning session for a leadership training event
sponsored by the Iowa CCI at the Grace United Methodist Church in West Des
Moines. Ms. Lloyd reported that the attendees decided to invite governor-elect
Tom Vilsack to the next training event to be held in July.
See also:Family Farmers Smell Trouble as Hog Factories Hog the Market by Mary Beth Coudal
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