Letter to the editor: Iowa needs a moratorium on factory farming

Pigs in a CAFO (concentrated animal feed operation). — via the United States Geological Survey

By Linda Quinn, Iowa City

Recent reports showcase the severity of our water quality crisis in Iowa. In the midst of a drought, the Des Moines River is now virtually unusable as drinking water because of pollution. Our elected leaders are putting forth half-measures while pollution runs rampant and emissions continue unabated. Factory farms have expanded rapidly in Iowa, pushing out independent family farms in favor of mega operations. Today, with more than 25 million hogs, we house one-third of all factory farm hogs nationwide and absorb all the costs. That cost is our water, our health, and our future.

Food & Water Watch reports that in 2017, factory hog farms in Iowa alone produce 72 billion pounds of manure, which is equal to two and a half times the weight in human sewage produced by New York City. All of that manure has to go somewhere, and all too often it ends up in our waterways, leading to widespread pollution. We cannot afford to put our water on the line for the sake of corporate profits.

As a fourth-generation Iowan, I come from a farming family. The impacts of the factory farming industry are clearly visible in the massive confinement buildings dotting the landscape to polluted creeks.

Iowa was a bastion of independent family farms before the rise of factory farms, and can be again. Creating a better food and farm system starts by establishing a moratorium on factory farms. With the election fast approaching, as a constituent, I thank Sen. Bolkcom for previously supporting a moratorium in the legislature and I urge whoever fills the seat for House District 85 to fully support a moratorium come the 2021 legislative session.