For Immediate Release: June 18, 2022
Contact: Phoebe Galt, Food & Water Watch, [email protected]
Experts Join Farmers, Advocates and Legislators For People’s Hearing on Urgent Need for Factory Farm Moratorium in Iowa
Speakers gave two hours of testimony on water quality, public health, market consolidation, and effects on farmers, agriculture, and rural communities
AMES, IA — On Saturday, farmers, experts, advocates and legislators gathered at the Ames Public Library for a people’s hearing on the urgent need for a factory farm moratorium in Iowa. The event came on the heels of yet another legislative session without action in Des Moines on the state’s factory farm crisis, and one month after the release of a new Food & Water Watch report, “The Hog Bosses,” detailing the agricultural consolidation crisis in Iowa farm country.
Absent legislative action on the issue, advocates from the Iowa Alliance for Responsible Agriculture, a coalition of more than 25 organizations united against factory farming in Iowa, hosted the two-hour people’s hearing to present constituent demands and expert perspectives on the necessity of a factory farm moratorium in Iowa. Hours of testimony reflected the diverse criticisms of the industrial factory farming model, and highlighted local impacts on the lives of Iowans from all corners of the state. Topics discussed included water quality, public health, market consolidation, and the impacts factory farms have on community members’ quality of life and on farmers’ ability to make a living.
A recent poll commissioned by Food & Water Action found that 95% of Iowa voters support rules that make it easier for small farmers to compete with large agricultural corporations, and a 2019 study found that 63% of Iowa voters support legislation to stop factory farm expansion and corporate monopolies in our food system.
Food & Water Watch Senior Iowa Organizer John Aspray, Chair of the Iowa Alliance for Responsible Agriculture issued the following statement:
“The factory farm system is crushing Iowa. For decades, Iowans have seen independent family farms forced into bad contracts with corporate giants in order to survive, small businesses shutter their doors, and our waterways and drinking water devastated by this model of industrial agriculture.
“Today, community members, farmers, and experts from all across Iowa came together to bear witness to the tremendous suffering our people, state, and environment are undergoing at the hands of corporate agribusiness and their legislative enablers. Our hearing underlined the criticisms of a model that many of our legislators have been too weak to confront.
“Iowa legislators must listen to us, their constituents, as we state loud and clear that it is high time to put an end to factory farms’ relentless growth in our state. We must pass a factory farm moratorium in Iowa and our federal representatives must pass the Farm System Reform Act.”
A full quote list from event participants is below. A recording of the event is available here.
Iowa Alliance for Responsible Agriculture’s
People’s Hearing: The Case for a Factory Farm Moratorium
In addition to the statement in our press release, many of today’s participating individuals and organizations have submitted quotes for use by the media in coverage of the event and this issue. Which are included below:
Francis Thicke, former USDA soil scientist and current farmer
“Clearly, many rural Iowans are suffering miserably from the oppression of CAFOs. Their air, water quality, property values, quality of life, and even their health are being compromised by these industrial livestock factories. Everyone knows that is not right, and it is shameful that the Iowa Legislature allows this to continue to happen, just because they are afraid of the power of the industrial agriculture lobby.”
Iowa State Senator Claire Celsi
“Large animal confinements in Iowa are contributing greatly toward declining quality of life and the contamination of our surface water. Nutrients and bacteria in our waterways are causing a drinking water crisis and rendering many of our water bodies useless for public recreation. The land cannot sustain more CAFOs, and I urge my legislative colleagues to support a moratorium on building new CAFO facilities in Iowa.”
Chris Petersen, Senior Regional Representative, Socially Responsible Agriculture Project:
"CAFOs are not welcome in rural neighborhoods. These industrial-size animal factories drive independent family farmers off the land, pollute our air and water, treat livestock inhumanely, and extract wealth from rural communities.”
Amanda Starbuck, Research Director, Food & Water Watch:
"The factory farm industry is driving the family farm to the brink of extinction. And nowhere is this more evident than in Iowa, which lost nearly 90% of its hog farms since 1982. We need to stop factory hog farm expansion and support our family-scale farmers — the lifeblood of our rural communities."
David Osterberg, Senior Researcher, Common Good Iowa
“For years, there has been conflict among neighbors and CAFOs regarding odor, siting policy, size, density, distance to neighboring property or communities, impacts on the rural environment, water quality, the public’s health, quality-of-life, property values as well as rural development. The list goes on. We simply have too many CAFOs in Iowa. They are a problem to neighbors’ health and for the health of all of us because of the overuse of antibiotics. We need a moratorium NOW. “
Cherie Mortice, Board President, Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement:
"The people of Iowa cannot continue to absorb the negative impacts of the CAFO industry, especially drinking water that is contaminated by nitrates and e. coli. Everyday people must stand up to the CAFO industry and demand an end to this. We need a factory farm moratorium now!"
Sikowis Nobiss, Executive Director, Great Plains Action Society
“Because 96% of agricultural land is owned by white people. It is not easy for many descendants of European-colonial-invaders to admit, but what is happening here in Iowa–the degradation and pain being inflicted on this land and the people and the massive contribution to this climate crisis–is because of their ancestors and the colonial-capitalist practices they brought with them and have honed over time. This is happening because it is part of a culture of manifest density that is now biting itself in the back.”
Patrick Bosold, activist, Move to Amend
“Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds received $300,000 in campaign contributions from Iowa Select, and then fought to keep meat packing plants open during the COVID pandemic, prioritizing agribusiness CAFO operators like Jeff Hansen and Iowa Select over the health of Iowa workers. It’s clear that Big Ag money has poisoned our democracy in Iowa. We need to rein in these corporate giants buying our political system. We need a constitutional amendment banning corporate personhood, and a moratorium on factory farms”
Shawn Camp, Co-Founder & Executive Director of Iowa Farm Sanctuary:
"The millions of farmed pigs and chickens in Iowa are rarely seen by us, unless we have the heartbreaking experience of locking eyes with an animal on their freedom ride to the slaughter house, experiencing sunshine and fresh air for the first time in their abbreviated lives."