CAFO moratorium

It’s time for a moratorium on building new confined animal feeding operations and expanding existing operations.

25 million hogs live in Iowa at any one time.

Across the state, Iowans feel they are under siege from an industry that is polluting the air, polluting the water, and destroying peaceful existence in rural areas.  That industry is confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs).  Unfortunately two new slaughterhouses will make the problem even worse – Seaboard Triumph Foods in Sioux City which opened in September, 2017, and Prestage Foods in Eagle Grove in 2018.  Currently Iowa has 3 million people and 25 million hogs.  The number of hogs is expected to grow to 30 million.

Most hogs in Iowa live in industrial production buildings.

The current way most of the animals producing meat, milk, and eggs are raised is in industrial livestock production facilities.  Thousands of animals live under the roof of a production facility, never seeing sunlight, never breathing fresh air, and never having an opportunity to exercise outdoors.  Currently livestock production involves raising as many animals as possible, as quickly as possible, in as small a space as possible, with the least outlay of money, with minimal labor and attention, with as little regulation as possible.  Consequently the current state of industrial agriculture can be characterized as:

  • Regulations are non-existent, lax, or favorable to the CAFO industry.
  • CAFOS have direct environmental consequences.
  • The animals are raised via methods better suited to a manufacturing plant that is making things. 
  • There has been a significant loss of opportunity for people who don’t want to raise animals in industrial livestock factories.
  • The industry has been overtaken by a few very large corporations.
  • The current technology is not working for raising animals in a sustainable way.
  • County Boards of Supervisors have no control over the siting of a CAFO, as long as it meets current inadequate regulations
  • Neighbors and the public have almost no recourse to challenge the siting of a CAFO.

CAFO industry pollutes Iowa's air and water.

The neighbors complain of stench so bad that they cannot hang laundry outside, they cannot open their windows, and they cannot sit outside.  With the stench from the CAFOs next door, the neighbors know that the property they own is less likely to be purchased at a fair price should they sell it.  No one wants to live next door to a CAFO.

Although CAFOs are not supposed to discharge manure into water bodies, it happens several times a year.  The fines are so low that they are not a deterrent to discourage others from doing the same thing. Some of Iowa’s waterbodies are so polluted with nutrients, which are chemicals in manure, that the water has been placed on Iowa’s Impaired Waters list, which means that the water does not meet water quality standards. 

None of the manure is treated, unlike human sewage, even though the manure is laden with pathogens, antibiotics, heavy metals, and hormones.

It is time for a moratorium on building new CAFOs and expanding existing CAFOs.  This moratorium should continue:

  • until the Iowa Department of Natural Resources is adequately staffed to perform annual inspections of all CAFOs and manure application fields
  • until water bodies bordering or running through the properties where CAFOs and the manure application fields located are tested several times a year, both above stream and downstream
  • until the poor water quality due to nutrients is restored in all Iowa water bodies
  • until the air quality surrounding the CAFOs and manure application fields is adequately monitored and regulated
  • until rules are established requiring permits for all confined animal feeding operations of all sizes
  • until the regulatory processes are adequately staffed and sufficient to deter further violations
  • until federal and state laws are upgraded to protect the public health and environment from damage from the pollutants emitted and discharged by CAFOs.

Contact your Iowa legislators and Governor and ask for a moratorium on confined animal feeding operations.

Enough is Enough!

See Handouts:

Moratorium - Enough is Enough

CAFO Moratorium Questions and Answers

Manure spreader, by Mike Carberry