Group opposes local confinements
To the editor:
Ten thousand hogs in two confinements are proposed for Batavia and Eldon.
Community residents are deeply upset, and they certainly have reason to be. These confinements are a great threat to their health, quality of life and financial investments they’ve made in their homes and communities.
There is plenty of documented research showing the deleterious impacts of concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs). Here’s a smattering of what people experience when factory farms move into communities:
1. Property values drop up to 40 percent near CAFOs, according to an Iowa State University study. That means a $50,000 home loses up to $20,000 of its value, if the owner can even find a buyer.
2. Factory farms emit over 200 toxic gases, such as ammonia, hydrogen sulfide, volatile organic compounds, and methane. A joint report by the University of Iowa and Iowa State University deemed hydrogen sulfide and ammonia emissions from CAFOs a health risk for humans. CAFOs also emit particulates, such as fecal matter, feed particles, and skin cells.
3. The toxic gases are byproducts of putrefying liquid manure that sits in underground manure pits for six to twelve months. The foul, toxic air from CAFOs is blown out of the confinement by huge exhaust fans, otherwise the hogs – or humans - would die from the gases in less than 30 minutes. Instead, people living near CAFOs get to breathe it in.
4. As a result, neighbors living within two miles of a CAFO experience a host of physical problems including wheezing, chest tightness, shortness of breath, excessive coughing, nausea, diarrhea, sore throat, eye irritation, headache, and weakness, according to University of North Carolina studies.
5. Children are especially at risk. A study published in the medical journal Pediatrics found children attending schools near CAFOs suffer over twice the rate of asthma than other children.
6. People lose the enjoyment of their homes and their cherished quality of life. Fly infestations are common. Odors are so bad that residents can’t enjoy their yards or open windows. Some people have even taken to living in basements to escape the odors that creep through shut windows.
7. People often leave communities when CAFOs move in, destroying the very fabric of rural life. Communities frequently disintegrate, becoming shells of their former selves. Just drive throughout Iowa to witness the deterioration of many once-vital towns.
Large numbers of residents from Batavia and Eldon oppose these two confinements. They understand the terrible impact these CAFOs will have on their communities, which includes a historic church established in 1841 and the American Gothic House. They don’t want CAFOs, and who can blame them?
In the opinion of Jefferson County Farmers & Neighbors Inc., it’s unfair that entire communities suffer the consequences of factory farms in their midst. We encourage the Adam family to withdraw their CAFO applications and consider returning to traditional sustainable farming methods that would cause no harm to these two well-established communities but would, instead, enrich Iowa’s rural life.
– Diane Rosenberg, executive director, Jefferson County Farmers & Neighbors Inc.