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Republicans to Iowa: Drown in Pig Poop

by: Jill Richardson

Tue Mar 10, 2009 at 18:09:32 PM PDT

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This article caught Jay's attenton: Iowans say pig odor study passes the smell test.

On Capitol Hill, a $1.7 million earmark for pig odor research in Iowa has become a big, fat joke among Republicans, a Grade A example of pork. But the people who live cheek by jowl with hog farms in the No. 1 pig-producing state aren't laughing.

They're gagging.

"You hold your breath and when it's really bad you get the taste in your mouth," said Carroll Harless, a 70-year-old retired corn-and-soybean farmer from Iowa Falls.

Jill Richardson :: Republicans to Iowa: Drown in Pig Poop
Once Jay sent it my way, I started asking some Iowans about it. With just the words "hog odor study" the first Iowan I asked exploded with anger and frustration. He said the CAFOs support it and it's a stall tactic. "Really?" I asked, "Then why does Sen. Harkin support it? Usually he's pretty good!" As it turned out, there are TWO studies up for discussion.

The first is by the EPA. This is a study to merely measure pollution of ammonia and other gasses from CAFOs (factory farms). It aims to determine how and whether they can be regulated under the clean air act. And... it's from the Bush administration. I think that's the "stall tactic" study. If so, it's an attempt to study the problem for a loooong time so we can put off doing something about it that the CAFOs don't really like.

The second is by the USDA's Agricultural Research Service. THAT is the one Harkin supports. It aims to find strategies to reduce the smell and nuisance for those downwind of CAFOs. This study is already underway but the Bush administration tried to divert the funds for another purpose. After all... what's the fun in spending money if you aren't giving it to Halliburton in no-bid contracts? So the latest "controversy" is just over putting the money back where it was before Bush got to it, and allowing the study to continue.

I guess when the $1.8 million for the study was introduced to Congress in a $410 billion spending bill, some small-minded Republicans took a very literal view of the word "pork" and thought they were required to object to it.

Still... about the latter of the two studies... is that really what we want? To allow hog CAFOs to carry on with their filthy business, using $1.8 million in federal funds to help them do it? Why can't we make the hog CAFOs spend their own $1.8 million instead of your tax dollars and mine to find a way for them to clean up their acts? Why can't we give that $1.8mil to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources to enforce environmental laws when factory farms break them?

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Great post, thanks! (4.00 / 3)
Thanks for digging into this and finding out what it's about.  You should be writing the articles like the one I sent you in the first place!


Let's cut out the confusion, and the Crossfire-ish political games.  Let's focus on what will work best for people...

Yah, (4.00 / 3)
"fresh country air," all right.

Around here it isn't hog farms, and I live in town now anyway...but the smell of ripe manure on Amish corn farms..._gag, choke_...  is only slightly sweeter than the smell of fresh-skilled skunk on a country road.

The most remarkable thing about my mother is that for thirty years she served the family nothing but leftovers. The original meal has never been found. -- Calvin Trillin

But that manure smell dissipates within a few weeks, especially after (4.00 / 1)
some rains.

 The freaking confinement odor NEVER goes away.

[ Parent ]
erm...that should be (4.00 / 2)
fresh-KILLED skunk on a country road.  oops!

The most remarkable thing about my mother is that for thirty years she served the family nothing but leftovers. The original meal has never been found. -- Calvin Trillin

Skunks can be very skilled with their aim ;) (4.00 / 3)
Lordy, haven't smelled skunk in years . . .

[ Parent ]
It's not horrible...if someone else's car (0.00 / 0)
hit it hours ago, and only a residual odor remains...

Up close & personal?  gag!

The most remarkable thing about my mother is that for thirty years she served the family nothing but leftovers. The original meal has never been found. -- Calvin Trillin

[ Parent ]
Why are we studying emmissions from CAFOs? (4.00 / 3)
I thought it was already determined that they were better than pastured animals? Wouldn't that then leave one to believe that th studies already existed with data? {grin}

niiiice (4.00 / 1)
good one. I think in this case it's the stench in particular they are looking at, not the global warming effect?

"I can understand someone from Iowa promoting corn and soy, but we are not feeding the world, we are feeding animals and soft drink companies." - Jim Goodman

[ Parent ]
I was planning to post some background (4.00 / 1)
on this pig odor earmark. It grew out of a very bad law the Iowa legislature approved during the 2008 session. Basically this is a gift to CAFOs of taxpayer money and time (because now it will be at least 5 more years before Iowa does anything to regulate the pig odor problem).

I'll try to get that diary ready later today or tomorrow.

I'm only half-joking when I say I hope the study ends in (4.00 / 1)
failure, so that my poor, misguided state would be forced to conclude that there is NO WAY the odor can be controlled...then, maybe, our politicians will come to their senses and entirely outlaw the damned things.

 I cannot express the terror my husband and I both felt the day after we closed on our first home, here in NW Iowa (we had waited thirty years to buy!), when we stepped outside and were hit with the stench of a confinement operation.  

 Where did it come from? Why hadn't we noticed it the four times we visited the house, before buying?  I swear, we both aged 10 years in those few hours before the (aberrant and very rare) wind shifted and the smell went away....Whew.

It's been five years, now, and the stink only shows up about once a year.  But imagine what life is like for those closer to the operation?

 I tell you, these damned things are a blight on my pleasant state, a blight on the lives of the pigs forced to live in them, and I'd like to suggest that any Republican opposed to that modest sum for the study come to Iowa and find out what we're complaining about.  I bet we can find plenty of places (with depressed market value, thanks to the stench) that they could buy, nearby a confinement operation.

 You betcha.  

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