Excitement for producers in the recent increase in pork production capacity in Iowa is causing an increase in environmental activist pressure. In a recent article in the Des Moines Register, members of the Iowa Citizens for Community Improvements (ICCI) charge the growth of pork production in the state is harming the environment.
With more processing plants opening in the state, many hog producers are expanding. Iowa Select Farms is in the process of adding 19 finishing barns, totaling nearly 90,000 hogs. The growth comes after the farm added two sow farms earlier this year. (See below for more about the technology inside their sow facilities.)
ICCI targeted Iowa Select, as they have several projects in process. Iowa Select says they are following the required permitting procedures as set by farm and environmental agencies.
ICCI says water quality issues are the reason behind their efforts to campaign against Iowa Select's expansion project. The group asked the Iowa Department of Natural Resources to extend the permitting period to 90 days so residents and county supervisors can “review this onslaught of factory farm proposals.”
The group says the two new pork processing plants are the reason for producer expansion, and several confinement operations are proposed in counties near the plants.
Iowa Select agreed the pork industry in Iowa will grow with the added pork processing capacity, but were quick to point out the other benefits of livestock production.
“We are going to respond to the market signals we see,” says Jen Sorenson, Iowa Select Farms communications director.
“The farm economy is really struggling right now,” she adds. “Diversification is a good option for grain farmers. We are bringing on more contract growers, and we shield them from the risk of fluctuating prices. They own the land, the buildings and reap the benefits of the manure for crop production.”
“Growth is good for Iowa and for the pork industry,” Sorenson says.
Earlier this year, Iowa Select Farms increased their sow herd with two new sow farms. Each of these buildings brings new technology—2,600 gestation stalls, 1,200 farrowing crates and 136 pens. The building has more than 4,000 filters to improve air quality and comfort for the animals.
A Look Inside an Iowa Select's Sow Farm: