EPA Sued by Environmental Groups over Hog Farms

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Hog FarmDES MOINES, Iowa – Eight environmental groups – including the Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement – filed a lawsuit earlier this week against the Environmental Protection Agency in an attempt to see stricter regulations on air pollution for hog, cattle, and dairy livestock facilities across the state.

“I was part of a farming operation for 10 years in Story County,” said Cherie Mortice with ICCI. “So we did have a confinement operation, and my experience was our neighbors would beg us not to pump and spray particularly during good months in the year.”

In Iowa, where hog farming contributes to a $14 billion industry, supporters of hog farming say the claims are blown out of proportion.

“It’s very disappointing to us,” said Ron Birkenholz with the Iowa Pork Producers Association. “Hog farmers all over the state of Iowa are working very hard to be good neighbors in rural areas. They’re using bio-filters, they’re using vegetative tree buffers. They’re working very closely with coalitions to support Iowa’s farmers, and Iowa State University to property side-barn, so, we think the plaintiff’s claims are a little sensational and unfair.”

But Mortice says the evidence is there to prove otherwise, and the EPA should be doing more to counter it.

“Factory farms are releasing toxins into the air, that’s been established,” she said. “In fact, the EPA has acknowledged that that is a fact. But our EPA is failing to act. And so, they have the authority to set some standards, and they haven’t done it.”

Birkenholz says collaboration between the parties would be much more beneficial than a lawsuit, however.

“I’m not going to sit here and tell you we don’t have odor – yes we do,” he said. “But it’s not constant, it’s not consistent, so, like I said, producers are working to properly side-barn so there’s less imposition on neighbors and so forth. The tree buffers really help, the bio-filters help.”

Mortice argues a lawsuit, though, does attract plenty of attention.

“We’re bringing to the light of day, the fact that there is ample research out there, that these pollutants are a health risk,” she said. “So, with the Sierra Club, and the Humane Society, and the Environmental Integrity Project. We are pushing this lawsuit to bring standards on these factory farms so there is oversight and so they’re going to be regulated.”



  • Randy Graven

    I’m not a fan of ICCI but I’m also tired of having my eyes burn in a closed up air-conditioned house all summer long from the gases coming off 6 hog confinements within 3 miles only one of which is a local owner-operator. All the rest are corporate sewers. Every time they empty out the gravel road by my house is soaked with their sewage and our vehicles stink like it ,our well gets bacteria in it if it’s a wet year. They have all the loopholes the Farm Bureau put thru the legislature figured out. I’ve lived within a mile from here for 61 years, raised cattle and hogs, and we never had this sewage bacteria in our 250+ deep wells until the last ten year since they built these hoghouses. And 40years ago there were more hogs and cattle in this county than there are now, but we didn’t have well problems because it was just natural manure and spread out with all the bedding and not concentrate liquid sewage. . And the tree buffers are a joke at least around here- one or two rows of poplars don’t stop anything at all. I guess I’ll have to side with ICCI on this one, much as I don’t like to. Nobody else is doing anything much about it. I was here first. Tired of the big corporate hog boys getting away with murder. Only the local guy give a toot about the neighbors.

  • Eric

    I think they should have to regulate I live near a few in southwest Iowa. My asthma is ridiculous when I get home. It’s why I stay out driving a truck over the road. You bring it up to your doctor’s and they just look at you like your crazy. I do not use an inhaler when I am out here only when I get home!! Tell me the air isn’t dirty from the stench of it. I will bring anyone along to feel the difference in health. I do love bacon n pork chops but from actual fed farm hogs that get exercise and are not drugged up over some lagoon with no ammonia gases that require a dead box outside cause it even kills em before they see the market.

  • Minna

    Hog producers may be doing more to “be good neighbors,” but it isn’t enough. I have family who say they don’t like to visit because “Iowa stinks” and they don’t like to come here.

  • mike

    Factory farming is how you supply the demand of the world’s love of pork people! There are people that differ from your vegan/religious lifestyle. There’s no need to take down the pork industry with your personal agenda.

    • marcopolish

      Why would you be afraid of a lawsuit? They still have to make their case. Next you’ll be saying that giving half the country, and all the downstream water users, cancer and parkinsons, because of all the nitrates that you over-apply and leave on the surface to runoff is necessary to feeding the world too. Golly, next you’ll be saying that all those diseases that are now anti-biotic resistant and killing millions is necessary to feed the world too, and so are those GMO-designer seeds that are patented and can’t grow without being bought every time even if millions in India, Asia and Africa are starving for the few extra bucks made by Monsanto. Geesh, what is the world coming to when you can’t kill a few folks just to make an honest buck?

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