Iowa Doesn’t Have to Stink

Iowa Doesn't Have to Stink

The following is reprinted with permission from the author, an Iowa traveller from Missouri, who posted this e-mail on a list-serve we are on, explaining why she decided to write a letter to Governor Culver.  Below that, we have posted the actual letter to Culver.  (While there is some overlap in content, we wanted you to see both).

Here is the e-mail to the group:

I was up in Spring Valley, WI this past weekend for a MOSES Board meeting and drove up through Iowa from Missouri, taking 63, 163 then I-35 north of Des Moines. I love driving into Iowa from northern Missouri – suddenly there are no billboards and the gentle rolling hills are gorgeous.  

But the stretch of I-35 north of Des Moines was so rank from the smell of hog manure, that I felt compelled to write to the Governor as soon as I got home.

I thought of all those people who had to live in the stench, and how going outside to enjoy nature, let alone exercise must be impossible. I'm sure their property values have plummeted as well.  The only thing that seems to have saved some (sadly, not all) communities in Missosuri facing CAFO encroachment, has been local control, and the politically pro-active, Missouri Rural Crisis Center.  John Ikerd says that when communities get desperate for income, they invite a CAFO, waste dump or prison to set up shop.

I know how beautiful many parts of Iowa are and I don't mean to be “negative” about your home state – but I was most troubled by the destruction of the “common good.”

I wanted you to see the email I sent to the Governor (copied below).

P.S. the Missouri Rural Crisis Center has created a wonderful document titled:  Don't believe the Hogwash about CAFOs.
If you haven't already seen it, perhaps you'll find it helpful as we continue to fight this battle for justice.


Dear Governor Culver,

I am on the Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Services Board and I traveled this weekend from Columbia, MO to Spring Valley, WI for one of our bi-annual meetings. My route to the meeting took me through IA, on highways, 63, 163, and I-35.  Normally, I enjoy driving into IA from highway 63 – Iowa is breathtakingly free of billboard blight. However, when we left Des Moines, and headed north on I-35, I became increasingly angry over the truly repulsive air quality.  That entire stretch of highway had an unpleasant stench from hog manure.  I wonder how Iowa's political leaders can allow that kind of air pollution to destroy what could be a beautiful driving experience through an otherwise lovely state.

It is so sad that concentrated hog production has contributed to the destruction of the common good in Iowa – clean air and water.  I will try my best to never drive that stretch of highway again in order to avoid the sickening stench.  

Surely this can't be good for tourism.  Surely, this must erode citizens' property values.  Surely, this must add to your state's public health costs.  Our Missouri Rural Crisis Center has calculated that just as much pork can be produced on smaller, more biodiverse farms that naturally incorporate animal waste back into the land, without the stench and pollution.

I hope your state's leaders are able to find a way out of this terrible predicament and sickening stench that threatens to harm Iowa's image.

I don't believe we can afford the “cheap” meat that the owners of these hog confinements promise.

Melinda Hemmelgarn, M.S., R.D.

Melinda Hemmelgarn is formerly the Director of the Nutrition Communications Center at the University of Missouri – Columbia, and currently, an independent freelance speaker, writer, and nutrition/health consultant.  Melinda asked to be contacted if we ever need a testimonial.  So, put her info. in your e-rolodex. Check out her blog, Food Sleuth. You can also listen to Food Sleuth Radio Thursdays at 5:00 pm Central via livestream at KOPN Community Radio  

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