Last night I witnessed an incredible hearing on two proposed CAFOs to be built near Batavia — totaling 10,000 hogs – in Wapello County. About 50 neighbors of the farmer proposing the CAFOs poured out their hearts with their very legitimate concerns about how the CAFOs would ruin their quality of life and threaten their health. They were not hysterical or ranting; they were very articulate and focused but frank in their comments, pointing out that the farmer’s brazen willingness to ruin so many lives revealed that he was heartless, greedy and an outright bully.
The CAFO farmer came into the meeting cocky and with a smirk on his face. By the end of the night he was completely disgraced, red-faced and unable to even look at anyone, even when they directly challenged him to look at them. When challenged to respond he just stared at the floor.
It will be interesting to see if the heartfelt appeal of his neighbors – many of them childhood friends — will cause the farmer to change his mind about building the CAFOs. As a friend who attended the hearing with me said, “the only thing I can think of for him to do is to move to another state and change his name.”