To the Editor:
The proposal by Reicks Farms for the Confinement Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) filled with swine to be built in Allamakee County on the former farm homesteaded by the Marti and Clark family off Highway 9 past the Landmark on Kedary Ridge Road presents a variety of concerns for this wife, mother of two young children, and nurse practitioner.
The research I found regarding the illness, health problems and mortality regarding large swine feeding operations is quite concerning. Air, water and soil quality are all affected by this type of operation. The gas produced from the hog setup will release 71 volatile compounds into the air we breathe and can cause asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, bronchitis, sinusitis, allergic rhinitis, burning eyes, weakness, numbness, difficulty speaking, blurred vision, night blindness, organic dust toxic syndrome, pharyngitis, sore throat and pulmonary edema. All of these air-borne pathogens and disease states can be prevented by not allowing a large confinement of 13,000 pigs to be built.
Furthermore, there are 10 disease pathogens found in pig manure. The state of Iowa had 67 manure spills in just one year, 2015. This averages to be one manure spill in the state of Iowa every five days. The disease pathogens can cause abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, rash, fever, chills, fatigue, weakness, muscle spasms, open sores and dehydration. The sources of infections from pathogens include fecal-oral transmission, inhalation, drinking water, or incidental water consumption during recreational activities. The potential for transfer of pathogens is higher in a confinement setup, as there are more animals per smaller amount of space.
Another alarming finding was the evidence of Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) found in pigs resulting in contaminating workers and their families in 45% of the participants in the study. There is currently no cure and limited treatment options for MRSA, which could result in exposing an entire family and community to increased infection rates.
Those with weakened immune systems are at risk for severe illness or death. The high risk population includes infants or young children, pregnant women, the elderly, and those that are immunosuppressed, HIV positive or have had chemotherapy. All ages will be affected by the construction of this large hog setup, especially the neighbors surrounding the proposed building site.
My job as a parent, nurse practitioner and citizen of Allamakee County is to protect the environment, my children and my patients from death and spread of disease. The hog setup will be 2,184 feet from our home placing our family at risk. Allowing the building of this hog confinement, and others like it in Allamakee County, will have serious environmental ramifications. The quality of our water, soil and air will be affected, but most importantly the health of our family, neighbors and friends will be affected.
Please voice your opinion at the community meeting and help us stop this and future hog confinements from ruining our beautiful Allamakee County.