As “progress” causes big changes stresses start to show.
Few can write as well as Art Cullen the Pulitzer Prize winning editor at the Storm Lake Times. Fewer still seem to be able to understand the changes that are going on in rural life the way that Art Cullen can.
In his recent column “Her well runs dry with progress” Cullen reports that while agriculture is king in his area, the changes that come with the newest and latest developments are not met without distress by some of the families who are not caught up in the race for more and more money.
As with many changes that take place it is other actors and not just those who are pushing the changes that have to deal with the fallout. The fallout is sometimes small almost indiscernible fixes to things you thought would last longer. Sometimes the fallout is much more noticeable and concerning changes. In rural areas where change has long been much slower, animal confinements and ethanol plants are causing much quicker and not always desired changes:
“This older woman can appreciate the smell of money. She and her husband used to raise hogs. Now they just have some cattle grazing grass along the creek, and farther back they raise corn and soybeans.
Back when they put the new well in at 475 feet they were told they would never need another, it was so deep. Then the ethanol plant came in 15 miles away. They had to drill down another 48 feet. Then more and more hoghouses and faster grid drainage. They’ve doubled its capacity in some parts.
The slough on 40 acres gets drained and planted. The water is rushed down a creek that aerial photos show has nary a blade of grass near it.
The caller thinks she might have to call for some more pipe down to that aquifer that appears to be sinking.”
Thus Cullen starts his tale of life in rural north west Iowa. It is a tale that is happening more and more frequently across Iowa and the midwest as old style farming practices are giving way to the factory style practices of today and the future.
This is a tale of conflicted people who are making decisions that may have huge consequences for all of us. Take about 5 minutes and read Cullen’s well written story that shows the rural Iowa is not the hegemony most people think.