Letter to the Editor: CAFOs show contempt for tourism

By Lyle Luzum, Calmar

Finally, a clear statement of the contempt that CAFO operators can feel toward the communities they invade.

As reported in the Thursday, March 9, Decorah Journal article about the latest hog facility application hearing, a concerned citizen commented that “… we have a lot of tourism. How many people are going to want to be here when it smells like hogs everywhere?”

The response of Regan McConnell, manager of Stateline Hogs, which is requesting to double its facility, was telling. His response: “This is an ag community. You’re going to have smell. If you want tourism, you’ll have to go somewhere else.”

In other words: The profits of my out-of-state employer trump your desire for a community that you want to live in and that others can appreciate.

And, because the Iowa protections for you are so weak, we can force this thing down your throats whether you like it or not. Stick it in your eye, sucker.

Forget welcoming people who want clean water and clean air, and value a beautiful surroundings we cherish and the quality of life we enjoy.

This is hog country. And we’re going to stink it up with impunity for the economic benefit of a few without regard to the rest of you. It is a contempt beyond understanding.

It used to be that agriculture provided a broad-based well-being for a community, with the rewards of hard work going to countless families that provided the reason for the community’s existence.

People on the land provided for, not threatened the community at large. These facilities exploit weak laws that provide no protection for the rest of us.

They provide no wide-spread community economic benefit, but instead concentrate the gain in the hands of a few (and often send those profits out of the community or state) while concentrating and socializing the negative effects on the community.

That neighbors and nearby communities should feel under siege by the industry-scale producers is recent and unacceptable. You have to be willfully ignorant to not sense the depth of trepidation we feel, never knowing when or where another hog city will drop into our neighborhood. Or not care.

We should not have to fear our neighbors. We should not have to fear our farmers. Why do you, for your personal profit, have the right to drop into place facilities that threaten the property values, environmental well-being, and attractiveness of a neighborhood or community? Because you can is not sufficient moral reason.

And your willingness to use that excuse, and declare that your rights to drop in thousands more hogs (while barely meeting the useless minimum matrix score) supersedes all rights of the community at large, is the reason agriculture is increasingly seen as hostile to their communities, not supportive.

With a straight face you can pretend that four buildings of 1,200 hogs somehow is not equal to 4,800 – that from a matrix standpoint they are separate enough and pose no concentration risk.

Concentration of anything is always a problem. You are farming the holes in the matrix fence, not the land. You do not have the right to single-handedly dismiss our efforts to make our community attractive to ourselves, other potential residents, and visitors.

At a time when this area is finally getting recognized for its wondrous qualities of life and beauty, you do not have a right to tell us and others to go somewhere else to find it.

To top it off, our Legislature is not only unwilling to grant us reasonable local control, but passed new nuisance legislation to protect the hog cities against the rest of us. We’re the nuisance, they say.

We didn’t change. Big Ag’s move to concentration of ownership, power, wealth, animals and pollution potential is what changed. Enough is enough.