To the Editor:
I have lived in Dallas County for 63 years, been a classmate and friend of farmers and have worked for farm families and their operations. Now I hear rumors that factory hog farms (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations or CAFOs) are coming to my neighborhood near Redfield in Colfax Township.
In western Dallas County, the fastest growing county in Iowa, I am seeing and smelling more and more animal confinements. Even though a CAFO’s smell is readily noticed, its invisible and concealed consequences are many: the health problems, poor air quality, diminished property values, well water contamination, wildlife displacement and the degraded water quality in general.
Recent news reports tell of lawsuits in the works to stop CAFOs from contaminating fresh water sources, particularly the streams and rivers supplying Dallas County and adjoining Polk, Warren and Madison counties through the Xenia Rural Water system.
I have talked with two state representatives and one state senator about stopping the negative impact of CAFOs on residential property owners, but I found them completely subservient to the factory-farm interest.
Our state and federal legislators are not on the side of the small family farm or acreage owners, and our county supervisors do not want to make unpopular or difficult decisions. The buck doesn’t stop with them. They say their hands are tied by the DNR, Environmental Health Department and other state laws.
But there are action groups that have your best interests in mind, such as Dallas County Farmers and Neighbors, Jefferson Farmers and Neighbors and Iowa CCI. Contact them to see how you may be able to protect your property and your health. Follow their progress by liking them on Facebook. They need our support.
If you live in Dallas County, a factory farm might already be planned for your backyard. Protect yourself in advance. Consider getting an appraisal of your property now. If a CAFO later brings the value down, sue for damages. Test your well water now. If it is later contaminated by a CAFO, sue for damages. Get to know your state and local representatives. The current ones will not help you with these concerns.
Ron Smith, Redfield