Letter to the editor: Prestage’s racism charge ‘outlandishly hypocritical’

Greene County CAFO owner Eric Chrystal, doing business as Greene County Pigs LLC, wants to swap composting hog carcasses for a line of trees at his confinement on County Road E-57 just one-half mile west of Iowa Highway 4 in Franklin Township.

To the editor:

Like many Iowans, I was dumbfounded to read Ron Prestage citing racism as the reason his giant packing plant was rejected by Mason City residents and their responsive city council. In other media, he even described opponents of the plant as “racist kooks.”

That’s quite a claim coming from an industry built on the sweat, blood and broken bodies of economically distressed immigrants and refugees fleeing brutal civil war and persecution.

It is through the exploitation of immigrants’ bodies, their poverty and desperation, that the meat packing industry, and the livestock confinements (CAFOs) that supply it, have created such a profitable business model.

The industry garners billions of dollars yearly by using underpaid immigrant labor to churn out cheap meat for what is increasingly an export market. As a Southerner in the turkey business, Mr. Prestage is surely well aware of the role impoverished African Americans played in the development of the poultry industry: a role that has shifted to immigrants, as they are more disadvantaged and less likely to unionize.

The whole enterprise, from CAFO to kill floor, is based on the domination and exploitation of immigrants and people of color. The charge of racism is an outlandishly hypocritical tactic meant muddle the issue and silence opposition.

Stacy Hartmann, Minburn
Dallas County Farmers and Neighbors


  1. I too was disgusted with Ron Prestage’s racist remark. It’s a ploy to divert us from why the plant was rejected by the citizens who live there. The citizens of Mason City don’t want to wake up in the morning to the smell of hog stench. The mayor’s comment was just as dubious, implying we all eat animal protein. The truth is American consumers eat less meat and all of the increased CAFO production for the last five years is feeding the Chinese. Iowans are sacrificing our quality of life by allowing agriculture to pollute the water, land and air to feed the Chinese middle class.

  2. I knew a dude of Mexican descent down in Austin, Texas, back in ’83. He bragged up being hired by the security for mid-western packing plants to infiltrate the ranks of their respective unions. He’d pass himself off as a worker and incite others to stupidity on picket lines. That way the head-knockers could be brought in to restore order. He used to laugh about it. He saw it as his patriotic duty to break the unions. As we all know, labor unions are actually fronts for Communism, and anyone who belongs to one is either lazy or a radical Stalinist. We don’t need them.

  3. Well, Nick, I have a job, and I work while I’m there, so I guess that makes me a radical Stalinist. Who knew? Maybe a Democratic Socialist. Anyway, I just feel that people sometimes need to stand together to get decent representation with some employers. What we don’t need is another employer in Iowa that is the Walmart of its industry expecting taxpayers (that’s me) to cover the rest.

  4. Who cares why they rejected it! The point is they did! It’s what the majority wanted! Try telling that to the establishment in DC!


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.