IOWA FARM POLLUTION
Al Jazeera looks at the heightened concerns about large-scale or so-called factory farms in Iowa – the effects of air pollution and compromised waterways on communities. Iowa is the number one hog-producing state in the county, with some 21 million hogs. Family farming in general is a thing of the past. There were some 30,000 family hog farmers in the late 70’s and now there are 8,500 in the state – many of those now large-scale containment facilities. What does this mean? A huge increase in the concentration of pigs – and all the waste that goes with it, compromising air and water quality not only nearby communities, but into the Raccoon & Des Moines Rivers, which provide drinking water to 500,000 people in Iowa. There have been spikes in the level of nitrates (caused by intensive corn/soybean runoff) – exceeding EPA-allowed levels – so much so that the Des Moines Water Works, a public utility, is actually suing three counties upstream – not the farms – the counties. With a no proposals and a mainly pro-agri-business state legislature and governor, and lack of trust in the state DNR and EPA, many people/organizations say the only answer is litigation.
Robert Ray is a correspondent for Al Jazeera America. An experienced and award-winning journalist, Ray has reported around the world and has been on the front lines of many important international and domestic stories including three U.S. Presidential campaigns. Al Jazeera America can be seen in southern California on Time Warner Channel 445, AT&T U-Verse 1219, DirecTV 347 and Dish Channel 215.
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