Drivers along Interstate 35 in north-central Iowa have a new billboard vying for their attention. Instead of advertising a commercial product, this one bears the message: “Politicians Take Note, Hogs Don’t Vote.” He says they want to make a statement saying they’re required to be qualified to spray chemicals, drive trucks, and you need good laws to make good neighbors. James Berge says he paid to have the sign put up, to tell people he and his neighbors aren’t against farmers, even though they support legislation regulating large feedlots. He says their heritage is treasured, and corporate America can’t tell them it knows a better way to farm. Berge says he and five neighbors have family farms that go back to homestead days in the 1800’s. All were hog farmers at one time, all have gotten out of the business. If you’re not a corporate farm, you have to book a date two weeks in advance to get hogs slaughters, and Berge thinks packers want big farmers to supply them, not small family farmers. Berge says some farmers don’t feel they have a choice not to raise hogs for the packers. He says they grow hogs for Cargill, Smithfield, Tyson, because they can’t afford their own investment for livestock and feed. The sign stands along I-35 by the northbound lanes between Joice and Kensett.
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