A new report from an Iowa City-based liberal think tank says there are economic, social and water-related costs that need to be considered in regulating large scale livestock operations. Researcher Carol Hodne says her studies show the concentration of the large facilities creates excess manure which in turn results in too much nitrogren getting into waterways. She says when you get excess nitrogen you can have a lot of different water pollution problems, including rapid growth of microorganisms. She says that rapid growth robs the water of oxygen and that’s why the state has so many fish kills. Hodne says she found information that goes against the prevailing notion that the large confinement facilities help local economies.She says the social and economic literature shows declines in local business activity the greater the number of confinements in a region. She says the information shows the large operations aren’t putting their money back into the local communities. She says a big study in Illinois over a 10-year period showed that the more the concentration of livestock facilities, the more the local business revenues decreased. She says this is because the very large facilities are buying supplies outside the community — which weakens the local business base. Hodne says her studies also show the amount of tax revenue goes down as the concentration of livestock facilities goes up. She says there was one report, not in a scientific journal, that says because Iowa allows property tax exemptions for confinements, there’s about five million dollars in unrealized revenue for the state. Hodne says there are numerous reports of social problems caused by the large livestock units by the smell and uncertainty of when they’ll be spreading manure.She says people report a lot of respiratory problems and she says there are reports “almost on the level of Civil War” because of the uncertainty they cause in some communities. Hodne says stronger regulations and enforcement are needed to assure environmental protection. The report is available on the web at www.iowapolicyproject.org.
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