Jess Mazour, a farm and environmental organizer with Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, says the group’s members are none too happy with the proposed facilities.
“We’re just really concerned because, one, we knew this was going to happen if the Prestage slaughterhouse was built,” Mazour says. “This is an additional 36.7-million gallons of untreated manure that’s going to be spread onto our land and run off into our water. We’re already in a water crisis and it’s clear we have a lack of regulation over this industry.” Iowa CCI is working to rally opponents of the various projects to speak out.
“Right now, it’s organizing community members across the state,” Mazour says. “We’ve received a lot of calls from concerned citizens. It’s all over Facebook. People are talking about this and they’re looking for answers of how do they protect their community from the air pollution, the water pollution, property value loss, lost revenue for the counties.”
Jen Sorensen, a spokeswoman for Iowa Select Farms, says the facilities are to be located in Hamilton, Dallas, Webster, Wright, Humboldt, Franklin, Palo Alto and Bremer counties. She says the 19 proposed sites will add nearly 90,000 hogs to their operations. Sorenson says it’s an “exciting time” in the pork industry.
“We’re growing, all of us are growing and we’re growing for a reason,” Sorenson says. “There’s more packing capacity going in in the Midwest. There’s two new packing plants in Iowa, one in Sioux City and one that’s being built right now in Wright County.”
Sorensen says the hog confinement sites in north-central Iowa will not have an impact with the Prestage Foods plant under construction in southern Wright County. She disputes claims from Iowa CCI about manure spills at the company’s facilities in Iowa.
“The claim that Iowa Select Farms has a long violation history is absolutely false,” Sorenson says. “We have had very few issues with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources since we began operations. None of these claimed releases or spills are accurate at all.” She says the company takes great pride in the daily work of its environmental services team to ensure environmental stewardship.
(By Pat Powers, KQWC, Webster City)