Large Livestock Farms Spread Across Iowa, Threatening Waterways

A major environmental threat has emerged as factory farms take over more and more of the nation’s livestock production: Pollution from the waste produced by the immense crush of animals. Iowa has more of the massive livestock feeding lots, known as concentrated animal feeding operations, or CAFOs, than any other state and has come under fire for lax regulations.

Environmentalists and Livestock Producers Battle over Data Collection, Other Matters

Livestock industry groups applauded the Environmental Protection Agency’s retreat last year from establishing an information-gathering rule. Michael Formica, of the National Pork Producers’ Council, said the rule simply would have burdened farmers with pointless paperwork. “You want your farmers focused on farming and running the farm, you don’t want them worried about filling out one inane form after another,” he said. Industry leaders also expressed satisfaction that it would be more difficult for the EPA to get information without a law compelling disclosure. Ashley McDonald, deputy environmental counsel for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association said his organization was pleased the effort would be more “labor intensive” because the data is “in a decentralized form that is much more difficult to ascertain.”

Divide Over Standards Splits Organic Community

Organic food sales rose from 1.2 percent to 3.7 percent of all U.S. food sales from 2000 to 2009. Fruits and vegetables total 11.4 percent of all organic fruits and vegetables sold in the United States.

But to organic purists, the cost of this growth may be more than just the higher prices they willingly pay to get food with the organic label. For them, the suspicion of big corporations in part fuels their growing skepticism of the federal government’s organic certification standards.