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We need ‘Iowa nice’ with hog confinements

We live in a state known for its good people. I have lost count of the amount of times I have heard praise for the good people in Iowa from those who live in other states and regions.We as Iowans take pride in being “Iowa nice.” How often have we lifted our fingers from our steering wheels to waved at people in town or on country roads without knowing who was in the passing car? How often have we held a door open for a stranger? How often have we reported that someone left their headlights on in the parking lot? How often have we gone to the neighbor’s house to help them round up their livestock that got out?It is just the way we work. We know what it means to be neighborly. We live by the “Golden Rule.” There is no place I would rather live than here in Iowa.But unfortunately, when word is received that two 2,499 head hog confinements are being built by your family’s farm without any advanced notice from the hog confinement owners/operators, your opinions of all Iowans being neighborly suddenly changes.Several weeks ago, my family received word from concerned neighbors that Reicks View Farms/Chestnut Creek had submitted paperwork for a proposed hog confinement in Howard County.Much to our dismay we learned that yet another confinement was being proposed in the same neighborhood by Ron and Brandon Reis. Because both of their confinements are one hog shy of tighter rules and regulations outlined in the state’s master matrix, they can use the proposed number to their advantage.At 2,500 hogs or more, the county supervisors can review the criteria found in the matrix and give residents and neighbors a chance to share comments and concerns about the proposed confinements.Confinements at 1,250 or fewer hogs have even fewer restrictions. These legislative loopholes are causing legitimate concerns for local Iowans who want to protect their air and water quality, not to mention the joys that living in rural Iowa can and should provide.It was a disappointment to our family that neither Reicks View Farms nor the Reis family reached out to us prior to submitting paperwork. Had they contacted my family and other concerned neighbors, they would have learned of a neighbor with a swine allergy, a neighbor with a health condition that will be impacted by chemicals in the air, concerns about water contamination in a karst region full of sinkholes, and concerns about the impact the confinement might have on a local Amish organic farmer to name a few.The neighborly thing to do would have been discussing these proposed confinements before submitting paperwork. There are confinement owners and operators who do contact neighbors, listen to concerns, and collaborate to find locations that will work for all parties involved.Unfortunately, it is those who don’t that are causing a “stink” in the industry. Let’s continue to strive to be good neighbors and collaborate in the future to maintain our reputation as being good folks who are truly “Iowa nice.”

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