If you don’t stand up for yourself, no one else will. Iowa’s livestock producers have experienced this first-hand. Now, they’re taking charge and have joined forces with other agricultural organizations to create the Coalition to Support Iowa’s Farmers.  

According to Aaron Putze, CSIF’s public relations officer, since the group’s inception in May, they have helped 100 producers across the state with various tasks, such as: Siting a facility, putting together manure-management plans, finding ways to be a better neighbor and working to combat misinformation about the livestock industry.

The non-profit group’s founding members include the: Iowa Pork Producers Association, Iowa Cattlemen’s Association, Iowa Corn Growers Association, Iowa Soybean Association, Iowa Poultry Association and the Iowa Farm Bureau. In addition, nearly 2,000 individuals have signed on in support.

CSIF’s goal is to provide all of Iowa’s livestock producers the support needed to understand, implement and follow the state’s rules and regulations covering animal agriculture.

“We’re (CSIF) not just about hogs,” says Sam Carney, IPPA president. “We have to worry about noise issues, dust, working late hours and hauling manure. We base issues on science, not by the seat of our pants.”

“If there’s a problem,” he continues, “CSIF helps the producer find a solution and succeed in the Iowa livestock industry.”

An early priority focused on combating negative allegations by a grass-roots activist organization, the Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement. For instance, ICCI’s president has said, “anyone who has hogs in confinement is a factory farmer.”

CSIF launched an aggressive advertising and public-relations campaign touting the positives of Iowa agriculture and addressing ICCI’s allegations. So far, the results are positive and Iowan’s are hearing details about one of the state’s more important
industries.

IPPA officials point out that ICCI and similar activist groups also define other noted criteria for a factory farm include any considered to be Confined Animal Feeding Operation units that have employees; operations that don’t have enough land to accommodate livestock manure; units that use any and all modern pork production technologies. The group also says contract growers are factory farmers or “cogs in an industrial plant.”

While some activist groups have chosen to criticize the coalition and its efforts to help farm families stay in business, many producers appreciate the effort. “Every time we face more rules and regulations, ICCI believes it will help the small producer and hurt the large producer,” says Carney. “It’s just the opposite – the large producer can better afford to meet regulations.”

Besides the influx of rules and regulations on the state’s livestock producers, there’s also the threat of nuisance lawsuits and continual questions about contract production and market access.

“This is an opportunity for producers to stand up and defend their position in the industry to the general public,” says Gary Ledger, a pork producer from Williamsburg, Iowa. “More producers need to be supporters of the coalition and get involved. Hopefully I won’t have to use CSIF’s service, but knowing it’s out there and available is helpful.”

CSIF Launches Online Guide 
The Coalition to Support Iowa’s Farmers unveiled a new service to help Iowa livestock producers understand and follow complicated and costly regulations.

Strategic Technical Environmental Education Resource is a web-based guide accessible at www.supportiowasfarmers.org. It includes a detailed checklist of information about livestock production to assist producers in all stages of their operations.

The guide contains an overview of rules and regulations covering livestock production. The site also has a variety of farm-management tools, resources and contacts for producers, including third-party experts and consultants.

Upon accessing STEER, producers will be asked to complete a producer profile. The information will assist CSIF personnel in tailoring future services to specific needs. After completing the profile, producers can click on three main subject areas:

1) Rules and regulations

2) Farm management tools

3) Local, state and national resources and contacts

Iowa’s Livestock Industry at a Glance
These statistics provide a quick look at the impact Iowa’s livestock industry has on the state’s economy.

  • Iowa’s livestock producers contribute more than $5 billion to the state’s $9-billion economy. Animal agriculture accounts for nearly 5 percent of Iowa’s economy.
  • About 140,000 Iowans are directly or indirectly employed because of livestock production. More specifically, Iowa’s pork industry supports 87,000 jobs. Iowa’s beef industry supports 49,900 jobs.
  • The pork and beef industries collectively provide more than $3 billion in personal income to working Iowans.
  • Livestock production provides more than $77 million in county/-local government revenues and more than $400 million in state government revenue sources.
  • Livestock and poultry consume 33 percent of Iowa’s annual corn crop (650 million of 2 billion bushels), and 26 percent of Iowa’s annual soybean crop (130 million of 500 million bushels).

Source: Coalition to Support Iowa’s Farmers

Editor’s Note: For more information, call (800) 932-2436 or go to: www.supportiowasfarmers.org