Wednesday, March 1, 2000

Iowans Fear Bush Record on Factory Farm Pollution

Des Moines, IA - The Sierra Club today called on Texas Governor George W. Bush to take action to stop water pollution caused by manure from factory farms in Texas. Livestock operations in Texas generate twice as much manure as the second-leading state, and the Bush Administration made it much easier to build new factory farms in Texas. Iowans are very concerned about Gov. Bush's record on factory farm pollution because they also suffer from significant contamination from Hawkeye state operations.

"Animal manure from factory farms poses a growing threat to Texas' drinking water, streams, lakes and groundwater," said Ken Kramer, director of the Lone Star Chapter (Texas) of Sierra Club. "Instead of encouraging more factory farms in Texas, Governor Bush should stop existing operations from polluting our water, and place a moratorium on new factory farms."

"Factory farms that soil rivers, streams, and drinking water are an unfortunately familiar sight and smell here in Iowa, too," said Steve Veysey from Iowa Sierra Club. "Because of Iowa's problems, we are very concerned about Gov. Bush's poor record on factory farm pollution to support our efforts to clean up Iowa by advocating a moratorium on new operations."

Factory farms are large chicken, pig, cattle or dairy farms that house thousands of animals in relatively small confines. These animals produce billions of pounds of manure, and cause water pollution when the large volume of manure the operations apply to the land runs off into rivers and streams, contaminating the water with bacteria, nitrogen and phosphorus. Texas livestock operations produce 220 billion pounds of manure annually, twice as much as the second leading state, California. Manure runoff, along with other sources of pollution, contributes to making 27 percent of Texas' waters unfit for swimming. In addition, factory farms generate unbearable odors that can cause illness and drive residents indoors.

Near Perryton, Texas, for example, where Texas Farms, Inc. has grown to 249,000 hogs in the last two years, the Texas Natural Resources Conservation Commission denied neighbors an opportunity to participate in a hearing on the facility's permit. Now the odors from the hog operation cause neighbors to suffer from nausea and headaches and even prevent them from opening their windows on the evening, according to Donnie Dendy, President of ACCORD AG, a group of small family farmers and ranchers interested in protecting the environment.

"Governor Bush and the Texas Natural Resources Conservation Commission have streamlined the process to remove public involvement and the right to know," said Dendy, a lifelong area resident and farmer. "Gov. Bush and the TNRCC have turned a deaf ear to rural residents."

"These factory farms are driving family livestock farmers out of business," noted Kramer. "Stronger protections to make sure that factory farms protect the environment will level the playing field for smaller livestock operations."

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