Is Iowa Gaining Traction against the Hog Industry?

DeSoto Lake, Iowa

Call it what you will: a crossroads, a turning point, a tipping point. Iowans might simply call it progress, or rather, the prospect of progress. After more than 20 years of pushing back against the industrial-scale hog-raising operations in their communities, grassroots organizations might be making the behemoth budge.

Until recently, the corporate hog industry in Iowa has been impenetrable. Twenty-three years ago, in 1995, the state passed legislation that allows confined animal feeding operations, also called CAFOs or “confinements,” to exist. There was very little public outcry, and hundreds of confinements popped up, mostly in northern Iowa. Read More >

Once More, Big Ag Wants Us Off the Farm

In 2008, 143 million pounds of beef from the Hallmark/Westland Meat Packing Co. in Chino, CA were recalled in what was the largest meat recall in U.S. history. The facility had failed to call in USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) veterinarians to inspect cattle that were too sick or weak to stand on their own (known as “downers”), something particularly troubling given that this can be a symptom of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (aka mad cow disease). Further compounding the issue, the facility was a major supplier of meat to the National School Lunch Program. In response to this violation coming to light, the USDA tightened its rules on downer cattle and California enacted a law banning the slaughter of downed cattle, pigs, sheep, and goats for human consumption.*

What makes this case so important, besides the sheer size of the recall, is the fact that the violation was not initially brought to light by FSIS inspectors. The recall, USDA investigation, and the subsequent policy response were all triggered by an undercover video investigation undertaken by the Humane Society of the U.S. (HSUS). Read More >