A Letter to the Most Factory-Farmed District in the United States

pig factory farm

Jo-Anne McArthur/We Animals

There are more farm animals than people in Iowa’s 4th Congressional District, represented by none other than Steve King.

If you know what a factory farm is, it probably does not surprise you that animals outnumber people in this rural farming district. It’s on those 750,000 people to stand up for animals against the cruel policies of politicians like Rep. King.

The eight-term Congressman, formerly representing the 5th District, won the 4th this year by his narrowest margin yet. In 2018, a total of 10,523 votes (3.4%) separated King from Democratic challenger J.D. Scholten, who supports family farmers over factory farms and the need to balance environmentalism with what we eat.

While his points are better for animals than King’s, they’re still not great. Scholten did not explicitly condemn factory farming in this year’s election, but those who care about animals still can.

Farm animals in Iowa’s 4th District have a lot of stake in Congressional elections, arguably more stake than people did because…

  • For every resident in Iowa’s 4th District, there are 17 pigs and almost 50 layers hens.
  • Across the district, 13 million pigs and 37 million layer hens live and die to feed a large portion of its 750,000 residents.
  • Because of the state’s access to grain and soy (Iowa led the nation in corn production 39 out of the last 40 years), millions of animals are shipped to Iowa’s 4th District where they grow to full size in concentrated feeding operations.

In light of the consequences of factory farming, King’s constituents should know that change starts with them. Here’s a letter from the other side.

tractor farm Iowa

USDA/Flickr

To the residents of Iowa’s 4th Congressional District,

The health of your community is at risk–and it all starts with what we eat.

As you probably know (and may even be proud of), there are more factory farms in Iowa’s 4th District than any other district in the country. The corn Iowa produces feeds millions of farm animals every year. Factory farms come to Iowa for its corn, and they have brought millions of farm animals with them.

But every day that factory farms continue to operate in your district, factory farm emissions will continue to enter the atmosphere, community health will continue to deteriorate, and farm animals will continue to die.

Billions of animals live on factory farms around the world. Iowa is special because industrial animal farmers seek out rural communities like yours.

It’s hard to imagine a world where the production of meat comes at a cost that we can see. But no one knows factory farming like the ones living and breathing it every day–like you. Factory farms transform communities with new jobs and track records of “good,” reliable business. But remember that every dollar they put in your pocket, like the pollutants they spew into the air, comes at a cost.

The big problem with farming animals

For most of us, eating meat is just the way it goes. Meat is full of protein, easy to cook, and totally natural, right?

The truth is that meat raised on a factory farm is far from natural. Actually, it’s quite unnatural. Pumped full of hormones and antibiotics–from an animal forced to spend its life standing in its own feces–meat raised on factory farms is a risk to your health and to the health of your community.

  • Factory farms are poisoning your community and communities around the world. More than 190,000 beef cattle on industrial feedlots in Sioux County, Iowa produce as much untreated manure as New York City. But manure emissions from factory farms, toxic to both humans and animals, go completely unregulated. Factory farms profit from the destruction of your community, and you pay the price.
  • Rates of lung disease are astronomically higher for people living near factory farms. This level of irreverence for the lives of humans and animals should not be tolerated. Sacrificing public health for corporate profit is criminal.
  • Many of us fail to recognize that we are animals too, and we are not meant to kill each other. So, farmers distance themselves from animals. They put animals in barns and shut the doors behind them so they don’t have to witness what really happens inside factory farms. But animals do. Nothing deserves to live a life hoof-deep in its own feces. Farm animals deserve better, healthier lives.
  • Animals suffer and die on factory farms by the billions (you can see how many animals die each day to know the exact numbers). Many live their entire lives without seeing the light of day. Farm animals cannot lay down, be with their young, or even breath in confined, overcrowded, and entirely unsanitary factory farms.

Without transparency from farmers about health practices inside farms, how will you know what factory farming is really doing to the food you eat? Do you know what factory farms are doing to the air you breathe?

Here’s more information on the public health risk factory farms post to your community.

You can be part of the solution

It starts with one small change today that could mean a huge change for the health of your community. With advancements in food technology, like the emergence of clean meat, animal-free farming is on the horizon.

Eating less meat is a choice only you can make. You can choose to be a part of the beginning of the of end animal farming. It’s worth ending because it’s a practice responsible for the suffering of billions of animals every day, and it starts with you. The end of animal farming is not just about the food you choose to eat today–but the community you choose to build tomorrow. What kind of future will you pass along to your children?

Factory farms in your community need to hear exactly how much you care about the health of your community and its animals. They need to hear from you through political initiatives with their names–Iowa Select, New Fashion Pork, Sparboe Farms–on the legislation (and not Rep. King’s).

chicken factory farm

Jo-Anne McArthur/We Animals

Factory farms need to hear from you through petitions, letters from student governments, and calls to your representatives in Congress. And they need to hear from you because the end of animal farming is near.

It’s starting to feel like now, more than ever, the way we present ourselves and our opinions makes all the difference.

Choose to end your support of factory farming today and make a better world for animals–and for yourselves.

Matthew writes Sentient Today and is a reporter with Sentient Media.

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