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Panel: Raising livestock responsibly ‘is right thing to do’

By Staff | Mar 27, 2009

WEST DES MOINES – Raising livestock responsibly involves choosing good locations for new farms, communicating intentions with neighbors and minimizing potential odor, said panelists speaking at a recent Livestock Summit sponsored by the Coalition to Support Iowa’s Farmers.

“As a county supervisor, part of my responsibility is to protect the health, safety and welfare of the people I represent,” said Brad Golightly, Dallas County Supervisor and farmer. “When it comes to livestock farms, local government needs to have a much better understanding of the best practices being used and farmers and groups like the Coalition to Support Iowa’s Farmers can help us learn.”

Golightly said that while public officials serve in rural areas, they don’t always have a connection to farming.

“Farm tours would be an excellent tool to reach public officials and let them see farming from the inside,” he said.

Brent McAllister, director of communications and business development for Emmetsburg-based Prairie States Management, said his family business places a priority on working with livestock farmers who want to construct hog barns responsibly.

One of the first priorities, he said, includes proper site selection. To help in the process, his family has used the Community Assessment Modeling program designed by Iowa State University.

The program takes into account the lay of the land, prevailing wind direction and the site’s proximity to other farms, residences or parks.

While not necessary for every location, information gleaned from the assessment can be helpful in selecting good sites for new livestock barns.

Leann Sutter, a hog and grain farmer from Marion County, said tree plantings are also an important consideration when constructing a new livestock barn or revitalizing an existing farm.

The Coalition strongly recommends the use of vegetative environmental buffers. said Aaron Putze, CSIF director. Planting trees and bushes according to a well-mapped plan helps minimize potential odor and improves the overall beautification of a livestock farm.

“CSIF not only recommended using a vegetative buffer,” said Sutter, “but (members) actually spent an afternoon helping us dig holes and plant trees.”

The Sutters keep active in the community and believe it’s important that farmers have conversations with others about livestock farming.

Angela Rieck-Hinz, ISU Extension program specialist, said farmers should also quantify the value of manure when wanting to properly locate new farms.

“It’s important that farmers factor in the amount of phosphorous needed in the surrounding cropland when considering new barn sites,” she said. “There may be land areas that are reaching the threshold for that nutrient and it’s environmentally responsible to avoid those situations.”

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