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Ignorance on CAFOS

By Staff | Jan 20, 2020

I come from a livestock family and married into one as well. When I grew up, we had dairy, layers, hogs and cattle on feed. I, myself, raised hogs and cattle. We adapted over time. The dairy went out first with the requirement for bulk milk handling the year that I graduated from high school. I do not miss the layers. I learned how to swear while hunting eggs in wall nests. The hogs went back at least three generations…four if you count my kids’ 4-H projects.

We did some confinement but ended hog production when the industry restructured eliminating independent producers. I was not going to feed for others and had no interest in a real estate investment selling pig spaces. I have clients who are still struggling with owning hogs with the leverage against them today.

I fed cattle, wore the hat and was once president of the County Cattlemen’s Association and Vice-Chairman of the ICA Beef Promotion committee. I transitioned to feeding cattle in feedlots for a while until deciding enough was enough.

My wife’s family pasture farrowed sows and fed out the pigs in oat straw bedded hog houses before deciding to focus entirely on feeding cattle. My father-in-law was once President of the ICA and was inducted into the ICA Hall of Fame. His son took the operation to a new level with modern outside lots, bedded barns and recently built a new confinement barn. The next generation, a son and son-in-law have joined the operation. They operate what I describe as a high technology family cattle feeding CAFO. They do an amazing job.

Most of the candidates running for the Democratic nomination for president were either east or west coast progressive liberals who have never set foot on a CAFO but have been told by the environmentalists and rural activists that CAFOs are bad. Hillary only won 6 of 99 rural counties in the 2016 election. They were urban counties. The candidate the Dems ran for Iowa governor in 2016 also lost the election in the rural counties. Instead of connecting with the rural electorate the Dems have doubled and tripled down on what I describe as an anti-commercial ag platform. They are running a very opposite of rural agenda where, in fact, commercial farmers and livestock operations are attacked as being too big, produce too much CO2, use too much technology or are somehow anything other than what they really are.

They are denigrated being called corporate factory farms when they are not. The alternative that they promote is a different Agriculture resembling the 1950’s when 400 acres was a huge farm, no one knew what GMOs would be, and the world was about to starve before Dr. Norman Borlaug came up with the green revolution which they now criticize as well. They hate modern agriculture.

Senator Cory Booker is an asterisk in the polls as a candidate for their presidential nomination but he is a great example of what I am talking about. He is an east coast vegan urban liberal who would never had known where Iowa was on a map without the caucuses. He delighted progressives in the east coast media who buy into the anti-ag baloney by proposing a $100 billionn government buyout of CAFOs. The Mother Jones headline was, “Cory Booker Just Went All In Against Factory Farming and the Meat Industry.” My first bet is that he has never set foot on a CAFO but the ICCI told him all about them which makes him an expert.

EPA defines a CAFO, which is a Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation, as farms with 700 dairy cows, 2,500 hogs, 1,000 cattle and 125,000 broiler chickens. Booker’s plan is to spend $100 billion over the next decade to buy out CAFOs theoretically so that they can pay off their debt and do something else. Also, theoretically, unprofitable CAFOs would have to look hard at the buyout and when liquidated, would make profitable CAFOS even more profitable so they will expand over that time. Feedlots will get bigger unless of course they are regulated out of business. Booker is too ignorant of the subject matter to know that CAFOs are family farms.

The Farm System Reform Act of 2019 would:

  • Place an immediate moratorium on new and expanding large CAFOs, and phase out by 2040 the largest CAFOs as defined by the Environmental Protection Agency
  • Provide a voluntary buyout for farmers who want to transition out of operating a CAFO

Booker said, “It’s small farmers who are treating animals with better care and compassion, who are treating the environment in a more sustainable way that really speaks to the farming traditions of our country being destroyed economically because of this corporate consolidation that is unsustainable.”

I find that to be an extremely offensive and categorically false statement. The narrative however, is a common misconstruction of someone who has had their perception of agriculture shaped by losers who are jealous of what are financially viable sustainable operations who are trying to bring others down to their level because they do not have what it takes to succeed.

I have grown up with the livestock industry all of my life and the level of professionalism practiced by the commercial livestock industry today relative to the scale promoted by Booker is of far superior caliber. His denigration of the practices of animal husbandry by CAFOs are off base in the cheap seats. GHG emissions per unit of production by CAFOs as a function of efficiency is a major contributor to the solution to climate change rather than part of the problem. The New Jersey senator is talking from a false fact base having become desperate to find a political updraft. Politico noted that “a lot of democrats have similar proposals.”

They have essentially declared war on U.S. livestock industries.

David Kruse is president of CommStock Investments Inc., author and producer of The CommStock Report, an ag commentary and market analysis available daily by radio and by subscription on DTN/FarmDayta and the Internet.

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