Speaker: Small farmers not to blame
By NICOLE HESTER-WILLIAMS | Oct 16, 2014 <http://fairfield-ia.villagesoup.com/p/speaker-small-farmers-not-to-blame/1256444> Share on print <http://fairfield-ia.villagesoup.com/p/speaker-small-farmers-not-to-blame/1256444> Share on facebook <http://fairfield-ia.villagesoup.com/p/speaker-small-farmers-not-to-blame/1256444> Share on twitter <http://fairfield-ia.villagesoup.com/p/speaker-small-farmers-not-to-blame/1256444> Share on email <http://fairfield-ia.villagesoup.com/p/speaker-small-farmers-not-to-blame/1256444> More Sharing Services <http://fairfield-ia.villagesoup.com/p/speaker-small-farmers-not-to-blame/1256444> 0 <http://fairfield-ia.villagesoup.com/media/Common/19/8D/1281423/David%20Sykes-WEB.jpg> Courtesy of: WERNER ELMKERThe new president of Jefferson County Farmers and Neighbors, David Sykes, is a founding board member of the organization. Sykes is a general practice attorney who has represented Iowans fighting against CAFOs. <http://fairfield-ia.villagesoup.com/media/Common/19/8D/1281424/Stop%20Factory%20Farms-WEB.jpg> JFAN View More... “We elected attorney David E. Sykes to send a firm message that CAFOs [concentrated animal feeding operations] will not be tolerated in Jefferson County,” said Diane Rosenberg Wednesday night at the Jefferson County Farmers and Neighbors annual meeting at the Fairfield Arts and Convention Center. Rosenberg is JFAN’s executive director. Her comments come after founding JFAN board member and president Jim Rubis announced his retirement Oct. 1. “I’d really like to see the whole JFAN organization be able to retire,” Rubis said, receiving an ovation from audience members. Additionally, five new board members were elected. “Their [new board members] increased energy and new ideas will more than make up for my departure,” Rubis said. Rubis served as president of JFAN for nine years. However, Rubis wasn’t the only one who ignited passion in the crowd. In a rousing introduction, master of ceremony and JFAN board member John Ikerd said family farmers are being deceptively used to give the illusion that CAFOs are the next step in the evolutionary process of family farms. “Farming is not a way to make money it’s a way of life,” Ikerd said, adding that CAFOs create toxic waste and threaten clean water and air. He told audience members that “2,500-head-of-hogs create as much bio-waste as a town with 8,500. CAFOs are inherently inhumane. Just because something is legal doesn’t make it ethically right.” Keynote speaker Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch and the author of “Foodopoly: The Battle over the Future of Food and Farming in America,” said farmers are not to blame when it comes to CAFOs. “Blame goes on the political system; Small farmers can’t make a living,” she said, adding that many small family farms make between $12,000 and $25,000 per year. Hauter said in 1996 under President Bill Clinton, there was a domestic push to change farm policy that resulted in the elimination of the National Grain Reserve devised by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt to assist farmers during The Great Depression. “Cheap feed helped bring CAFOs to life,” she said, citing that in 1992 large factory farms made up only 30 percent of total U.S. farms, but by 2007 the percentage had climbed to 95 percent. “We should have a vibrant system where young people should be able to inherit their family’s farm,” she said. Hauter also revealed striking power imbalances existing throughout the food industry, citing many food giants gaining greater legislative control by merging with other large firms. “There is no emphasis on long term sustainability. It’s all about mergers and food companies getting bigger,” she said. “Billions are spent in lobbying, not to mention what’s spent on campaign donations.” Additionally, farmers make only 2 cents from every consumer dollar spent on products containing high-fructose corn syrup. The lion’s share of it, 90 percent, goes to the company that processes and markets the product. “We have to take political action in the end if we’re going to change the structure of our nation,” she implored. Mayor Ed Malloy, Sen. Curt Hanson and Jefferson County Supervisor Becky Schmitz along with several other lawmakers were in attendance Wednesday. The guest panel, made up of attorneys, JFAN board members and other sustainable farming advocates, included Eric Swafford, director of world development and outreach for the Humane Society of the United States. Swafford doled out free 300-page coffee table books depicting the treatment of animals housed in CAFOs. “It’s a kind of disgusting book,” Swafford said. “But it educates consumers on the importance of where their food comes from.” Also in attendance were more than 200 CAFO complainants involved in active cases. Sykes urged audience members to be proactive in their responses to CAFOs. “We are under a very serious CAFO threat,” Sykes said, adding that in the last two years, the amount of CAFO hogs has doubled in Jefferson County. But he delivered a promise. “I will do the absolute best that I can to bring this situation to a good end in the coming years,” he said.