Hot Issues in Agriculture | Chicago Tribune series on pork production in Illinois

Some of our members may have read or heard about the Chicago Tribune series on pork production in Illinois entitled “The high price of cheap pork”.  The articles focused on facility siting, local resident input, animal welfare, and the environment. The Illinois Pork Producers Association became aware of the development of the series earlier in the year. As a result, the IPPA had multiple contacts with the reporters over the months and helped provide 30+ people to be interviewed. They include farmers, government agency officials, university researchers and veterinarians. Virtually none of the information from those interviews was included in the articles.

Both IPPA’s and NPB’s presidents have written letters to the editor of the Tribune regarding the series  and IFB President Richard Guebert, Jr. released a statement to Farm Bureau’s membership regarding the series:

PPA Tribune Letter to the Editor

NPB Letter to Chicago Tribune

IFB Statement on Tribune Pork Article

 The lead reporter for the series, David Jackson, began making the media rounds following release of the articles including an appearance on WTTW’s Chicago Tonight , the public radio program, The 21st, and Sirius XM’s Rural Radio.

The following information is provided to clarify a portion of the stories published by the Tribune…

 Livestock Farm Regulation

The Tribune articles suggest that there is little regulation of livestock farms. This is simply not true. The Illinois Livestock Management Facilities Act (LMFA) regulates the location and design of livestock farms. Farmers must meet eight siting criteria before new construction or significant expansion of a livestock farm. LMFA protects the environment while also enabling farmers to earn a living raising livestock. Illinois Farm Bureau supports LMFA; having rules helps avoid potential conflicts down the road.  Environmental Protection

The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) also regulates livestock farms, routinely inspecting them to ensure compliance with environmental regulations. The Tribune articles reference manure spills impacting streams. These accidents represent the exception, not the rule; the most recent IEPA data shows that violations of environmental laws are present on only about one percent of Illinois hog farms. When accidents happen, IEPA enforces the law. Farmers pay fines. They make reparations for damage to the environment. In many cases, farmers go above and beyond by making significant operational changes to reduce the farm’s environmental footprint.

Animal Care

The Tribune articles raise questions about animal care. Farm Bureau abhors animal abuse. Illinois Farm Bureau has consistently supported funding for core agriculture programs at IDOA including the Bureau of Animal Health and Welfare. Many farmers are trained and certified in programs like Pork Quality Assistance (PQA), which ensures the well-being of animals as well as safe, high quality food products.

Illinois Farm Bureau and Cook County Farm Bureau support livestock production in Illinois. Members continually look for innovative ways to raise livestock while being good stewards of our natural resources. For additional information, visit these websites: www.watchusgrow.org; www.ippa.org.