To the Editor:
I’m proud to call Emmetsburg my home — have raised a family here and those who know me know that generations of my family worked the land and have been a part of this community.
What I’ve learned in my more than six decades in this community is that farming is a vital part of Palo Alto County, and not just for farmers. So, I?was surprised to read the negative editorial in this paper that threw a lot of dirt on the hard-working men and women I?know, simply because they raise livestock.
Yes, Palo Alto County has hog farmers, cattle farmers along with corn and soybean farmers. I?don’t happen to raise livestock, but I appreciate those who do, because I know many of them and what they mean to this community. For one thing, livestock farming means more than food. It means jobs; more than 13 percent of jobs in this entire county come from livestock farming, according to the latest ag census.
Iowa Farm Bureau has been around for 100 years now, and it has never been involved in tracking the hog industry in Iowa. The USDA does that and anyone else who suggested otherwise is mistaken or has been misunderstood and their words have been twisted. The fact is, the farm organization I’m proud to belong to supports farming of all kinds and sizes, whether they’re large and modern, or small and organic. I know farmers who fit in both those categories and they happen to be Iowa Farm Bureau members!
What I’ve come to learn in my many years living here is that raising livestock and doing right by our neighbors and our land is more important than the size of the fam or the methods used to raise hogs or cattle. I know the livestock industry isn’t perfect, but I think it’s wrong to throw everyone under the bus or say someone is ‘good’ or ‘bad’ simply based on size.
They simple fact is, we can only hope that livestock farming is here to stay. Although there are some who try to paint the fact that having more hogs than people is a bad thing or a new thing, those with common sense and a good memory should know better. Yes, Palo Alto county does have more hogs than people, but that’s been the case for generations! According to the U.S. Census Bureau, USDA and NASS?Surveys, even as far back as 1970, Palo Alto had 13,362 people and 123,000 hogs. All that tells me is that Iowans have always had a taste for bacon!
At the end of the day, I?say doing things right matters more than numbers, and if folks who don’t farm want ot learn more about it, I?suggest they visit a modern hog farm. They can call your Palo Alto County Farm Bureau if they wan to arrange something. Who knows, they might just learn something along the way.
(signed) Clayton Helgeson