Yesterday, Governor Vilsack held a press conference in Clear Lake to promote awareness on clean water and air issues in Iowa, I covered it here.
This morning, Mary Lundby had a statement in my inbox defending the Republican position on this issue and showing her commitment to it by displaying $18 million the legislature spent cleaning up water in 2006.
This seems backwards to me. For as much as Democrats get accused of throwing money at problems, Mary Lundby is doing it here in a big way. Let's look at the problem step-by-step:
Massive hog confinements have had a competitive advantage over small family farms since 1995. Since then, annual hog production in Iowa has gone up about 20% (it was 16.1 million in 2004). But in 1995, there were 25,000 hog producers in Iowa. In 2004, we were down to 9,300. I'll save you the math: in 1995 the average hog producer had 537 hogs. Today, the average hog producer has 1731.
Larger hog confinements mean (surprise!) larger volumes of manure. Despite the best efforts to prevent it, much of this manure ends up running off into our rivers and streams. Some of it is dumped directly into our rivers and streams.
Increased volumes of manure in our rivers and streams leads to increased bacteria and algae growth in the water (even Gray's Lake wasn't safe for a few days this week).
The logical solution: Take steps to lower the volume of pig shit going in the water.
Mary Lundby's solution: Spend $18 million to treat the symptom, not the disease.