congress has gone to the hogs.

Here’s one more thing that Congress is thinking about spending money on. Maybe even $1.2 million. But after spending several summers on the family farm in Iowa growing up and experiencing this smell, I think this is research I can get behind. Well, not literally behind. Believe me: that would be unbearable.

Iowans say pig-odor study passes the smell test
By MICHAEL J. CRUMB
Associated Press Writer

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — On Capitol Hill, a $1.7 million earmark for pig odor research in Iowa has become a big, fat joke among Republicans, a Grade A example of pork. But the people who live cheek by jowl with hog farms in the No. 1 pig-producing state aren’t laughing.

They’re gagging.

“You hold your breath and when it’s really bad you get the taste in your mouth,” said Carroll Harless, a 70-year-old retired corn-and-soybean farmer from Iowa Falls.

In Iowa, where the 20 million hogs easily outnumber the 3 million people, the rotten-egg-and-ammonia smell of hog waste often wafts into homes, landing like a punch to the chest.

“Once, we couldn’t go outside for a week,” said Karen Forbes, who lives near a hog feedlot outside Lorimor. “It burned your eyes. You couldn’t breathe. You had to take a deep breath and run for your garage. It was horrid.”

The proposal to spend money on how to control pig-farm smells is contained in a $410 billion spending bill now making its way through Congress. Among other earmarks that have been criticized: tattoo removal for gang members in Los Angeles; Polynesian canoe rides in Hawaii; termite research in New Orleans; and the study of grape genetics in New York.

Despite the ridicule from Sen. John McCain and other Republicans, Iowa and the federal government have been studying how to control hog odors for years. The latest grant continues efforts under way at the Agricultural Research Service at the U.S. Department of Agriculture labs in Ames, Iowa.

Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, inserted the earmark.

“While we will likely hear about it on Jay Leno or the Letterman show, where they will be yukking it up, it’s a profoundly serious challenge,” he said. He said the idea is to help the pork industry go about its business “in an environmentally friendly way and be good neighbors.”

The federal study is looking at what hogs eat and how the stench can be reduced. Despite years of work in Iowa and elsewhere, solutions to the problem have proved elusive, though researchers have had success using ultraviolet light to remove odors and planting trees and other vegetation to suck up the smell.

Hog odors have been a perennial issue at the state Legislature, where lawmakers argue over the need to protect quality of life without ruining Iowa’s $12-billion-a-year pork industry.

To those who make light of the smell, Harkin extended an open invitation: Come to Iowa and take a whiff.

Bethany

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2 Responses

  1. ew!

  2. If you live in the state, the smell is quite strong. While it sounds like it’s not that big of a deal, it really does stink.

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