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Pigs in Space: Determining the Environmental Justice Landscape of Swine Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) in Iowa

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ABSTRACT

Given the primacy of Iowa in pork production for the U.S. and global markets, we sought to understand if the same relationship with traditional environmental justice (EJ) variables such as low income and minority populations observed in other concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO) studies exists in the relationship with swine CAFO densities in Iowa. We examined the potential for spatial clustering of swine CAFOs in certain parts of the state and used spatial regression techniques to determine the relationships of high swine concentrations to these EJ variables. We found that while swine CAFOs do cluster in certain regions and watersheds of Iowa, these high densities of swine are not associated with traditional EJ populations of low income and minority race/ethnicity. Instead, the potential for environmental injustice in the negative impacts of intensive swine production require a more complex appraisal. The clustering of swine production in watersheds, the presence of antibiotics used in swine production in public waterways, the clustering of manure spills, and other findings suggest that a more literal and figurative “downstream” approach is necessary. We document the presence and location of antibiotics used in animal production in the public waterways of the state. At the same time, we suggest a more “upstream” understanding of the structural, political and economic factors that create an environmentally unjust landscape of swine production in Iowa and the Upper Midwest is also crucial. Finally, we highlight the important role of publicly accessible and high quality data in the analysis of these upstream and downstream EJ questions.

No MeSH data available.


Number of swine operations in the U.S. over time (dashed line) versus the inventory of swine during that same time (solid line) [5].
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ijerph-13-00849-f001: Number of swine operations in the U.S. over time (dashed line) versus the inventory of swine during that same time (solid line) [5].

Mentions: Global demand for meat is increasing as the emerging middle class in low and middle-income countries undergoes a nutrition transition [1,2,3,4]. The response to this increased demand for meats such as pork, beef and poultry is a phenomenal escalation of livestock production. The United States (U.S.) is second only to China in the tonnage of pork produced annually, and the U.S. is responsible for nearly a third of global pork exports. Although pork production in the U.S. has risen in the previous decades, the number of sites where swine are raised has decreased. Pork production in the U.S. is highly concentrated in a relatively small number of farms even as the number of swine grown in those farms has increased (Figure 1). Individual swine farms themselves might have quite large geographic footprints, with multiple barns and large lagoons for the disposal of manure and other effluent.


Pigs in Space: Determining the Environmental Justice Landscape of Swine Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) in Iowa
Number of swine operations in the U.S. over time (dashed line) versus the inventory of swine during that same time (solid line) [5].
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC5036682&req=5

ijerph-13-00849-f001: Number of swine operations in the U.S. over time (dashed line) versus the inventory of swine during that same time (solid line) [5].
Mentions: Global demand for meat is increasing as the emerging middle class in low and middle-income countries undergoes a nutrition transition [1,2,3,4]. The response to this increased demand for meats such as pork, beef and poultry is a phenomenal escalation of livestock production. The United States (U.S.) is second only to China in the tonnage of pork produced annually, and the U.S. is responsible for nearly a third of global pork exports. Although pork production in the U.S. has risen in the previous decades, the number of sites where swine are raised has decreased. Pork production in the U.S. is highly concentrated in a relatively small number of farms even as the number of swine grown in those farms has increased (Figure 1). Individual swine farms themselves might have quite large geographic footprints, with multiple barns and large lagoons for the disposal of manure and other effluent.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

ABSTRACT

Given the primacy of Iowa in pork production for the U.S. and global markets, we sought to understand if the same relationship with traditional environmental justice (EJ) variables such as low income and minority populations observed in other concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO) studies exists in the relationship with swine CAFO densities in Iowa. We examined the potential for spatial clustering of swine CAFOs in certain parts of the state and used spatial regression techniques to determine the relationships of high swine concentrations to these EJ variables. We found that while swine CAFOs do cluster in certain regions and watersheds of Iowa, these high densities of swine are not associated with traditional EJ populations of low income and minority race/ethnicity. Instead, the potential for environmental injustice in the negative impacts of intensive swine production require a more complex appraisal. The clustering of swine production in watersheds, the presence of antibiotics used in swine production in public waterways, the clustering of manure spills, and other findings suggest that a more literal and figurative “downstream” approach is necessary. We document the presence and location of antibiotics used in animal production in the public waterways of the state. At the same time, we suggest a more “upstream” understanding of the structural, political and economic factors that create an environmentally unjust landscape of swine production in Iowa and the Upper Midwest is also crucial. Finally, we highlight the important role of publicly accessible and high quality data in the analysis of these upstream and downstream EJ questions.

No MeSH data available.