US Senator Tom Harkin has found himself defending protests from other US senators regarding an allocation of $1.8 million to researching how to deal with the odour from pig manure. Harkin, an Iowa Democrat, succeeded in getting the funds included in the $410 billion omnibus spending bill that is pending in the Senate.
“People constantly complain, with good reason, about big farms, factory farms and their environmental impacts so it makes good sense to fund research that addresses how people can live in our small towns and communities and livestock producers can do the same and co-exist,” he said.
Harkin argued that the money was to replace funds that had been zeroed out for the Agricultural Research Service in then-President George W. Bush’s budget last year.© Conveniently, the ARS happens to work out of Iowa.
The home state of Harkin, Iowa is home to some 20 million hogs, one-fourth of the US total. Farmers have been encouraged to use the manure as fertiliser, which is presenting problems such as fouling streams and waterways and spreading odours.
“It is critical to our state’s economy but as the demand has grown for pork and as we produce more pork, you can understand that the management problems of what to do with the waste has become very serious, not only for the odour problems but the waste itself,” he said, adding that the research would examine the food swine eat and the management of what is done with the waste.