We’ll keep asking the question: How much pork can Iowa reasonably produce?
How much before more confinements drive people out of rural Iowa with noxious odors? How much before manure further damages lakes, streams and groundwater?
Every single candidate for governor and the Iowa Legislature should address these questions. The current governor and Statehouse leadership won’t.
Make no mistake: The pork industry is important to Iowa's economy. The industry consumes a chunk of Iowa's biggest-in-the-nation corn crop and helps support grain prices. But the very success of Iowa's pork industry and its rapid expansion underscore the need for smarter regulation.
The industry is a juggernaut. In late 2017, there were 22.8 million hogs and pigs on Iowa farms, up 3 percent from the previous year and about 18 percent over the last decade. Production is forecast to grow more than 4 percent this year, according to an ISU economist.