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Prestage and the environment

To the editor:

Since announcing our desire to build a pork processing plant in Wright County, we have received several questions regarding our environmental record and want to provide the public with answers.

First, the environment is extremely important to us. We work and farm in more than 30 Iowa counties, and our employees and their families enjoy the clean water, air, parks and lakes in their communities. We dedicate three full-time employees in the state to ensuring we follow, or exceed, Iowa regulations on all of our farms.

We have been asked, “If Prestage cares about the environment, why does Prestage have so many ‘spills’ reported to IDNR?”

It has been erroneously reported that we had 46 “spills” reported to Iowa Department of Natural Resources. This is misleading and a misrepresentation of the information at best.

The vast majority of “spills” reported in the Iowa DNR database stem from an 2009 Environmental Protection Agency mandate requiring ammonia and hydrogen sulfide emissions be estimated on all livestock farms over a certain size (2,500 head for swine).

Prestage Farms had 39 farms in operation in Iowa at the time of the mandate that met the size threshold and filed one-time reports for all of them as being continuous natural ammonia producers. None of the reports involved a manure release. We did the same for all of our farms in North Carolina, South Carolina and Mississippi. Of the remaining listed manure spills and one small diesel fuel spill, only one reached a body of water, and none resulted in a fish kill or water quality impairment.

In all cases, Prestage properly contacted the Iowa DNR and took proper steps to control and limit potential environmental impacts. Prestage Farms of Iowa is committed to following and exceeding Iowa regulations on all our farms, following manure management plans, and applying manure to achieve full soil health and fertilizer benefits for other Iowa farmers.

Ben Crawford

Environmental services director

Prestage Farms of Iowa

Ames