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Livestock follows the corn

DANIEL LOOKER 12/04/2012 @ 7:54pm Business Editor

Iowa will likely add 600,000 new pig spaces in 2013, and finding a spot for them is getting tougher, Brian Waddingham, Executive Director of the Coalition to Support Iowa's Farmers told members of the Iowa Farm Bureau Tuesday at the group's annual meeting in Des Moines.


The Coalition, which gets financial support from Farm Bureau and commodity groups in the state, helps livestock producers meet regulatory requirements when they expand production, as well as offering advice on an even tougher task, convincing neighbors to welcome new hog finishing barns and other livestock buildings.


"Talking to your neighbors could be one of the hardest things to do on your farm," Waddingham said at a workshop on improving neighbor relations. 


"Your neighbors are going to want to know everything," he said. You should tell them who's involved in the expansion, why you're growing, and exactly where the site will be on your farm, he said.  They may be more receptive if they know the expansion will help bring a son or daughter into the operation. 


"Answer them honestly," he said.


Conflicts over new livestock buildings no longer pit rural residents against commercial agriculture, but cattle finisher against cattle finisher, he told members of the Farm Bureau at the end of their delegate voting session on Tuesday morning. One delegate told Waddingham that two expansions in his county were located very close to neighbors. The operations were too small to be subject state regulation on minimum distance from other farms, he said. Waddingham said his organization hasn't gotten many calls on that problem, since most new expansions are larger and must meet set-back requirements.


In the workshop later in the day, Waddingham said that his organization encourages farmers to plant trees and shrubs around their barns and feedlots. Not only does it enhance the farm's appearance, evergreens placed near exhaust fans help trap dust that carries odors. The Coalition offers free tree planting advice from the Iowa Nursery and Landscape Association through the Coalition's Green Farmstead Partner Program. 


Later, Waddingham said that his group also expects to see expansion of turkey production and dairies in Iowa. Some are relocating to be closer to their source of corn and save on shipping costs. The hog expansion will include both integrators and family operations, he said. If the price of corn falls, he expects to see expansion in cattle feeding as well. 

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