Photo of dogs “Okie” (left), “Jenny” (middle) and “Foot” (right) at former dog breeding facility owned by Debra Pratt near New Sharon, Iowa, in this photo taken March 26, 2013, during an authorized USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service investigation.

Federal judge strikes Iowa ‘ag-gag’ Law

A federal judge has struck down as unconstitutional a 2012 Iowa law that banned undercover recording at agricultural production facilities in the state, saying the law’s primary aim is curbing speech critical of practices at those facilities.

The air they breathe
The Trump administration bowed to livestock-industry pressure, and made it harder for neighbors of CAFOs to learn what pollutants they're inhaling.

Recent actions by the GOP-controlled Congress and the Trump administration have exempted big livestock farms from reporting air emissions. The moves follow a decade-long push by the livestock industry for exemption and leave neighbors of large-scale operations in the dark about what they’re inhaling. If that weren’t enough, environmental advocates warn that the failure to monitor those emissions makes it even harder to assess the climate effects of large-scale agriculture.

High-Grade Cropland Gives Way To Urban Growth In Iowa – At Least Where There’s Growth

Urban expansion, at least in the few areas where Iowa cities are growing, is eating up some of the state’s best farmland. In Ankeny, a central Iowa suburb of Des Moines that a May U.S. Census Bureau report ranked as the nation’s fourth fastest-growing large city from July 2016 to July 2017, much of the land being developed for housing is high quality soil for raising crops, an Iowa State University agronomy department survey shows.

Earl Canfield moves an oats bin to the grinder on his farm.

When Being A Family Farm Doesn’t Mean Squat In The Government’s Eyes

The U.S. Department of Agriculture sets an industry definition for family farms. But that definition doesn’t take acreage size into consideration and can include operations where the family may not own the land, or even farm it. It defines what a family farm is for a consistent technical term in research and policy, which includes farm subsidies.

Large animal feeding operations on the rise
Several states see shifts in animal production since 2011

The number of new concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) have increased across the U.S. over the past six years - bringing the total operations just under 20,000, according to data from the Environmental Protection Agency. From 2011 to 2017, the United States saw more than 1,400 new large-scale concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) established. That’s up 7.6 percent. Here's a look at the issue in maps and charts.