Circus moves on, leaving a nasty smell
The caucuses are over and aspiring Republican presidents are gone. Behind them, they leave what are politely known as anaerobic lagoons - giant stinking lakes of sewage from huge indoor pig-rearing plants which have been the real controversy in the state these past 12 months.
In recent years, vast "hog confinement units" have become a staple of the Iowa landscape, long structures containing thousands, sometimes tens of thousands of animals. Nature being what it is, however, pigs (or hogs as they are known in these parts) produce waste, a grown one more than an adult human. So where to put the stuff?
The answer has been the manure lagoons, vast holding ponds of excrement, lined with clay and producing odours across the neighbouring countryside that require no description. Then, last summer, some of the lagoons burst. In one case, 1.5 million gallons of manure found its way into the Iowa river, polluting 40 miles of water and slaughtering fish.
The result was uproar, and pressure intensified to tighten state laws governing the pig mega-farms. But the problem will not be easily solved. The clamour reflects a sad and perhaps irreversible fact of life - that the small independent family farm, once picture-postcard symbol of the values and virtues of the American Mid-West, is an institution facing extinction.
These days, they are being muscled aside by giant conglomerates, or simply folded into them. The Iowa of Field of Dreams and The Bridges of Madison County may appear hog and corn heaven. In fact, only 10 per cent of the state's 2.8 million people live on farms. Iowa exports more industrial goods than agricultural products.
Battered by the farm crisis of the 1980s, and unable to match the economies of scale of the producers, many family farms had no choice but to sign up with the food processors. In doing so, the link between farmers and their land has been broken. They have been turned into subcontractors, suppliers of raw materials in quantities and at prices dictated by others. Hence the colossal "hog confinement units".
But they do provide jobs of a kind. Make life tougher for "Big Pork", Iowa's Republican Governor Terry Branstad has warned, and the business will simply take off for places like the south-eastern US, eager to attract new business and less squeamish about nasty smells. Thus would the decay of Iowa's traditional agriculture merely be hastened.
Not surprisingly, the presidential candidates have mostly ducked the issue. The rise of vertically integrated agri-business concerns like Cargill, Ralston-Purina, and Archer Daniels Midland has been in part due to farm legislation by Congress. Bob Dole, from rural Kansas and often dubbed "the Senator from ADM," has been notably quiet on the pig wars. Pressed on the issue, Steve Forbes insists the problem "is for the state of Iowa to decide" - reasonable enough for a man who has declared war on meddling by the "Jurassic Park" that is Washington DC, but weasel words nonetheless.
Only Pat Buchanan has spoken out forthrightly, calling the giant hog confinement areas "factories, not farms". Therein perhaps lies hope for opponents: if the places can be defined as factories, they will become liable to much stricter industrial pollution rules. Meantime, Mr Buchanan's sympathy for the old-fashioned farmer may be one reason for his apparent success here.
- 1 Rarest Beanie Baby bought for just £10 at car boot sale could be sold for £62,500 on eBay
- 2 Katie Hopkins and The Sun editor David Dinsmore reported to police for incitement to racial hatred following migrant boat column
- 3 Giorgio Armani criticises the way some gay men dress saying 'a man has to be a man'
- 4 Rebecca Francis accuses Ricky Gervais of using 'influence' to target female hunters after receiving barrage of death threats
- 5 Australian student Tommy Connolly, 23, adopts his pregnant, homeless 17-year-old cousin to give her a chance at 'a better life'
Rarest Beanie Baby bought for just £10 at car boot sale could be sold for £62,500 on eBay
Katie Hopkins and The Sun editor David Dinsmore reported to police for incitement to racial hatred following migrant boat column
'Jihadi John': Isis executioner Mohammed Emwazi wanted to wage jihad in Somalia until his friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
Parma, Missouri: 80 per cent of town's police quit after first black mayor is elected
Australian student Tommy Connolly, 23, adopts his pregnant, homeless 17-year-old cousin to give her a chance at 'a better life'
If I’m being racially abused I don’t need a stranger with a saviour complex to rescue me
The only black face in the Ukip manifesto is on the page about overseas aid
Ukip is the only main political party to not address LGBT rights in its manifesto
Food banks: One million Britons will soon be using them, according to Trussell Trust
Religion isn't growing, it is becoming vigorous in its demise, says philosopher AC Grayling
BBC election debate: The one photo that summed up the whole 90-minute leaders debate
£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A growing company in Belvedere ...
£25000 - £30000 per annum + Uncapped Commission: SThree: Sthree are looking fo...
£24000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you looking to work in a sm...
£26000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are the go-to company for ...