Is the Hog Odor Earmark in the Stimulus Package More Pork – Or a Green Step Forward?

Published on March 28th, 2009 | by

Lawmakers continue to raise a stink about the $1.7M earmark for hog odor research in Obama’s stimulus package, calling it “pork” in its finest form.  Rural residents who live near hog farms, or worse, facilities where hogs are butchered, are calling it about time!

In the State of Iowa, pigs outnumber people by 8:1 – there are 20M pigs living in this Midwestern state.  Hog odors are nauseating, sulferous, and hard to get out of clothing, vehicles, and carpeting.  Iowa Senator Tom Harkin is proud of getting this earmark passed through, and his Iowa constituents view as his bringing home the bacon to his home state.  Per Sen. Harkin (as quoted by mgwashington.com):

“We all know how the game is played. Critics will take something such as this with a funny sounding name or purpose, hold it up for ridicule. For some reason, especially outside rural America, the very word `manure’ seems to be cause for laughter and levity and jokes. In farm country, manure and odor management are profoundly serious challenges that can be mitigated through scientific research.”

Republicans, led by John McCain, think the whole thing stinks to high heaven and are rapidly turning this earmark into a symbol of what they call “generational theft” in the stimulus package: a debt too high to be paid during the lifetimes of the current lawmakers. 

Having lived in the Midwest, I can attest to the horrible stench of pig odors.  I used to burn candles and incense to rid my room of it during hot, humid summers.  But is it as important as the current unemployment rate, the millions of people out of jobs, and all the lost homes in America today?  I think not.

Personally, I would like to see some hard data on what pig smells actually do to air quality.  Do pig smells constitute a hazard to the health of the residents nearby?  If so, then by all means, $1.8M is not too much to pay.  If it is merely a nuisance, then I would tell Iowans to do what I did; pull out the candles and incense, and look forward to winter.  

 


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