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Says Branstand, Farm Bureau aided corporate hog industry

October 19, 2010
Toledo Chronicle, Tama News-Herald
Letter to the editor:

Terry Branstad’s run for Governor and the Farm Bureau’s endorsement of him create the need to review what the two of them have done to our state, particularly rural Iowa.

I cannot begin to put all this in to a letter because no paper would print that much. Instead I hope all of you will visit the Iowa Farmers Union website and review all of the documents provided for you to read as you decide how to vote in a very important election. The website is <>

Around 1994, some people in Des Moines felt that we rural Iowans were hindering their growth. They wanted corporate investment to come into Iowa, in particular, large corporate hog confinements.

Project 21 was begun to address these issues. The Jan. 24, 1995 Des Moines Register states that Project 21 was the idea of Steve Zumbach, Jack Taylor, and Tom Gibson, general manager of Farm Bureau Financial Planning Services.

With the passage of HR 519, by the Iowa House of Representatives in the wee hours of the morning so no rural Iowans would be there, the Project 21 directives were put in motion.

Terry Branstad had already put this same agenda in action with an improper Beginning Farmer Loan that constructed a confinement facility built by a North Carolina firm called Hog Slats. He later followed that up with a half million dollars of taxpayer money to bring this same firm to Humboldt, Iowa. If you don’t read anything else on the website, please read Hog Slats application for state money and ISU’s John Lawrence’s letter in support of the application.  You will understand what has happened to Iowa and what the intentions were from the start.

You will also read about the “Eastern Breeze”, big eastern money that flowed to Jack DeCoster, Iowa Select’s Jeff Hansen, and Bruce Rastetter of Heartland Pork. This is apparently what the people of Project 21 and Terry Branstad wanted.  You will also note on a mortgage of Iowa Select that a whole page was devoted to Iowa Select’s involvement with Jack DeCoster.

Attorney General candidate Brenna Findley and Terry Branstad keep talking about who got money from DeCoster but they never mention the tens of thousands Branstad got from Iowa Select, an obvious business partner of DeCoster. They also do not talk about the job training money Branstad gave Iowa Select.

You will also see a Jan. 21, 1995 Farm Bureau Spokesman which states that, “Farm Bureau will oppose efforts to restrict the number of animals any livestock producer can own.”:  it is interesting to note how they rail on property tax increases, when their own policies have helped the demise of independent hog producers and the enduring consequences of lost businesses, declining school enrollments, and the inevitable loss of state and national congressional representation we face. They also editorialize on proposed regulations on animal treatment, antibiotic use, pollution control measures, and now dust issues that some are raising. We never had any of these issues before the big eastern money flowed into Iowa.  Thanks to Project 21, Terry Branstad, and the Farm Bureau, rural counties and now towns are competing with one another to get gambling facilities to replace the businesses lost due to family farm hog producers being put out of business.

I hope after you read all the information, you will decide as I have, that the election of Terry Branstad is a risk the state cannot afford to take. What if the big eastern money wants to reduce their grain and protein costs, and scheme with Branstad to take over our grain elevators and markets?  Likewise, will they or the meat packers seek Branstad’s help in the complete takeover of the cattle industry and we lose our livestock auctions, the last truly fair and competitive markets we have?

Iowa became great because of its people, not corporations funded by eastern money.  Branstad and the Farm Bureau worked together and the result is a corporate controlled hog industry, lost markets, pollution, divided neighborhoods, empty farmsteads, and declining rural communities. We don’t need anymore.

Gary Hoskey

Past President,

Iowa Farmers Union



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