Live

Watch CBSN Live

A Stinky War In Iowa

On the Iowa Prairie, Mark Schultz and his family dreamed of owning a 100-year-old farmhouse. Now, however, Schultz says they can't stand living here. CBS News Correspondent Frank Currier reports.

"It's putrid, it's horrible," Schultz says. "You know, it takes your breath away."

He says the smell arrived when the new neighbors moved in: 25,000 pigs within two miles of the Schultzes.

"The odor is overwhelming. I mean, it comes right through the house. There's not a place in your home that you can get away from it," Schultz says.

All across the nation's pork belt, the Schultzes represent a growing backlash of Americans who see their quality of rural life threatened by big corporate hog farms.

Thousands of pigs under one roof producing more waste than a medium-sized city. The excrement is then spread as fertilizer on the fields.

Environmental officer Doug Wood says people are worried about their drinking water, property value and social life.

"I've talked to people that, uh, their kids won't invite anybody to spend the night," Wood explains. "They can't go out and barbecue on a Sunday afternoon."

But Bruce Reimers, who traded a career in pro football for pork, makes no apologies for what he does: raising 6,000 on a farm just over the hill from the Schultzes.

"Whether it's five pigs or 50 pigs or whatever, manure smells like manure and you know that's just one of the things that you live with in Iowa," Reimers says.

The politics of pork involve a lot more than corporate hog farmers and their neighbors. Iowans, in a recent statewide poll, said that the huge and growing volumes of hog manure are a bigger concern than either crime or abortion

"There are candidates in this state who have lost election and won election almost solely on this issue," Schultz says. "It doesn't seem right. It doesn't seem fair. But that's where corporate hog production is forcing us."

As a parade of pig trucks barrel past their house to market, the Schultzes are abandoning farm life for fresh air. In this war among neighbors, the hogs are winning.

Reported by Frank Currier