Tales from the Trail

Senator Harkin defends earmark to research pig odor

March 4, 2009

Some might think it would be hard to defend spending $1.8 million on researching how to deal with the odor from pig manure, but Senator Tom Harkin found it pretty easy to do.GERMANY/

Harkin, an Iowa Democrat, succeeded in getting the funds included in the $410 billion omnibus spending bill that is pending in the Senate, drawing protests from some like Senator John McCain that it is wasteful spending of taxpayer dollars.

“I’m sure that David Letterman will probably be talking about it and Jay Leno will be talking about it, we’ve got $1.8 million to study why pigs smell,” Harkin said on the Senate floor after an amendment was introduced aimed at killing the funding.

“People constantly complain, with good reason, about big farms, factory farms and their environmental impacts so it makes good sense to fund research that addresses how people can live in our small towns and communities and livestock producers can do the same and co-exist,” he said.

Harkin argued that the money was to replace funds that had been zeroed out for the Agricultural Research Service in then-President George W. Bush’s budget last year.  Conveniently, the ARS happens to work out of Iowa.

He noted that some 20 million hogs live in his state, one-fourth of the U.S. total, and while farmers have been encouraged to use the manure as fertilizer, that can present problems such as fouling streams and waterways and sending odors far afield.

“It is critical to our state’s economy but as the demand has grown for pork and as we produce more pork, you can understand that the management problems of what to do with the waste has become very serious, not only for the odor problems but the waste itself,” he said, adding that the research would examine the food swine eat and the management of what is done with the waste.

“This is not wasteful or unnecessary or frivolous,” Harkin said.

Senator Tom Coburn, an Oklahoma Republican who has crusaded against such pet projects being inserted into legislation, said he had no problems with the need but questioned whether it was needed immediately.

“I know what farm odors are like … a lot of it smells pretty good compared to what you smell in the cities,” Coburn said. “But the fact is, is it a priority that we spend that money now?”

For more Reuters political news, click here.

- Photo credit: Reuters/Johannes Eisele

Comments
15 comments so far | RSS Comments RSS

i think the donkey should now go into retirement,and the photo gives a clue to what the new representation should be, how about calling it barney?the smell that people are worried about is not from the pig .it is a wiff of the corruption that people fear will abound ,with all this money being splashed about.

Posted by brian lee | Report as abusive
 

Pork is in the eye of the beholder, or in this case, the nose. It’s pork if it doesn’t go to my district, that seems to be the way we think. If it goes into my district, state, backyard, whatever, it is surely legitimate government spending to support a worthy project. The pig odor research is very probably a good place to spend some taxpayer money. Have you ever been anywhere near a pig feeding lot? In my opinion, just getting a lot of money into the economy quickly is what we need to do. That will benefit everyone. Bickering over the details will not, unless your goal is short term political gain, particularly for the mean spirited and grasping sorts of the conservative right.

Posted by Clif | Report as abusive
 

This is a real and urgent problem. The issue really is whether the money can be spent effectively if obtained as an earmark.

Posted by Phil | Report as abusive
 

I can not understand why the Good Senator should be so concerned about the smell in Iowa because it would be interesting to know the percentage of time he has spent in Iowa in the last 16 years. If my memory serves me I think he was citicized once for not owning a residence in Iowa. I spend 4 to 5 months in Iowa each year and there are hogs and sheep in our neighborhood. I think it is a good smell when I arouse in the morning it reminds I am in one of the nicest states in the Union.
Respectfully, Martin Rich

 

“$1.8 million to study why pigs smell”; While they are at it— let’s just add human waste— I mean if you logically think about it—humans produce more excrement than pigs b/c we don’t fatten humans up to kill them—
yeah— that theory is about as STUPID as 1.8 mil to study WHY A PIG SMELLS!
I hope that YOUR President Obama realizes that he has made a complete JOKE out of the USA!
All I can say is IN GOD I TRUST!

Posted by TJ | Report as abusive
 

I appreciate that people are watching for “pork” projects (no pun intended)but this happens to be a real valid concern. The swine industry, which contributes 63,000 jobs and $12 billion in economic impact to the state of Iowa alone, is under attack with concerns about odor and pollution. Some accusations are legitimate others are, at best, unsubstatiated. More research in these areas, I believe will help mitigate concerns.

Posted by Dave | Report as abusive
 

Funds should be allocated to study the corruption in the government not pigs odor. There is ample odor of stink in congress and the white house. Now that’s what I call money well spent. It is for sure a change we can believe in and totally bipartisan. Now that is also what I call the audacity of hope. Maybe not. Don’t you all agree my friends.

Posted by Tina Moran | Report as abusive
 

ok dave you have a valid point about the pigs, pity they had not managed to get some tatoos on them there might have been a double bonus,

Posted by brian lee | Report as abusive
 

Tom Coburn “I know what farm odors are like–alot of it smells pretty good compared to what You smell in the cities” I wonder what Republican Senator Coburn meant by this statment;

Posted by wah | Report as abusive
 

ODOR OF PIG FARMS

Maybe this in not important to those who live in the big cities who enjoy their ham, pork chops and bacon but do not live downwind and work in those farms who have to smell the odor.
If you have ever passed the cattle slaughter houses in a central California, you do not get rid of the smell in your car or nose for days and it is not something you want to smell day end and day out.
They want their hamburgers, steaks and roast but have no idea where they come from.

Senator Harkin defends earmark to research pig odor
Posted by: Jeremy Pelofsky
Some might think it would be hard to defend spending $1.8 million on researching how to deal with the odor from pig manure, but Senator Tom Harkin found it pretty easy to do.

Harkin, an Iowa Democrat, succeeded in getting the funds included in the $410 billion omnibus spending bill that is pending in the Senate, drawing protests from some like Senator John McCain that it is wasteful spending of taxpayer dollars.

I do not think they have pig or cattle farms anywhere near Sedona, Ariz and doubt if McCain ever smells anything but ham and bacon frying.

“I’m sure that David Letterman will probably be talking about it and Jay Leno will be talking about it, we’ve got $1.8 million to study why pigs smell,” Harkin said on the Senate floor after an amendment was introduced aimed at killing the funding.
“People constantly complain, with good reason, about big farms, factory farms and their environmental impacts so it makes good sense to fund research that addresses how people can live in our small towns and communities and livestock producers can do the same and co-exist,” he said.
Harkin argued that the money was to replace funds that had been zeroed out for the Agricultural Research Service in then-President George W. Bush’s budget last year. Conveniently, the ARS happens to work out of Iowa.
He noted that some 20 million hogs live in his state, one-fourth of the U.S. total, and while farmers have been encouraged to use the manure as fertilizer, that can present problems such as fouling streams and waterways and sending odors far afield.
“It is critical to our state’s economy but as the demand has grown for pork and as we produce more pork, you can understand that the management problems of what to do with the waste has become very serious, not only for the odor problems but the waste itself,” he said, adding that the research would examine the food swine eat and the management of what is done with the waste.
“This is not wasteful or unnecessary or frivolous,” Harkin said.
Senator Tom Coburn, an Oklahoma Republican who has crusaded against such pet projects being inserted into legislation, said he had no problems with the need but questioned whether it was needed immediately.
“I know what farm odors are like … a lot of it smells pretty good compared to what you smell in the cities,” Coburn said. “But the fact is, is it a priority that we spend that money now?”

Posted by hallie | Report as abusive
 

Sure pigs smell but why spend taxpayer dollars to study the problem when all Senators have to do is ban Sen. Byrd and Sen. Shelby from the Senate chamber and the odor will go away. The two of them have earmarks amounting to more than $237 million in the Omnibus Bill which makes them the biggest porkers in the U.S. Senate.

Posted by L.S. Coop | Report as abusive
 

If you are indeed interested in taking care of the odor associated with the hog confinement operations, then look no further. My name is Darrell Lathrop with EDN Environmental, We successfully treated with a solution that is totally green and 98% effective. (meaning air sniffers dont register an odor. Don’t take my word, let me prove it to you . My email is edn7@att.net and I’ll be glad to demonstrate this very efficient, cost saving avenue and cure the concerns of confinement odors not only with hog, but with chickens, and dairy. Municipalities as well at a cost well below what the current science delivers and is capable of. Kinda Cool huh………………D.

Posted by Darrell | Report as abusive
 

It doesn’t take 1.8 million bucks to figure our that manure stinks. The odor is coming from the pork in Washington.

Posted by Brian | Report as abusive
 

$1.8m may seem like a lot of money but just think of the long-term benefits if it were to succeed. I assume that before anyone would spend that kind of money that a proper feasibility study would be complete. That said odour removal can be hard to deal with not only in farm situations but also in the home and anyway we can deal with odour removal I think is welcomed.

 

Let’s put it this way. It’s a drop in the bucket in comparison to our spending to be sure, but as a nation, we’re spending 2x ($3.69 trillion) as much as we are taking in ($2.15 trillion in taxes). The question is if you spent more than you made every year, would you charge your share of the cost of finding out why pigs smell on a credit card? Would you expect everyone to?

If it’s truly a problem, and you’d be willing to spend your own money on it, wouldn’t some company come up with a product that they could sell you?

Or, (not to impute motives) are you willing to spend other people’s money and not your own? Would you go to other parts of the country and convince other hard working families to take food out of their children’s mouths to figure this out?

If not, maybe it’s not that important.

Posted by angelok | Report as abusive
 

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