Human Health

“Just because you smell it, it doesn't automatically mean it's a health threat." — Dr. Steve Hoff, Ag & Biosystems Engineering, Iowa State University

Iowa has always been a leader in livestock farming. As a result, people have always lived and worked in close proximity to animal agriculture. However, it’s true that livestock farming, just like many other occupations, has changed. What’s more, livestock farmers live and work on their farms, raise their families there and want to be good neighbors. 

  • Family farms make up nearly 98 percent of U.S. farms. These family farmers are not only caretakers of their livestock and land — they are also proud community members and parents. Nearly half of the nation’s farmers and ranchers volunteer with a youth organization, compared with a national average of about 7 percent. 
  • It’s in their best interest to protect their health, as well as their kids’ and that of others in the area.  And, studies show that counties in Iowa with the most livestock are some of the healthiest. 
  • Often times, odor is blamed for causing health concerns. The truth is that there is no established relationship between odor and health impacts.
  • For rural homeowners concerned about levels of toxic gases, the biggest threat may come from inside their homes, rather than any nearby livestock farms. Many household products (including cat litter, cigarette smoke and aerosol sprays) have a much greater impact on air quality within residences than odors from nearby livestock. 
  • Human health is an issue important to every farm family and every Iowan. Research shows that animal agriculture and food production can co-exist with healthy neighbors and communities.

Livestock farmers have a stake in following rules, regulations and best management practices to protect the health of their families, their animals and their community.