Community, Church, and Large-scale Hog Production

Conference on "Community, Church, and Large-Scale Hog Production." Des Moines, IA, November 30, 1994.

In November 1994, the National Catholic Rural Life Conference in conjunction with PraireFire Rural Action held a conference on the social and theological difficulties posed by large-scale hog production and the value conflicts inherent in a market economy. Concerns centered around the negative effects of corporate-based, large production farms on rural communities, family farmers, and the environment. The conference attempted to raise awareness of the theological issues at stake and how churches and communities could address these. <p>The conference was divided into four sections. The first addressed the working of and trends in the hog industry, as well as the social, environmental, and economic effects of production methods. In the second part, three pastors shared their pulpit and personal experiences with the operations of the large farms. The third section—theological issues—constituted the core of the conference. Some salient issues covered were the intensification of agriculture for purposes of war and luxury and, relatedly, the concentration of wealth. The most common theme, however, was the identification of personhood as the individual in relationship with the community. The dignity of the individual can only be upheld within the relations of the community, for it is only within the structures and systems of society that justice can be brought to bear. The conference concluded with suggestions for organizing action and comments on conflict resolution.

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