Tuesday in Calhoun County, County Supervisors appealed the Iowa Department of Natural Resources decision to permit Burr Oak Growers LLC.

Supervisors responded to efforts of Iowa CCI members who have been fighting to stop this factory farm because of water quality, air quality, and quality of life concerns. You held community planning meetings, gathered signatures, and contributed public testimony in opposition to out-of-state Burr Oak Growers LLC’s plan to expand factory farm operations in Iowa.

This was the first time the County Supervisors have voted to appeal an intent to permit by the DNR. The decision is a product of the inundation of factory farms in Calhoun County. There are already 164 factory farms in the county.

Contact:
Jess Mazour, Community Organizer, 515-282-0484, jess@iowacci.org

Des Moines, IA. – The Iowa State Association of Counties (ISAC) legislative committee finalized their 2019 legislative priorities at their annual meeting last week.  The legislative recommendations include changes to Iowa’s factory farm permitting and tax systems.

Iowa CCI members are pointing to the action as a sign of growing support for a factory farm moratorium on new and expanding factory farms in Iowa.

The ISAC legislative proposal includes addressing the failure of the Master Matrix and making factory farms pay their fair share of taxes:

  • “As this subject continues to be of growing concern to some county boards of supervisors, ISAC strongly encourages that this [Master Matrix] review be conducted by 2020.”
  • “The result is that the construction of any new agricultural building adds zero net value to Iowa’s property tax base.  This situation is doubly problematic because large-scale livestock operations and grain facilities impose significant additional costs on counties, such as for road maintenance, without expanding the tax base to help pay for those costs.”

“It’s about time that ISAC recognizes that factory farms are harming Iowa counties – not helping them,” said Barb Kalbach, family farmer and CCI member from Dexter. “We’ve tried small tweaks to the Master Matrix, filing complaints about manure management plans, lobbying against tax exemptions, and the legislature is unwilling to act.”

“As an independent family farmer, I pay my fair share of taxes. My corn and soybean farming operation adds revenue and value to Adair County. Our current tax policies allow factory farms to skirt their fair share of taxes. That forces everyone in the county to make up the difference.” Added Kalbach.

Iowa CCI members have pointed out that factory farms are exempt from all kinds of taxes that independent family farmers aren’t exempted from.  Factory farm buildings add no new tax revenues to county coffers.  Manure pits get a tax break under the Pollution Control Tax Exemption.  Wholesale rates on water and electricity are obtained, and factory farms don’t pay sales tax on key inputs, like feed and energy.

The lack of county revenue from the factory farm industry has forced some counties to change their Local Option Sales Tax (LOST) formula – a local program to offset propoerty taxes.

“My roads are constantly being torn up by the dozens of daily semi-trucks driving past my house.  I’m afraid my daughters are going to get in an accident because of the status of the roads,” said Nick Schutt, CCI member and resident of Hardin County.

“Now the Hardin County Supervisors want to change our LOST formula. If implemented, property owners property taxes will increase so the county can keep up with road maintenance,”  added Schutt.

The Hardin County Supervisors have proposed changes to the LOST formula.  Right now 80% of LOST revenue in Hardin County is going to offset property taxes.  The proposed formula would change that to 40% for offsetting property taxes and 40% for maintenance, improvement, and construction of roads and bridges.

The Hardin County LOST formula change will be on the ballot in November.

Last year, CCI members gathered input from Iowans affected by factory farms across the state and filed rulemaking to strengthen the Master Matrix with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR).  The DNR dismissed the entire rulemaking petition without considering changes to protect our air, water, land, and communities.

“We have already submitted our recommended Master Matrix changes to the DNR and the legislature.  They refuse to act.  That’s why we’re calling for a moratorium on all new and expanding factory farms.  We can’t wait for little tweaks anymore.  We need to stop the expansion now,” said Emma Schmit, Iowa CCI member in Calhoun County.

As of today, CCI members and allies have successfully organized 23 counties to pass resolutions calling for a moratorium, local control, and/or stronger protections from the factory farm industry.

 

Click here to view the ISAC 2019 legislative proposals

JOB TYPE

Full Time

SALARY

Minimum: $32,200
Maximum: $32,200
Details: Listed salary for entry level organizer, higher salary potential based on experience.

PUBLISHED

08/20/2018

START DATE

10/01/2018

APPLICATION DEADLINE

09/15/2018

ADDRESS

2001 Forest Avenue
Des Moines, IA 50311
United States

DESCRIPTION

Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement is looking to hire a Community Organizer to join our dedicated, fired-up staff team. The organizer’s primary focus will be to develop and execute grassroots organizing campaigns that build people-power, shift narrative, and directly confront corporate power to win concrete change that makes our communities more just and democratic – and makes life better for a lot more people.

 

The organizer we hire will work on our Farming & the Environment team. At a time of massive factory farm expansion and a state clean water crisis, rural and urban Iowans are building momentum and power to say YES to clean water and NO MORE to factory farms. CCI members are at the forefront of this hot button, corporate-power issue in Iowa.

We’re looking for someone who’s eager to help execute an ambitious plan to exponentially expand our people-power – and win justice. We’re looking for someone who’s ready to build relationships with lots and lots of grassroots people and develop them to be leaders in their community. If that sounds like you, apply for this job!

The ideal candidate is a good listener, an avid learner, driven, eternally optimistic, and flexible. They should be comfortable juggling multiple tasks, and thrive in a fast-paced team environment.

Most of all, they should have a strong desire to help shape the way people view the world, get people to act and help CCI grow. A sense of humor is a must!

About Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement

Iowa CCI is a forward-thinking, agenda-setting, speak-truth-to-power community organizing group that knows how to mobilize lots of everyday people to stand up for what’s right and put pressure where it needs to be put to win policies that put people first. For more than 40 years, our mission has been simple: organize everyday people to be a powerful force for justice.

Our current organizing campaigns include: Clean Water Fight/Stop Factory Farms, Fight for $15/Worker Rights, Immigrant Rights/Justice, Racial Justice/Stop Racial Profiling, Healthcare for All, Clean Energy Future, and electoral work (movement politics) to change “business as usual” politics.

Our 4,800 dues-paying members across the state believe you don’t have to stand by and just let things happen, which is probably why we’re growing so much. We believe in getting things done to put people before profits and communities before corporations. We view this troublesome time as a clear call to action and an opportunity to build political power to shape the Iowa we want and need to see.

About the Community Organizer Position:

The Community Organizer is responsible for working with their direct supervisor and organizing team to develop and implement effective organizing strategies and tactics to build base, shift worldview, and win. The organizer will work out of our statewide headquarters in Des Moines.

Primary Responsibilities:

Campaign Development and Execution:

Work collaboratively with program team to design and implement strategic plans for organizing campaigns.

Conduct research on issues important to the organization and our campaigns, research issues raised by members, and develop leaders to do research themselves.

Develop plans for, and execute meetings with, CCI members to create action strategies and plans for winning on issues and achieving goals.

Base-building and Leadership Development:

Create and lead popular education and skill building trainings to develop the leadership of CCI members.

Meet with community members on issues impacting them, determine their needs, and implement strategies to sign them up as dues-paying members of CCI and emerging leaders in the organization.

Lead members in carrying out agreed upon strategies to win concrete victories.

Communicating Our Work:

Craft messages and develop media strategies to raise awareness about issues and build support for our organizing, worldview and theory of change.

Speak to the media on our issues, and identify and train leaders to be media spokespeople on matters important to the organization.

Take complex issues/concepts and communicate them in an easy to understand manner with our members and the general public.

Fundraising:

Create narratives for grant requests and grant reports as needed, as well as cultivate and maintain relationships with current and prospective funders.

Research grant opportunities and other funding opportunities for the organization.

Collaborate with our development team to create strategies to move members from basic-level membership to monthly giving and/or major donors.

Participate in periodic phone banks and other activities aimed at raising more money for the organization.

 

Qualifications:

Ability to work well with everyday people from all walks of life

Excellent writing and interpersonal communication skills

Excellent strategic thinking and decision making skills, and attention to detail

Excellent computer skills

Ability to work independently and as part of a team

Ability to organize and manage multiple projects while working in a team setting

Not afraid to use confrontation as a tactic for winning justice

Must have a car or have access to a car on a daily basis

BENEFITS

Full health, dental & vision coverage

Generous paid vacation

Flexible and stimulating work environment

PROFESSIONAL LEVEL

None specified

MINIMUM EDUCATION REQUIRED

No requirement

HOW TO APPLY

hugh@iowacci.org
http://iowacci.org

Email resume, cover letter and three references by September 15, 2018 to:

Hugh Espey, Executive Director – hugh@iowacci.org

Please put “Community Organizer” in the subject line.

 

July 26, 2018

 

Statement from Campaign for Family Farms & the Environment (CFFE) on President Trump’s 7.26.18 visit to Iowa

 

President Trump’s bailout is a Band Aid for a farm economy that is hemorrhaging. We need to ask why U.S. farmers and rural communities are so vulnerable to tariffs from other countries. The answer is a broken farm policy, created by corporate agribusiness, that prioritizes overproduction over everything else — including our farmers, our communities and our environment.

 

Here in Iowa, we see the results of this Farm Bill in the wave of new and expanding factory farms producing pork for export markets. Iowa communities are already dealing with 750 impaired waterways; the loss of independent family farm livestock producers, and the decline of our rural communities, all caused by over 10,000 factory farms in this state. Nearly all the benefits are extracted to the corporations who do the exporting.

The expansion of new factory farms is fueled with government-backed loans to build new factory farms, economic development funding to help locate new slaughterhouses, and government subsidies for factory farms to handle the massive amounts of manure they create.

 

Decades of corporate-controlled markets and farm policy that incentivize overproduction have put farmers in this vulnerable position — dependent on fickle export markets, that can vanish overnight. We need a functional marketplace where farmers are paid fairly, our rural communities supported and our environment protected.  

 

Congress is working on the Farm Bill right now. Instead of pointing fingers about the right short-term measure to help farmers survive Trump’s trade war, let’s fix our broken farm policy. A good first step would be to stop corporate factory farms from exploiting taxpayer-funded conservation programs, such as the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, and the taxpayer-funded guaranteed loan program to build even more factory farms.

 

CFFE consists of Dakota Rural Action (SD), Food & Water Watch, Institute for Ag & Trade Policy, Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (IA), Land Stewardship Project (MN) & Missouri Rural Crisis Center (MO).

 

Yesterday, CCI member Emma Schmit drove two hours — each direction — to give two minutes of testimony at the Statehouse.

Why? Because she is surrounded by factory farms which is causing her hometown, Rockwell City, to wither on the vine.

Emma was one of over 50 CCI members — representing 22 counties — who testified at Tuesday’s Environmental Protection Commission (EPC) meeting. We were there to sound the alarm that Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is still not in compliance with the federal Clean Water Act. 

If you believe, like Emma does, that we deserve to have the Clean Water Act fully implemented for existing factory farms in Iowa — I’m asking you to chip in $20, $25 or more if possible today to ramp up the public pressure.

Five years ago, thanks to your relentless pressure, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) forced the Iowa DNR to sign a 5-year Work Plan to bring Iowa into compliance with the Clean Water Act for factory farms.  As a key deadline approaches this August, DNR will be submitting their progress report.

On paper, the DNR hopes to show they’ve checked all the boxes. But with a record number of impaired waterbodies and beach advisories, Iowans know that’s not the case.

In a letter we submitted to the EPA on Tuesday, we laid out the case for why we the DNR is still not in compliance with the Clean Water Act.  The DNR:

  • has not assessed and inspected all 5,000 “unknown” facilities that flew in under the radar.
  • does not have enough resources or inspectors to oversee this industry
  • has failed to issue a single Clean Water Act permit to a polluting hog factory farm.
  • does not have consistency and compliance with inspections and record keeping.

A total of 15 organization signed on in support of our letter.  You can watch our press conference here.

Our eyes are on the August Work Plan deadline and a clean water Iowa. We can’t let DNR off the hook — and we need to make sure EPA doesn’t, either.  Our water is too important.

Luckily, organized action is what CCI members do best.

In the next few months, we’re:

  • ramping up pressure on DNR in person and in the media to continue to sway public opinion towards a moratorium;
  • moblizing and engaging thousands of Iowans who care about our air and water to help us build the public record that DNR is still not in compliance with the Clean Water Act; and
  • building our legal case with our allies at Food and Water Watch, to make sure existing factory farms in Iowa are held to higher standards under the Clean Water Act.

Now is not a time to back down. More and more Iowans are fed up. One if five Iowa counties are calling for action to stop factory farms.

Help us keep the fight to say NO MORE factory farms and YES to clean water hot through the summer and into the election.

Can you chip in $20, $25, $50 or more to make sure we can deliver our clean water message to more Iowans than ever before?

We deserve to have the Clean Water Act fully implemented for existing factory farms in Iowa. And, we can’t just continue adding factory farms to our landscape — we need a moratorium.

THEY dump it. YOU drink it. WE won’t stop ’til THEY clean it up!

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, May 15, 2018
CONTACT: Jess Mazour, 515-282-0484 or jess@iowacci.org

 

One Hundred People Gather at Iowa Select Headquarters to Demand an End to Jeff Hansen’s Factory Farm Expansion
Factory farm fighters from across the state stand together calling for a moratorium

Iowa Falls, IA – This afternoon, nearly one hundred people gathered at Iowa Select’s office in Iowa Falls to demand CEO Jeff Hansen withdraw all pending factory farm applications and immediately stop building factory farms. With over 500 factory farms, Iowa Select is the largest pork producer in the state and has been expanding aggressively in the past year, despite mounting public calls for clean water and a moratorium.

“Iowa Select is expanding rapidly all across Iowa with no concern for our rural communities, our health, our water, or our air,” said Julie Duhn, a CCI member from Eldora. “As you can see from all the people here, this is a statewide fightback, and our only hope of stopping this out-of-control industry is if we fight back together. We can’t back down now, or big money corporations like Iowa Select will just continue exploiting us.”

“Factory farms dump pollution on our beautiful state and the industry doesn’t even pretend to care. Our legislators apparently don’t care, either. Since our politicians appear to be bought and sold by the industry, our communities have been stripped of local control with virtually no protections from factory farm pollution,” said Nick Schutt, a CCI member from Alden. “We’re left with no other choice than to take our message directly to Jeff Hansen and demand he stop this out-of-control expansion.”

In 2017, the Hansen family donated $275,000 to the gubernatorial campaign for Governor Kim Reynolds.

Community members delivered a letter to Hansen.

“Building factory farms is not Iowa nice. Polluting our precious water with millions of gallons of untreated manure is not Iowa nice. Sickening our communities with hazardous air emissions is not Iowa nice,” the letter read.

Iowa Select has been the subject of widespread scrutiny because of its massive factory farm expansion over the past year. Iowa CCI identified at least 27 factory farm applications associated with Iowa Select in the past six months, adding to more than 137,000 hogs. Iowa State University’s swine manure calculator estimates that this many finishing hogs would produce 57.5 million gallons of manure per year. These figures may be low, however, because Iowa Select uses various LLCs on their applications, making it difficult to identify all of their factory farms.

In an interview with Successful Farming last year, Hansen acknowledged that the new slaughterhouses coming online – including the Prestage slaughterhouse south of Eagle Grove – are driving his expansion.

The company also regularly builds factory farms just under the threshold that would trigger more state and local oversight. For instance, confinements with 2,500 head of hogs require the Master Matrix – but Iowa Select often avoids it by applying for confinements with 2,490 head of hogs.

“Iowa Select’s huge expansion is just one more sign that we need a factory farm moratorium now,” said Dave Haynes, a CCI member from Duncombe. “We’re at a tipping point. Enough is enough!”

“Iowa Select does not represent our vision for Iowa. We want more family farms, not fewer. We want clean water, not dirty water. We want thriving communities, not corporate-controlled communities,” said Emma Schmit, a CCI member from Rockwell City. “For that to happen, it takes all of us coming together in this battle of David vs. Goliath.”

Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement is a statewide, grassroots people’s action group that uses community organizing to win public policy that puts communities before corporations and people before profits, politics and polluters. CCI has been fighting to put people first for over 40 years. Follow us on Twitter at @iowacci.

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