Did you see the Des Moines Register’s recent scathing editorial?

They agree that we must tap the brakes on factory farms:

“If lawmakers can’t provide more local control, then they should pass a moratorium on new confinements.”

TAKE ACTION: Tell Gov. Reynolds and legislative leadership
NO MORE factory farms!

Why? Because it’s clear that the industry is out of control. Consider just the latest evidence:

  • DNR passed the buck on meaningful changes to factory farm rules that thousands of people wanted,
  • More than 5,000 additional factory farms were just discovered in a statewide survey,
  • A state worker was fired for educating counties about their rights to object to factory farms,
  • DNR has proposed weakening rules for testing E. coli which puts thousands of Iowans at risk,
  • and more — all at the expense of everyday Iowans.

Our Clean Water Fight is gaining speed – there’s no doubt about it. We’re not mentioned by name, but this editorial lifts up work we’ve done together to reign in the factory farm industry and demand action for clean water.

Let’s keep the momentum going! The legislative session is just around the corner. 

TAKE ACTION: Take three minutes to email Gov. Reynolds and House & Senate Leadership today.
Do they stand with us or the factory farm industry?

It’s up to us – everyday Iowans like you and me – to keep the pressure on state leaders and polluters to make them clean it up! And, we need to say NO MORE factory farms.

THEY dump it, YOU drink it; we won’t’ stop ’til they clean it up!

Join the Fight!

  • Ready to take action? Contact us to learn how to get actively involved in this fight.
  • Join as an Iowa CCI member
  • Sign up for our email Action List
  • Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Iowa CCI members, residents in Clay and Wayne counties celebrate and demand moratorium on new factories
Des Moines, Iowa – On Monday, Iowa CCI members and everyday Iowans celebrated as Iowa Select — the largest hog corporation in Iowa and 8th largest nationally — withdrew permit applications for two massive hog factories in Wayne and Clay counties. Both applications, which were overwhelmingly opposed by local residents and county supervisors, were likely to be appealed at the October meeting of the Environmental Protection Commission (EPC).

Locally organized opposition

Residents of Wayne County organized opposition, including a meeting with DNR director Chuck Gipp where over 100 neighbors demanded DNR deny the site, wrote letters to the editor, and successfully convinced their county supervisors to fail the Master Matrix and recommend denial to the DNR.  The DNR overturned the Wayne County Supervisors’ decision.  Wayne County appealed DNR’s approval of the factory farm, and a public hearing before the EPC was scheduled in October.

“We’re celebrating this big victory, but we know that Iowa Select will try to reapply.  We are relentless, and we’ll be ready.  We don’t want any factory farms and we will fight any that Iowa Select proposes to build,” said Pam Woollis, CCI member and resident of Wayne County.

In Clay County, local residents also organized, gathered petition signatures, and convinced their supervisors to recommend denial of the site, which again was overturned by the DNR.  Clay County’s Board of Supervisors was set to vote on appealing DNR’s approval of the factory farm at its meeting today.

“We are overjoyed at Iowa Select’s decision to not build their large hog factory beside our family. However, more importantly, the health of other farm familes and small towns is endangered by Iowa’s lack of regulations to protect the public health and our air and water,” said Sarah Lewis, who fought the 5,000-head factory farm near Spencer, Iowa. “We encourage our Supervisors to make Clay County the 18th Iowa county to call for a moratorium or changes to the Master Matrix until adequate regulations are implemented to protect our environment and familes.”

Iowa Select avoids scrutiny

“In its written notice to the Department of Natural Resources, Iowa Select cited several reasons for withdrawing, but we believe it’s because they are feeling public pressure and know that these appeals would further illustrate the failings of the Master Matrix,” said Erica Blair, community organizer with Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (Iowa CCI).

According to DNR’s construction review activity database, Iowa Select has seven pending facilities across the state in Grundy, Hancock, Hardin, Humboldt, Buena Vista, and Greene counties.  CCI has received calls from residents of several of these counties asking how they can fight the incoming factory farms.

Iowa Select has a long violation history, including at least 150 manure or ammonia releases polluting air and water, according to DNR’s facility spill database.

“Iowa Select creates new LLCs, allowing the company to avoid scrutiny of past violations, making it difficult to know the true number of spills and violations,” said Patti Naylor, a CCI member and family farmer who lives in Greene County, where supervisors just approved a 7,490-head Iowa Select factory farm.  “They’ve become experts at using the Master Matrix to their own advantage.”

This news comes as many scandals are coming to the surface for DNR.  CCI members point to the EPC and DNR’s dismissal of the Master Matrix petition, former DNR employee Gene Tinker’s claim that he was fired for educating counties about the Master Matrix, and DNR’s discovery of over 5,000 additional factory farms in Iowa.

“It’s clear that we need a moratorium from this polluting industry. Our DNR, legislature, and Governor need to work for all of Iowans,” added Naylor.

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.

The Environmental Protection Commission denies petition to strengthen the factory farm permitting process 


Videography courtesy Rodger Routh

Des Moines, IA – Today at its monthly meeting, the Environmental Protection Commission (EPC) voted before a packed crowd to deny a rulemaking petition filed by Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement and Food & Water Watch to strengthen the master matrix – a tool in the factory farm permitting process. At the meeting, the commission received over 1,500 comments in support of the petition and nearly 100 Iowans showed up to tell the nine commissioners to strengthen the fifteen-year-old scoring system.

“I feel betrayed by the Environmental Protection Commission for voting against the people of Iowa today and deciding to do nothing to improve the factory farm permitting process,” said Rosie Partridge, CCI member from Sac County. “It is clear that the DNR and the EPC lack the political will to stand up to the factory farm industry and make these much-needed improvements for thousands of Iowans. Shame on them!”

Despite 17% of Iowa counties sending Letters of Support for the petition and/or passing resolutions that call for more protections from the factory farm industry, none of the eight commissioners present today voted to move forward with the rulemaking petition.

The denial was based on a recommendation by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), the agency overseen by the EPC. Rather than responding comprehensively to the detailed petition, the DNR cherry-picked just a few proposals to justify denying the entire petition outright – even though the department could have given its own revisions and recommendations on the proposal.

“This vote against strengthening the master matrix is a vote for increasing Big Ag’s profits at the expense of Iowans’ health and environment. The DNR clearly lacks the political will to fix its broken regulations, but we will continue to fight for commonsense regulations to hold factory farms accountable and protect rural communities,” said Tarah Heinzen, Staff Attorney at Food & Water Watch.

The master matrix is supposed to provide a comprehensive review of environmental and community risks, allowing counties to recommend denial of facilities that will have harmful impacts. But the matrix developed by the DNR has proven so easy to pass that it has amounted to little more than a rubber stamp: Applicants only need to satisfy enough of the listed criteria to obtain 50 percent of the available points – an “F” by most standards. DNR records show that only 2.2 percent of applications have been denied since the master matrix was created in 2002.

The petition asked for:

  • A higher minimum passing score, requiring applicants to earn more points to obtain a permit;
  • A one-time enrollment for counties, rather than the current burdensome requirement for counties to readopt the master matrix every single year;
  • Revisions to the point structure to incentivize practices that prevent or mitigate pollution;
  • New criteria that consider more environmental factors, such as unique topography and existing water pollution impairments;
  • Elimination of criteria that do not provide meaningful environmental or community benefits; and
  • Increased separation distances from things like schools, homes, public use areas, wells, etc.

“My private well is a perfect example of why we need to strengthen the master matrix. In just three years, my well’s nitrate level has risen from 8 parts per million to 12, and this summer it tested at 19, almost double the federal safe drinking water standard,” said Janis Elliott, CCI member from Warren County. “Over 300,000 Iowans rely on private wells. How many of us are drinking poison?”

Meeting attendees vowed to continue pressuring the EPC, DNR, Governor Reynolds, and the Iowa Legislature to crack down on the factory farm industry and finally address Iowa’s growing water crisis. Following the EPC meeting, CCI members delivered letters to Speaker of the House Linda Upmeyer, Senate Majority Leader Bill Dix, and Governor Reynolds putting them on notice to take action during the 2018 legislative session.

“We won’t stop fighting the corporate cronyism that pollutes Iowa’s water. Today was only the beginning,” said Nick Schutt, farmer and CCI member from Hardin County. “To fix the problem, we need to hold our elected officials accountable and make sure they stand with the people of Iowa. Governor Reynolds and Iowa legislators, we are putting you on notice. We will see you in January!”

The citizen letters demanded:

  • a moratorium on new and expanding factory farm construction;
  • local control over the siting of factory farms;
  • mandatory – not voluntary – regulations to clean up our water;
  • tough enforcement of existing regulations; and
  • a plan to make industrial ag pay to clean up the $5 billion pollution problem it has created.

“It’s clear – the master matrix is broken. In the face of more inaction by Iowa DNR, it is the duty of Iowa’s elected officials to stand with everyday people,” the letters read. “We need a farm and food system that works for farmers, workers, eaters and our environment  – not just industrial ag’s bottom line.”

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

Food & Water Watch champions healthy food and clean water for all. We stand up to corporations that put profits before people, and advocate for a democracy that improves people’s lives and protects our environment.

 

Learn more

Join the Fight!

  • Ready to take action? Contact us to learn how to get actively involved in this fight.
  • Join as an Iowa CCI member
  • Sign up for our email Action List
  • Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

On Monday, Sept. 18, the Environmental Protection Commission  the “citizen” board that oversees the Department of Natural Resources (DNR)  is set to vote on our rule-making petition to strengthen the factory farm permitting process.

The petition asks for common sense changes to the outdated Master Matrix – a tool included in factory farm applications.

These changes are based on the experiences of and conversations with thousands of everyday Iowans who want to protect their air, water, and quality of life and supported by over 2,000 petition signers. 

>> BUT, late last week, we learned that Iowa DNR’s leadership is passing the buck and recommending denial of the petition we filed with our friends at Food & Water Watch.

Does reading that make you as mad as me?

Join us Monday morning to pressure the EPC to vote with the people, not the factory farm industry. RSVP here.

This fight is far from over.

The nine EPC members can vote with Brandstad/Reynolds’ industry-loving DNR, or they can vote with everyday Iowans. That’s why we need to pack the room with lots and lots of people!

Can you help us show up strong for clean water at the Environmental Protection Commission meeting Monday morning?

When: Monday, September 18, from 9AM to 12PM
Where: Iowa State Capitol, Room 116 (1007 E Grand Ave, Des Moines)
Register: Click here to RSVP today

Shame on the DNR for trying to kick the can down the road. County supervisors from seventeen counties have also demanded action to address Iowa’s factory farm and clean water crises.

Iowans can’t afford to wait any longer!

Erica and the Iowa CCI crew

Learn more

Join the Fight!

  • Ready to take action? Contact us to learn how to get actively involved in this fight.
  • Join as an Iowa CCI member
  • Sign up for our email Action List
  • Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

TWEET and LIKE to stand up for a Clean Water Iowa!

Last week, we learned that the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is recommending denial of the formal rulemaking petition filed by Iowa CCI and Food & Water Watch to finally strengthen the Master Matrix.

While their recommendation comes as no surprise, we are disappointed and angry that the agency sworn to protect Iowa’s people and environment has chosen to pass the buck. Their decision to deny commonsense water protections signals that the DNR is not truly invested in making sure our communities are adequately protected from the factory farm industry.

We proposed a Master Matrix that is more than just an automatic pass. But it’s clear that DNR wants to ensure this tool remains a rubber stamp for corporate ag.

DNR cherry-picked just a few items in the petition to justify denying it outright, while ignoring everything else. And in their response, DNR completely failed to even mention that the factory farm industry has expanded exponentially since the Master Matrix was created 15 years ago and is a major contributor to Iowa’s water crisis.

Here’s our rebuttal to DNR’s weak excuses: 

  1. DNR says our proposed Master Matrix is not feasible for the industry to pass. We disagree. Our petition is feasible because it is “capable of being done or carried out” – which DNR even acknowledged in its review.
  2. DNR says we’re demanding too much by asking them to select appropriate separation distances. This excuse is unacceptable. Protecting our natural resources is their job.
  3. DNR says certain criteria in our proposal are “improper” – like taking into consideration an applicant’s violation history. Everything that we proposed in the petition is legally possible and justifiable.
  4. Even if DNR disagrees with certain items in our petition, that is no reason to deny it outright. Our proposal is a place to start – DNR could still move forward and offer their own alternatives.
  5. But, because they chose to deny it in whole, DNR is yet again passing the buck and losing out on an opportunity to make changes right now.

This doesn’t mean our fight is over! The ultimate decision rests with the Environmental Protection Commission (EPC).

Join us on September 18 to tell the EPC to vote with the people and strengthen the Master Matrix. 

We need to show up strong to tell the DNR, EPC, Governor Kim Reynolds, and our state legislature that we’re sick and tired of the factory farm industry running roughshod over Iowa.

When: Monday, September 18 @ 9 AM
Where: Iowa State Capitol, Room 116 (1007 E Grand Ave, Des Moines)
RSVP: Click here!

Learn more

 

Join the Fight!

  • Ready to take action? Contact us to learn how to get actively involved in this fight.
  • Join as an Iowa CCI member
  • Sign up for our email Action List
  • Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Click the link below to download a copy of the Wayne County petition to stop Iowa Select and any other factory farms that propose to build in the area.

Wayne County Petition

Contact Jess at 515-282-0484 to find out who to submit the petitions to in your area.  Thanks!