Compared to zero in the last three years, members of Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement are worried about what this means for Iowa’s water crisis

Des Moines, IA – The Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has issued 110 “emergency exemptions” allowing factory farms to dump untreated liquid manure and raw feces onto snow covered ground over the past three months. That compares to zero in each of the last years and only 15 in 2014. The winter manure ban is in place because spreading manure on snow covered or frozen ground leads to hog manure contaminating Iowa’s waterways.

Members of Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (Iowa CCI) are worried about what this means for Iowa’s already polluted water as the spring thaw,heavy rainfall, and floods hit the state.

“When the snow melts, it drains off into our waterways, and so does everything that was spread on top of it. That includes the untreated liquid manure from these corporate-owned hogs,” said Barb Kalbach, retired nurse, 4th generation family farmer, and Iowa CCI member. “We already have 750 impaired waterways, and this is not going to help make it better.”

According to the DNR, weather conditions have left factory farm manure pits nearly full. The record number of “emergency” exemptions mean that Iowa’s already polluted water is more susceptible to pollution from factory farm manure.

“Last summer my family and I tried to go swimming at a public beach, but when we arrived there was a sign posted saying the water was too polluted to swim in. With 110 “emergency exemptions” it doesn’t look like water quality is going to improve this next summer,” said Kristyn Arnold, an Iowa CCI member, “The only emergency is the impact that factory farm and industrial agriculture pollution is having on our water in Iowa.”

Currently the state of Iowa is using the nutrient reduction strategy to combat pollution from factory farms and industrial agriculture. The program uses public dollars and is voluntary, meaning that corporate Ag can decide if and how much they would like to participate in the clean up of Iowa’s water ways.

“The factory farm industry claims to be a 112 billion dollar industry. They have the money, they made the mess, and they should be responsible for cleaning it up,” said Brenda Brink, a retired dietitian and Iowa CCI member, “Why are we using public dollars to clean up a mess these giant corporations made?”

The Road to a Green New Deal Tour, a star-studded 9-city tour across the US talking about climate change and good jobs, is coming to Des Moines, IA on Monday, April 22, 2019.

At this event, hundreds of attendees will be treated to a multimedia experience and an emotional journey through the pain of the climate crisis and pollution to the hope of the Green New Deal. The stop in Des Moines will highlight, among other issues, how a better farm and food system can address climate change. The tour will also include over 200 town hall events in churches, classrooms, and union halls across the country.

Speakers for the Des Moines, IA tour stop include:

  • Leading climate luminaries Bill McKibben & Naomi Klein live by video;
  • Rural community leaders Kim Stephens from Nevada, IA & Nick Schutt from Alden, IA;
  • Native & Indigenous leaders Lakasha Yooxot Likipt, Touches Lightning – an enrolled Cayuse member of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation & Trisha Etringer, Cax-Sep-Gu-Wiga, Eagle-That-Returns – of the Ho-Chunk Nation;
  • Youth leaders Hannah Dorf from Grinnell College & Shantal Hernandez from Ankeny High School; and
  • Executive Director of the Sunrise Movement Varshini Prakash.

On Monday April 22nd, hundreds of Iowans will gather in Des Moines to listen to stories of loss to climate change and hope that can be found in the Green New Deal. The truth is that most Americans want changes such as clean air and water, jobs in renewable energy, and preparing our infrastructure for the changing planet. As part of a greater American tour, this event in Des Moines will inspire and equip attendees to truly be the change that is necessary to move the Green New Deal forward.

WHAT: A multimedia event featuring political and community leaders discussing the promise of the Green New Deal for Iowa and the Heartland

WHEN: Monday, April 22nd at program at 7:00 pm CT, doors at 6:15 pm

WHERE: Sheslow Auditorium, 2507 University Ave. Des Moines, IA 50311. Tickets are $5 and available at sunrisemovement.org/tour.

WHO: This event is organized by Sunrise Movement and Iowa CCI. We expect hundreds of Iowans to attend to learn more about the Green New Deal and get the tools and resources they need to pressure their policymakers to get behind it.

WHY: In 2018, young people put the Green New Deal on the national agenda and permanently changed the conversation on climate policy in this country. The movement backing the Green New Deal has exploded since. The proposal has the backing of 91 members of the House, 13 Senators, as well as the support of 14 of 19 of the declared 2020 presidential candidates. A recent poll from Business Insider showed 66% of Americans say that each and every component of the plan was somewhat, very, or extremely important. And in Iowa,polling shows 91% of caucus-goers support the Green New Deal.

>>GET YOUR TICKET HERE<<

Share and invite your friends on Facebook.

What is the Campaign for Family Farms & the Environment?

The Campaign for Family Farms and the Environment (CFFE) works to oppose the national, state and local policies propping up factory farms and driving out independent family farmers, hollowing out our rural communities, and polluting our land, water and air.

The Campaign helps citizens to organize and defend local control, preserve the use of public resources for the public good, and apply more democratic decision-making.

Who is the Campaign for Family Farms & the Environment?

CFFE consists of four Midwest state-based membership organizations and two national organizations fighting against corporate factory farms.
CFFE is composed of:

  • Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement
  • Missouri Rural Crisis Center
  • Dakota Rural Action
  • Land Stewardship Project
  • Food & Water Watch
  • Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy

Our work

In the writing of the 2018 Farm Bill, CFFE organized to eliminate the use of Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) funds for factory farms and to eliminate the use of USDA guaranteed loans for new or expanded factory farms. In 2019, CFFE is focused on state policies that prop up the factory farm system in Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, and South Dakota.

We believe in a food & farm system that works for farmers, workers, eaters and the environment.

Corporate owned factory farms have taken over rural America. Where we once had independent family farmers that created vibrant rural communities we now have a corporate controlled food system. Not only do these factory farms extract profits from local communities and pollute our natural resources they are propped up by public dollars.

We believe that public dollars should be used for the public good. They should not be used for corporate interests, or to support large polluting factory farms. In Iowa there are over 750 impaired waterways that are impacted by corporate agriculture practices. What we really need is a better system of agriculture that puts people and planet first!

We organize everyday folks around preserving the use of public resources for the public good and to apply more democratic decision making. By fighting national, state and local policies that prop up the factory farm industry we are working towards a food & farm system that works for farmers, workers, eaters and the environment.

Members of Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement support closing tax loophole through H.F. 186, and demand public money be used for the public good

Des Moines, IA – According to fiscal services at the Iowa State Capitol, counties are losing at least $4.5 million dollars in revenue through property tax exemptions to the factory farm industry. Factory farms are benefiting from a tax law loophole that makes their manure pits exempt from property taxation. This preferential property tax treatment shifts the property tax burden onto neighboring small farmers and rural residents.

Representative Sharon Steckman (D-Cerro Gordo) has introduced a bill, H.F. 186, that would close the manure pit tax exemption loophole. If this bill passed at least to $4.5 million public dollars would be available to counties across the state.

Members of Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement support closing this tax loophole. According to members of Iowa CCI public dollars should be used for the public good, for fixing up roads torn up by factory farms or funding public institutions like hospitals. In Hardin County where there are over 250 factory farms, hospitals can no longer afford to deliver babies. If this property tax loophole was closed, more existing money could go to things such as infrastructure, and hospitals.

 “Instead of subsidizing large corporate factory farms, we should be using this money to support public education,” said Shannon Walker an Iowa CCI member from Wright County, “Our kids, especially in rural communities, are in schools that are underfunded. Let’s use public dollars to help them and not a 22-billion-dollar industry.”

H.F. 186 has been assigned to the Environmental Protection committee but has not been assigned to a sub-committee. Chair of the Environmental Protection committee Rep. Dean Fisher (R-Tama) is single-handedly responsible for stopping this bill.

“Iowa has over 750 impaired waterways. Factory farm manure spills are responsible for fish kills, and industrial agriculture is responsible for pollution of our water,” said Larry Ginter an Iowa CCI member, retired family farmer, and constituent of Rep. Fisher, “It’s already costing us millions of dollars to clean up our water, why are we subsidizing an industry that is causing the pollution? Rep. Fisher is clearly pandering to some of the worst polluters in the livestock industry.”

Research & policy analysis group, Food & Water Watch found that over the past three decades, the Iowa counties that sold the most hogs and had the largest farms had:

  • declining county wide incomes,
  • slower growth in median household income, and
  • declining numbers of local businesses compared to the statewide average

Members of Iowa Citizens believe in a better system of agriculture that works for farmers, workers, eaters and the environment. This system would put more farmers on the land and focus on creating vibrant rural communities by keeping the profits in rural communities not extracting them like corporate Ag.

According to Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement members, the first step toward a better system of agriculture is a moratorium on new or expanding factory farms. Thousands of Iowans are calling for a moratorium and 1 in 4 counties have passed a resolution calling for a moratorium, local control, and/or stronger permitting standards for factory farms.

A moratorium bill, H.F. 203, has also been introduced by Rep. Steckman. H.F. 203, is also assigned to the Environmental Protection committee, and is being stonewalled by Rep. Fisher.

Get involved in the Clean Water and factory farm fight

Factory farm proposing to build near you? Have concerns about an existing facility? We can work with you and your community to fight back and stand up for clean air, clean water, and your quality of life.

Rep. Dean Fisher from House District 72 is single-handedly blocking our moratorium bill, H.F. 203. That’s not right!

Thousand of Iowans are calling for a moratorium and 25 counties have passed resolutions calling for a moratorium, local control, or stronger permitting standards. We know people want change.

Still, Fisher is refusing to assign this bill a sub-committee.A sub-committee would allow for debate, discussion and public input.

Iowans deserve to see this bill discussed and a chance to weigh in. If Fisher does not assign the bill to a sub-committee it will die next Friday, March 8.

Give Rep. Fisher a call at (888) 724-8946!

Local, State and National Groups Unite in Support of Legislation Critical to Protecting Iowans from Factory Farm Pollution

DES MOINES, IA—Today, a coalition of 70 environmental, community and agricultural organizations called on Iowa’s General Assembly to advance a legislative proposal for a moratorium on new and expanding factory farms in the state. View the full sign onletter here. 

Currently, Iowa is home to over 10,000 factory farms, which produce more than 22 billion gallons of manure per year. The pollution generated by industrial animal operations has resulted in widespread water contamination and diminished quality of life throughout the state.

“Factory farms are expanding in Iowa at an alarming rate,” said Emma Schmit, Food & Water Watch’s Iowa Organizer. “We can no longer sit back and allow our water, our communities, and our independent family farms to be destroyed by factory farms. Iowa’s General Assembly must act now to address these concerns by enacting a moratorium on new and expanded factory farms.”  

A harsh, unhealthy and environmentally risky form of food production, factory farming employs an unsustainable method of raising food animals that packs together large numbers of animals into confined spaces. Among the destructive results is the production of massive amounts of animal waste, creating risks to the local environment, natural resource contamination, and the rise in antibiotic-resistant bacteria and public health hazards, including respiratory infections, asthma, skin rashes, nausea, and headaches.  

“It’s clear to Iowans that the factory farm industry is out of control. Just last year, they added over 400 new facilities, with local communities having no say over the matter,” said Barb Kalbach of Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement. “With nearly 25% of counties calling for stricter regulations on factory farms, and thousands of Iowans suffering daily from poor water quality, toxic air emissions, and a monopolized food industry the legislature must take action. The clock is ticking for the future of our state.”

A moratorium will allow legislators and regulators a chance to assess the public health, economic and societal impacts of factory farming. An unchecked rapid expansion of the industry is doing untold damage to our environment, our food, and our health. We must take meaningful action to fully understand the consequences of an industrial agriculture system.

On February 21st, Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, Food & Water Watch, and Iowa Alliance for Responsible Agriculture members from across Iowa will be gathering at the State Capitol to pressure legislators to take bold action on factory farms.

###