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.

###

Every year county supervisors need to pass and submit the Master Matrix resolution to the Iowa Dept. of Natural Resources before January 31st.

They HAVE TO pass this resolution to have the power to recommend factory farms for denial. Contact your county supervisors to make sure they pass and submit it on time! 

We know the Master Matrix is broken, but it is one of the tools counties and local people have to fight back. We also know it is time for supervisors to take a stronger stance.

DID YOUR COUNTY ALREADY PASS THE MASTER MATRIX RESOLUTION? Ask your county supervisors to pass a Moratorium resolution in addition to the Master Matrix. 

Resolutions send a powerful message to the elected officials at the state level. Already 23 counties have passed resolutions calling for a moratorium, stronger protections from factory farms and/or local control.

Contact your county supervisors and tell them to pass BOTH the Master Matrix resolution and the Moratorium resolution. Then give us an email at iowacci@iowacci.org and let us know what they said.

Do you care about clean water? Do you want to join the movement to create vibrant rural communities in Iowa? One way to do that is by meeting with your elected officials, and communicating the need for a moratorium on factory farms.

We’ve prepared a toolkit you can use when attending attending forums with your legislator. Forums are a great place for your voice to be heard and to raise your concerns with your elected officials. 

The session begins in January 2019, but you can begin reviewing the toolkit now

Iowa, we have a problem:

In Iowa,there are over 10,000 factory farms that produce more than 22 billion gallons of untreated manure which runs off our land and into our water.  In 2013, thanks to the de-delegation petition filed by Iowa CCI members, the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)agreed that Iowa’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR) wasn’t enforcing the Clean Water Act for factory farms.

The DNR was given five years to come into compliance.  Their time is almost up, and soon, the DNR will submit a final report to EPA. DNR’s work may look good on paper but nothing has really changed in Iowa.

We still have manure spills, a record number of impaired water bodies and beach advisories, inadequate DNR staffing levels, and not enough data to know what’s really going on.

We deserve to have the Clean Water Act fully implemented in Iowa. 

Click here to download the full overview and timeline.