Imagine a factory farm operator a mile from your local community spills 10,000 gallons of toxic manure into a tile line that runs into a nearby river, lake, or stream, resulting in hundreds of fish kills.

Now imagine instead of investigating the spill and levying the toughest fines and penalties allowed by law, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources has an “informal meeting” with the operator, and sends a “letter of noncompliance” asking them not to do it again.  

Does that sound like a good deterrent to you?    

The sad thing is, the DNR already does this in too many cases.  But a new rule being pushed by corporate ag interest group, the Iowa Association of Business and Industry (ABI) would formalize this bad policy in writing, making it more difficult for everyday people to ensure strong and effective public oversight of factory farm polluters in the future, even if priorities shift in two years with a new governor and a new DNR director.

If passed, ABI’s proposed new rule would signal to the industry that the DNR is going to take a “hands-off” approach to enforcement, which could lead to more manure spills and more water pollution.

The DNR has extended the public comment period. We already have more than 150 comments on record – take two minutes now to add your voice to those opposed to this backwards rule – Click here to take action now

 

Iowa CCI members aren’t ones to sit by and just let things happen.
  • April 23 – More than 20 CCI members gave testimony for more than an hour at the Iowa DNR’s public hearing on this proposed de-regulation attempt.
  • April 23 – We dropped by the Iowa Association of Business and Industry’s Des Moines office to tell top official Mike Ralston to drop this rule.
  • March 20 – (photo above) 15 CCI members attended the Environmental Protection Commission meeting to fight back against an attempt by the Iowa Association of Business and Industry (ABI), to weaken the DNR’s ability to crack down on factory farm polluters who violate our clean water laws.

Stand up for clean water and stand up to corporate power – click here to take action now!

 

>> Want to get action alerts like this in your inbox? Sign up for Iowa CCI emails.

>> Want to be a part of the group leading the factory farm fight back in Iowa. Join as an Iowa CCI member today.

 

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Press release from our friends at Iowa Farmer’s Union, Food Democracy Now and Occupy Ames/ISU:

 

Family Farmers and Ranchers Hold Rally at Iowa State University to Protest the Collusion Between Industrial Meat Production and our Political System

 

Pink Slime versus Lean, Finely Textured Beef

Tuesday, March 10, 2012

1:30 pm

Kildee Hall, Iowa State University

Ames, Iowa – Tomorrow afternoon family farmers, ranchers and sustainable agriculture advocates will join university students to hold a rally at Iowa State University to call attention to the negative impacts that the deliberate politicization of the recent pink slime controversy has on family farmers and consumer confidence in the safety and integrity of our food supply

The rally will take place in front of Kildee Hall at 1:30 pm, exactly one hour before Iowa Governor Terry Branstad and Congressman Steve King are scheduled to hold an event called, “The Truth” a press conference regarding “Lean Finely Textured Beef” or pink slime, as it has become known. The rally organized by family farmers and organizations was put together in an effort to correct the misleading propaganda being put forward by the meat industry and politicians.

The recent controversy surrounding ground beef has brought to the public’s attention that an estimated 70 percent of ground beef in the U.S. contains an inferior grade beef parts mixture known as pink slime or “lean, finely textured beef”. While the issue has been around for several years, the controversy reached a boiling point when the USDA announced that it planned to order more than 7 million pounds for the National School Lunch Program, which according to federal regulations allows ground beef to contain up to 15 percent of the substance by weight.

The recent controversy has once again laid bare the continued problems that industrial agriculture has in hiding their worst practices from the American public and brought to light the negative consequence that industrial meat production has on family farmers and consumer confidence.

“Transparency, knowledge and choice – that is what consumers need in their spending decisions,” said Chris Petersen, a farmer from Clear Lake, Iowa and president of Iowa Farmers Union. “The facts are now coming in and once again people are questioning our food system blessed by the FDA and USDA and a lot of politicians influenced by processors, industrial agriculture, lobbyists and campaign contributions.”

Petersen’s comment about transparency in food choice and undue political influence is especially important considering the revelation that Eldon and Regina Roth, the owners of Beef Products Inc., the world’s largest producer of pink slime, have contributed more an estimated $800,000 to local, state and federal elected officials, including more than $150,000 to Governor Branstad.

With the recent loss of livestock reforms in Washington DC, known as GIPSA, which were required market protections won under the last 2007 Farm Bill and were gutted last winter under meat industry pressure, farmers and ranchers are outraged over the continued political influence of the meat industry which has driven more than 80,000 beef cattle producers out of business in the past decade with little response from Congress or USDA officials.

“Family farmers and ranchers are being used again by giant agribusiness and their pet policies to gain the public’s support for one of their most unethical practices that actually cuts the demand for beef cattle,” said George Naylor, a farmer near Churdan, Iowa and the past president of the National Family Farm Coalition. “Farmers, ranchers, and the public should not want ‘cheap’ food, but food of good quality that’s affordable,” Naylor continued.

Farmers and ranchers are so outraged over the obvious political attention and deliberate PR spin being waged by the meat industry and the political supporters that cattle producer and independent meat processor Mike Callicrate travelled from as far as Colorado to make sure that America heard the message loud and clear.

“The use of pink slime is a grave betrayal of trust to our beef eating customers. Selling adulterated, otherwise inedible tissue, to uninformed people is wrong. These irresponsible practices by USDA and our short-sighted, greed driven meat industry are ruinous to our reputation, our financial future and America’s food system,” said Callicrate.

“Americans are growing tired of the continued collusion between agribusiness and politicians”, said Dave Murphy of Clear Lake, Iowa, the founder and executive director of Food Democracy Now! a grassroots advocacy organization dedicated to reforming America’s food system. “Real farmers and cattle producers don’t support the use of pink slime in school lunches or our food supply. Not only does it suppress the price farmers receive for their cattle, but it also debases the quality of their product, something they take a lot of pride in producing.”

The farmers and ranchers will be joined by students in the ISU School of Agriculture, activists and members from Food Democracy Now!, Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, Occupy Ames and Occupy ISU.

 

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We have some good news for you!

Local factory farm owner Ryan Roberts officially withdrew his plans to expand his KK Finishers – Penn Township – factory farm site.  This win comes after a month of hard work. Members worked together to organize opposition, expose the problems with his plan and move the county supervisors to ultimately vote to deny the site.

Here is just some of what local Iowa CCI members did:

  • In December we had great attendance at the first public hearing with the supervisors on the two proposed Robertson factory farm sites.
  • We got the County Supervisors to re-score the matrix for one of the sites based on problems we identified.
  • We held a meeting with top DNR officials who agreed to look into our concerns about “double dipping”  on  their manure management plans on the Brighton Finisher site.
  • The supervisors listened to us and removed “points” on the matrix application for Robertson’s KK Finishers site, essentially ensuring that the application will be rejected.

Working with all of you in Jefferson County has really reminded me of what I love about Iowa CCI – everyday people, refusing to sit back and let things happen. That, paired with the organizing assistance and research assistance members get from our staff, is a powerful force that can’t be beaten!

Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement has a long history of working with local communities, like yours, to stop factory farm construction and working at the state and national level to put people and our environment before factory farm polluters.

Did your county pass it?

 

A record number of Iowa counties have again adopted the Master Matrix scoring system this year to give counties the right to appeal a factory farm permit issued by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR).   Eighty eight counties passed it in 2012, up from 79 counties in 2010.  Thanks to all CCI members who contacted their county officials on this important clean water issue!

The Master Matrix is the only form of local control citizens have to stop factory farm construction permits. We need all 99 counties on board!

Click here to see the DNR’s map of counties. If your county is on the list below, they did not pass the Master Matrix for 2012 – urge them to pass it next year.

  • Decatur
  • Iowa
  • Jasper
  • Keokuk
  • Lee
  • Mahaska
  • Osceola
  • Plymouth
  • Wapello
  • Warren
  • Washington

 

The construction evaluation resolution—also known as the Master Matrix—is the only tool available to citizens to stop proposed factory farm construction sites. Meaning if your county doesn’t pass it, you and your neighbors might be S.O.L (manure.outof.luck) when it comes time to fight a factory farm in your area.

Every year, each county’s board of supervisors must vote to readopt the resolution and mail it in to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources before Jan. 31. We firmly believe that all counties should have local control over factory farm siting.

 

 

You and I have a key opportunity to elevate our “People First” message in the media and with the political parties Jan. 3.

Since the national spotlight is on us, we are uniquely positioned to drive home – in a big way – a vision of good government that puts communities before corporations and people before profits.

That’s why we’re asking you to print out and take the resolutions below  to your caucuses and work to get them adopted into the party platform.  Our resolutions are woven together by a common theme – that government needs to work for everyday people and the 99%, not big money corporate interests and the 1%.

Step 1: Print out the resolutions

Step 2: Find your caucus location

All caucuses begin at 7 pm on Tuesday, Jan. 3. It is recommended you get there 20-30 minutes early. You must be registered as a Democrat or a Republican to participate in the party’s caucus, but don’t worry you can register or re-register at the door. Just in case bring your photo ID and a document, like a bill, that proves where you live. If you’ll be 18 by election day (11/6/12), you can participate!

Step 3: Attend and work to get your resolution introduced

Resolutions are general presented towards the end. Be prepared to read it aloud. If passed resolutions work their way up through both party platforms. It’s a great way to show party leaders that we’re fed up with business as usual from Washington DC, Wall Street and at our Iowa Statehouse.

Step 4: Let us know how it goes!

Contact us at 515-282-0484 or shoot us a line at iowacci @ iowacci.org to let us know your resolution passed and what precinct you are in. Also, don’t hesitate to call if you have any questions. 

 

Please click “Like” or “Tweet” below to encourage your friends to take these caucus resolutions to their caucus!

 

To be able to appeal or stop factory farm construction near you, your County Board of Supervisors must adopt the Master Matrix resolution and mail it in by Jan. 31.

 

The “Mater Matrix” is a tool counties can utilize to evaluate proposed factory farm construction sites large enough to require permits.  It’s important as it gives counties the right to appeal factory farm permits and in some cases stop factory farms from being built.

While the master matrix is not local control – it allows counties to comment on and evaluate permit applications and requires that factory farm operators meet higher standards for our environment and community.

Call your county courthouse and tell your supervisors to use the Matrix today!

 

Right now it’s the only defense counties are granted to stop the spread of factory farms.  Counties that choose not to pass the Matrix cannot file formal appeals on permits with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) Environmental Protection Commission.

Last year, 89 out of Iowa’s 99 counties passed the construction evaluation resolution in order to use the master matrix. This was the highest number of counties that have passed the resolution. But we need every county to pass it!

1. Call your county courthouse today and ask them to pass the Matrix at their January meeting.

2. Click here for a copy of the Matrix resolution.

3. Follow up to be sure the Matrix construction evaluation resolution gets mailed by Jan. 31 to:

Jerah Sheets, Dept. of Natural Resources
Wallace State Office Building, 502 E 9th St, Des Moines, IA 50319

4. We’re keeping track! Please let us know if your County passes the Master Matrix.

 

Any questions? Don’t hesitate to contact the Iowa CCI office at 515-282-0484 or iowacci @ iowacci.org.

 

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