A truthful, and heartbreaking, letter-to-the-editor from Iowa CCI member Charlotte Witry from Waterloo.

She ask the telling question: who do our government protections, rules and regulations work for – everyday people or corporate ag?

Read the letter, then add your name to the growing list of Iowans telling the Iowa DNR to crack down on factory farms here: http://j.mp/TelltheDNR.



No fairness in the way neighbors are treated

It is 11 a.m. on Saturday morning. I just opened the door to let the dog out and was greeted by a foul-smelling manure odor from the factory hog farm that is located 1 mile west of our residence. I have a heartsick feeling because there are three more factory hog lots of 2,400 head each under construction within 1.5 miles of our home.

Thus, we are surrounded. No matter from which way the wind blows, we will get the noxious, possibly health-threatening stink.

Our farm has been in our family for more than 100 years. We have lived here, farmed the land, raised our family, cared for, worked for and improved our farmstead through the years. Not only has our quality of life been stolen, but our greatest asset, our home’s value, has been diminished and is now worth a fraction of its prior value.

Even a criminal gets his day in court. We get nothing. No hearing, no judge, no jury, no compensation. Is this what our founding fathers in our Constitution meant by freedom of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness? Have our esteemed rulers in Des Moines decided that huge corporations’ rights to greedy profits supersede the rights of the individual? The government is charged with guaranteeing these rights for all citizens. It has failed miserably in this obligation.

The courts have ruled that government cannot take individual property for new roads, etc., without just compensation. Can the government make laws to enable the individual citizen’s property to be diminished in liveability and in value without compensation? What is fair and where is the logic?

As a result of events not of our making and beyond our control, a life’s work, savings and all of our dreams are destroyed with no hope or possibility of reversal. Is this really America?

— Charlotte Witry, Waterloo


Learn more

  • See the map illustrating the influx of new/expanding factory farms this spring and what CCI members are doing to fight back.

Take Action

Right now, while hundreds of families are worried about their quality of live, property values and environmental impact, the Assoc. of Business and Industry is trying to formalize a rule that would force the Iowa DNR to permanently take a “hands off approach” to factory farms.
  • Join as an Iowa CCI member today or chip in $10 to support our organizing on this issue.
  • Sign up for our E-Mail Action list to get the latest updates


Please LIKE or TWEET to share ask your friends to take action. Help us get 500 emails sent to the DNR this week.

Here’s a great letter to the editor that appeared in the May 10, 2012 Des Moines Register from CCI member Ray Harden. He does a great job illustrating why Dallas County – or any other county – doesn’t need any more factory farms. Good job Ray!




Dallas County doesn’t need another hog-raising facility


There are currently 51 confined animal feeding operations, or CAFOs, in Dallas County. Now another one is being planned for the Beaver Township, between Minburn and Bouton, producing 10,000 hogs a year.

The hogs will make 1,277,510 gallons of manure that will be spread on 606 acres twice a year. The waste could flow into Slough Creek, which flows into Beaver Creek and eventually into the Des Moines River near Johnston.

This hog confinement operation could add more pollutants to Iowa’s already impaired waterways. The additional nutrients cause algae blooms and possible fish kills. Also, the runoff contains harmful bacteria and other chemicals that could work their way into the water supply.

People who live near the CAFO will be able to smell it. These CAFOs produce several noxious gases which have human health risk. Besides the odor, the residents of the area will have a reduction in their property values. The developer of the CAFO lives in Boone County, upwind and several miles away from the location.

The Dallas County supervisors will hold a public hearing on this issue before granting the construction permit. The hearing is May 15 at 7 p.m. at 902 Court St. in Adel. Dallas County does not another hog confinement operation that pollutes the water and fouls the air.

— Raymond Harden, Perry

> Learn more about the influx of new/expanding factory farms across the state.

> Write your own letter to the editor. Click here for a few tips!


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After several years of limited growth in the state, the recent surge in factory farms may be attributed to a number of factors: speculations about hog prices and demand (new trade deal with Korea), a dip in corn prices, increase in chemical fertilizer prices. Or, to simplify it even more, corporate greed.

But, here in Iowa, we also know Gov. Branstad’s administration, Iowa legislators and the corporate ag lobby are pushing for an increasingly lax regulatory environment for corporate hog factories and are intent on gutting the Iowa DNR’s enforcement abilities.

Right now, while hundreds of families are worried sick about their future quality of life, property values and the environment impact, the Association of Business and Industry is pushing a new rule that would put into law that our Iowa Department of Natural Resources take a “hands off ” approach to factory farm enforcement.

The reality is they already do this in too many cases, but formalizing this practice will only lead to more factory farm expansion and more manure spills and water pollution.

Tell the Iowa DNR to crack down on factory farms today and say no to formalizing a weak environmental oversight environment that welcome factory farm expansion.

Members have already submitted more than 150 comments on the new rule. Help us double that number.


<< Return to factory farm fight page


Add your voice today and help spread the word by clicking LIKE or TWEET below.

Factory farms are not the “smell of money,” but the polluting stench of corporate ag.


These giant hog factory corporations take the profits and leave our local communities with the problems – lower property values, damaged to our roads and bridges, and more polluted water ways.


Behind almost all of the new and expanding factory farms across the state are a small handful of giant hog factory corporations:


Prestage Farms

Based in North Carolina, Prestage Farms is the fifth largest hog corporation in the country with 165,000 sows. They have more than 100 factory farms across the state, including 10 sites already in Poweshiek County where they are trying to build or expand.

Iowa Select Farms

Based in Iowa Falls, Iowa Select Farms is the sixth largest hog corporation in the country with 160,000 sows, with a history of environmental and permit violations here in Iowa. They are looking to do a massive expansion in Northeast Iowa.


Based in Minnesota, Cargill is one of the largest privately held corporations in the world. It’s the eighth largest hog corporation in the country with 123,000 sows, slaughtering more than 10 million hogs each year. In addition to backing factory farm construction, they own feed mills and pork processing facilities.

You will rarely see Cargill’s name on a construction permit, but if you do a little digging you will find that they are behind some of the most aggressive factory farm expansion in the state.  We have heard they are looking to expand at least 30 sites in Southeast Iowa alone.


Think about the numbers: We can conservatively estimate that each sow farrows 20 pigs a year. That helps put Prestage’s 165,000 sows a year in perspective.


Our factory farm organizing is as much about confronting corporate power as it is helping everyday Iowans protect our environment and stand up for their quality of life. We need to strong policies, regulations and economy that benefits the common good not just corporate interests.

Join the Fight

Tell the Iowa DNR to crack down on factory farms and say no to weakened environmental enforcement. Take action NOW.

Learn More

 << Return to Factory Farm fight page

Throughout 2012, our phones were ringing off the hook.

We had a surge in calls from across the state concerning more than 45 new or expanding factory farm sites in 28 counties. 

Below is a map that gives you some idea of where they tried to locate, but what the map doesn’t show you is that there were two to five new or expanding sites in several of these counties. What’s more, most are being built in areas already saturated with factory farms.

The good news is that Iowans fought back against these hog factories and won!

  • VICTORY! Linn County CCI members stood up for justice and didn’t back down!  They successfully stopped a 5,661 head of hog site submitted by Matt Ditch near Center Point.  Over 100 community members signed petitions, wrote letters to the editors and testified at Linn County Supervisors meetings which paid off with success!  This victory highlights the power of organizing, speaking out and not backing down. 

  • VICTORY! CCI members in Greene County stood united against a 5,000-head, Cargill-backed factory farm, and forced the developer to withdraw his plans. Read about how community pressure led to this big win here!
  • VICTORY! Story County saw a proposal for a 2,498-head factory farm less than a mile from Hickory Grove Lake that was withdrawn a week later. Concerned citizens organized to make sure that the developer didn’t come back with another proposal. What’s more, members convinced the Board of Supervisors and the Story County Conservation Board to pass resolutions condemning any proposal to build a factory farm confinement in close proximity to a county park. We’re sending a clear message to the developer that the community doesn’t want him to come back with another proposal!
  • VICTORY! In Poweshiek County, CCI members beat one 5,000-head site and are fighting another. After strong community opposition, Prestage Farms withdrew the first application. Now, the Board of Supervisors are appealing the DNR’s approval of the other. With united community opposition and a lot of hard work, we can stop the second site too! Update: Prestage Farms has re-applied for the first site, but we’re going to keep fighting and keep winning!
  • VICTORY! In Dallas County, over 55 folks organized to stop a 5,000-head Cargill-backed hog factory and they won.  They worked together, stayed hopeful, used a lot of creativity and refused to give up. Read more about the win here.
  • VICTORY! In April, new members in Floyd County successfully stopped two non-permitted (2,498-head hog each) Iowa Select hog factories from building by pressuring the developer to drop his construction plans.
  • VICTORY! Jefferson County members successfully stopped a factory farm expansion and indefinitely delayed another this winter.
  • We have provided organizing assistance to additional factory farm fights in: Davis, Marshall, Emmet, Winneshiek, Clayton, Buena Vista, Wright, Black Hawk, Keokuk, Adair, Decatur, Guthrie, Fayette, Lucas, Allamakee, Fremont, Muscatine, Page, Audubon, Linn, Adair, Union and Wapello Counties.

Join the Fight

2013 is shaping up to be another record-breaking year in the fightback against factory farming. Already, we’re seeing the corporate ag industry push bad bills at the statehouse, setting our state up for another influx of corporate hog manure. We need your help in fighting back, and here are four easy ways you can join the fight:

Learn More


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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!


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>> 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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