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.

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Last December, Senators Grassley and Ernst had a chance to stand against predatory payday lenders and stand with hardworking Iowans. Instead, Grassley and Ernst voted to confirm Kathy Kraninger to run the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), the federal regulator charged with policing Wall Street and predatory lenders.

After just two months on the job Kraninger is proposing to gut consumer protections against payday lending which Richard Cordray’s CFPB spent 5 years working to craft. Kraninger wants to eliminate a requirement that payday lenders confirm that a borrower can repay a loan while managing other expenses as well.  The CFPB’s own research found that 80 percent of payday loans are taken out to pay back earlier payday loans.

She isn’t doing this because they are popular, as payday lenders are despised by Democratic and Republican voters alike. Payday lending costs Iowans millions of dollars per year, and the average payday loan-consumer in Iowa has taken out 20 or more, usually just to pay back their earlier debts.

If there was ever a time for Grassley and Ernst to stand up for working Iowans, it was in December when considering who would head the CFPB. And now that Kraninger is pushing to let payday lenders operate like it’s the Wild West, Grassley and Ernst could speak out against the proposal.

But so far not a peep. Thankfully we have a chance to weigh in, as the CFPB has a comment period before they make a final decision. Please submit a comment. And then, let Grassley and Ernst know that they missed a chance to stand with everyday Iowans by confirming someone who would rather protect predatory loan sharks than their victims.

The problems with our current healthcare system are clear: the insurance and pharmaceutical industries are designed to profit off our illnesses, the elderly, and the disabled.

This is wrong, it keeps us sick, and we demand a new system that is publicly-owned, equitably funded, and not-for-profit.

A solution: The Medicare for All Act of 2019.  This bill would replace the inadequate patchwork of private insurance, out-of-pocket payment, and public programs which currently subsidize our healthcare.

An expanded and improved Medicare program would ensure that every single person in our country has guaranteed access to comprehensive health services, including dental, vision, prescription drugs, reproductive health services, and long-term care.

Under this system, patients would not be saddled with out of pocket expenses, meaning the 80 million uninsured and underinsured Americans—who are disproportionately people of color, poor people, LGBTQ, elderly, or disabled—would no longer have to go without healthcare due to the burden of cost.

Put simply, improved Medicare for All would provide better, more comprehensive healthcare for less money than we are currently spending on healthcare.

It’s time for our elected officials to take action.

Call your Iowa Representative today and tell them to cosponsor the Medicare for All Act of 2019:

  • Congressional District 1: Abby Finkenauer

Washington, DC office: (202) 225-2911

  • Congressional District 2: Dave Loebsack

Washington, DC office: (202) 225-6576

Iowa City office: (319) 351-0789

  • Congressional District 3: Cindy Axne

Washington, DC office: (202) 225-5476

Council Bluffs office: (712) 890-3117

  • Congressional District 4: Steve King

Washington, DC office: (202) 225-4426

Ames office: (515) 232-2885

After you make your call, please let us know how it went or what you heard. Contact us here. http://iowacci.org/contact-us/

Read more:

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.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE   November 12, 2018
Bridget Fagan-Reidburn, Community Organizer, bridget[@]iowacci.org, 515.255.0800

Des Moines, IA– Today, members of Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, a grassroots social justice organization, released cell phone video footage of a Monday, October 29, 2018 interaction between West Des Moines Officer Clint Ray and political canvasser, Keilon Hill. Iowa CCI members say this is more evidence of racial profiling among police officers in the Des Moines metro area.

Links to Keilon Hill’s videos:

On Monday, October 29, 2018 at approximately 3:00 p.m., Keilon Hill was door canvassing for Rep. David Young. Mr. Hill, a resident of southern Louisiana, was employed by a super PAC working on behalf of Young. After Mr. Hill interviewed a resident, he sat down on a rock next to the sidewalk to write his notes, with his campaign pamphlets beside him.

Officer Clint Ray with the West Des Moines Police Department pulled up as Mr. Hill was writing his notes. Officer Ray approached Mr. Hill and asked what he was doing around here. Officer Ray then began to tell Mr. Hill that he was soliciting. Mr. Hill explained to Officer Ray that he was not soliciting anything because he was not offering any services or selling any goods. At that point, Mr. Hill declined the interview and told Officer Ray he was going on his way. Mr. Hill was in possession of campaign materials and was clearly out canvassing.

Officer Ray followed Mr. Hill as he walked away and demanded he identify himself. Officer Ray repeated that Mr. Hill was a suspicious person. Mr. Hill asked repeatedly what crime he had committed, and Officer Ray could not provide a response. Mr. Hill declined to speak with Officer Ray further because he knew Iowa law does not require a person to identify themselves unless there is reasonable suspicion that criminal activity is afoot, and Mr. Hill was not up to anything illegal.

Because Mr. Hill declined to speak with him, Officer Ray arrested Mr. Hill for violating Iowa Code § 718.4. That statute makes it illegal to willfully prevent an officer from performing the officer’s duty. But the United States Supreme Court has held a person “may not be detained even momentarily without reasonable, objective grounds for doing so; and his refusal to listen or answer does not, without more, furnish those grounds.” Fla. v. Royer, 103 S. Ct. 1319, 1324 (1983). In other words, it is not illegal to refuse to interact with law enforcement when there is no reason for law enforcement to think that you’re doing something wrong.

This is not the first incident we have heard of African Americans canvassing for candidates where the police have been called by neighbors or the canvasser was followed by the police for simply being in a predominantly white neighborhood. Mr. Hill said the following day, he was canvassing in Urbandale and an Urbandale police officer followed him. A woman invited him into her home so the police would leave him alone.

Mr. Hill provided this statement:

“Before I came to Des Moines, I saw reports of racial profiling by the Des Moines Police Department. I watched a video circulated through social media of two African American males being profiled in a car made me apprehensive about coming to Des Moines, but work brought me here.

I do not live in this community, but I felt compelled to share my experience. There will be another 24-year-old Black man that will be stopped tomorrow, who may not know his rights. It is important to address these issues within every community in Des Moines that has suffered at the hands of an agency charged with protecting the citizens that inhabit them.

Within 5 days of my stay in Des Moines, I had two police encounters, with one ending in an arrest. These encounters happened while I was out working in affluential, Caucasian neighborhoods.  I had work materials with me. I stood up for myself because I had the right to. The laws of every state and how to handle police interactions have been embedded in my mind because you have to be ready for these things at any moment as an African American person. I hope that my story prevents another minority from going through a similar situation.”

Racial profiling has lasting effects, from economic and employment loss to being trapped in the court system. Mr. Hill, is currently applying to law school and this arrest could impact his entire future and potential career.

Mr. Hill has retained Gina Messamer, an attorney with the Parrish Law Firm to represent him in his criminal case.

This incident comes on the heels of Iowa CCI releasing dash and body cam footage of a racial profiling stop by Officers Kyle Thies and Natalie Heinemann. Iowa CCI members and the community continue to await the results of the Des Moines Police Department’s internal investigation.

Take Action
On November 19, community members will urge the Des Moines City Council to start the drafting process for a city-wide anti-racial profiling ordinance. The community is invited.  For more information, contact Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement at 255-0800.

For interview inquiries, contact Bridget Fagan-Reidburn at bridget [@] iowacci.org

 

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