Local, State, and National Groups Unite in Support of Immediate Moratorium on Factory Farms Amid Covid-19 Crisis

Des Moines, IA – Iowans overwhelmed by COVID-19 crisis are infuriated by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources’ removal of environmental protections from factory farms and the compromised democratic process for permitting amid the global health pandemic. 18 environmental, community, and agricultural organizations are calling on Governor Reynolds to enforce an immediate 6-month moratorium on factory farm construction permits to prevent public health and environmental exploitation by the factory farm industry.

The letter was initiated by Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement and states:

“Iowa has over 10,000 factory farms. Factory farms are a known public health hazard, causing a variety of health problems including respiratory issues especially for vulnerable populations. This is such a public health concern that the American Public Health Association has called for a moratorium. In the midst of a global health pandemic Iowans are overwhelmed with public safety and health. We should not have to worry about a factory farm moving in further threatening our public health during and beyond this crisis.”

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has rolled back environmental and health protections by allowing factory farms to cram extra animals into confinement buildings and suspending fines for environmental violations.

Additionally, despite DNR offices closing and limited activities being switched to virtual teleconference, permitting for factory farm construction is continuing. County boards of supervisors are being forced to determine how they will proceed with public comment.

“In the past, Reynolds and her administration have fought calls for local control and a moratorium at all cost in order to carry out the factory farm industry’s agenda. But now, during a global health pandemic, Reynolds and the DNR have pushed the responsibility onto each county regarding how they will handle public comment on factory farm applications,” said Louise Minor, CCI Member from West Des Moines, IA.

“The effects of the COVID-19 are and will continue to impact Iowans beyond even the immediate crisis we are facing. We are demanding that Governor Reynolds stand with the interests of everyday Iowans by protecting our public health, our right to clean water and our ability to participate in the democratic process by implementing an immediate 6-month moratorium on factory farms,” said Ava Auen-Ryan, Iowa CCI community organizer.

Iowa CCI members site growing support for a factory farm moratorium. A 2019 poll of voting Iowans showed 63% support a moratorium on new or expanding factory farms. One in four Iowa counties have passed resolutions calling on the state legislature to take action for a moratorium and stronger protections from the factory farm industry. In 2019, Iowa CCI along with Food & Water Watch and Public Justice, filed a lawsuit against the state of Iowa for their failure to address the impact of corporate agriculture and the factory farm industry on Iowa’s water crisis.

CCI members point to the growing in-state and national momentum ahead of the 2020 legislative session

For Immediate release: 12/17/19

Des Moines, IA – Yesterday Senator Booker (D-NJ) introduced a national factory farm moratorium. The Farm System Reform Act of 2019 would put a halt on all new or expanding factory farms amongst other policies to create a level playing field for independent family farmers.

Members of Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (CCI) say that this is the solution needed in Iowa to restore vibrant rural communities and clean up the state’s water.

“The factory farm industry extracts profits from our rural communities and leaves us to deal with the pollution,” said Barb Kalbach a CCI member and 4th generation family farmer from Adair county. “We have over 10,000 factory farms in Iowa, a moratorium is the only solution that matches the scale of the crisis.”

Iowa CCI points to the growing grassroots support for a moratorium across the state. With over 6,000 Iowans signing a petition calling for a moratorium, and 26 counties passing a resolution calling for a moratorium and/or stronger regulations on factory farms.

“People across the state, rural and urban alike, understand that the factory farm industry isn’t working for us,” said Brenda Brink a CCI member from rural Story county. “It is time for our state legislators to respond to our needs, not corporate ag interests. That means passing a moratorium at the state legislature.”

Iowa is the leading hog producer in the nation with over 26 million hogs in confinement at any given time, meaning 1 in every 3 hogs produced in the United States. These factory farms generate over 22 billion gallons of toxic liquid manure that is dumped untreated onto farm fields across the state. Between human and animal waste Iowa creates the equivalent of 168 million people, in a state with only 3.2 million people.

In response to the inaction of the Governor and legislature, Iowa CCI, along with Food & Water Watch and Public Justice have filed a lawsuit against the state of Iowa. This lawsuit addresses their failure to address the impact of corporate ag and the factory farm industry on Iowa’s water crisis. Iowa’s 767 impaired waterways prevent Iowans from fishing, swimming in and kayaking on state rivers and also results in higher drinking water costs.

Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement is a statewide, grassroots people’s action group that uses community organizing to win public policy that puts communities before corporations and people before profits, politics and polluters. CCI has been fighting to put people first for over 40 years. Follow us on Twitter at @iowacci.

How do we hold them accountable with our money?

We need to send IED Director Debi Durham a message. Sign the petition!

In 2016 the Prestage slaughterhouse received $24.3 million public dollars in subsidies to build in Eagle Grove. That’s money that could have been used for public schools, hospitals, and rural infrastructure. 

But that’s not the first time this slaughterhouse tried to hijack our public coffers. Before building in Eagle Grove, Prestage Foods attempted to build in Mason City. CCI members and clean water fighters successfully organized and pressured the Mason City City Council to deny the use of public money for Prestage shutting the project down.

After its loss in Mason City the Prestage slaughterhouse proposed a site in Eagle Grove. Despite strong local and statewide opposition, the Wright County board of supervisors approved the slaughterhouse proposal 3-0.

That is when Governor Reynolds and the Iowa Economic Development Authority (IED) gave the Prestage slaughterhouse $24.3 million in “incentives”. In exchange for our money, Prestage promised to create 332 “high quality” jobs that pay at least $15.54/hour with some benefits.

A review process for Prestage began in August of 2019. We want to know will the IED hold Prestage accountable with our money?

CCI leaders from North Central tried setting up a meeting with Debi Durham (Director of the IED). After two months of “scheduling” the IED agreed to a meeting only to cancel two days before.

Now, they are trying to push our meeting off another two months.

Sign our petition demanding that Durham meet with CCI members and hold Prestage accountable for our public dollars.

If Prestage hasn’t fulfilled their promises, they need to pay that money back!

We know the true impact corporate ag has had on rural economies. Town squares with bordered up shops, fewer and fewer job opportunities, and hospitals that no longer deliver babies.

We can’t, and never have been able to afford the cost of propping up the factory farm industry. Join us in demanding that Durham meet with CCI members and hold Prestage accountable for our public dollars.

Sign our petition now – public money should be used for the public good.

NAFTA: Putting family farmers out of business since 1994

Since NAFTA’s start in 1994, “free trade” schemes have dramatically increased corporate profits at the expense of everyday people, including the hundreds of thousands of U.S. farmers who have been pushed out of business since its inception.

Join our letter campaign on Action Network! Send an email to your elected official now tell them to vote NO to NAFTA 2.0.

USMCA is nothing more than NAFTA 2.0. Tell your elected officials in the US House of Representatives to vote NO on NAFTA 2.0 (USMCA) until we have a fair trade agreement that works for workers, farmers, communities and our healthcare.

It is better to take the time needed to get this right then get it wrong and worsen the problems we’ve had for the last 25 years.

Right now, the political establishment is pushing for NAFTA 2.0, which will continue to maximize corporate profits at the expense of farmers, workers and communities.

Send an email to your elected official now tell them to vote NO to NAFTA 2.0.

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) finally released the Impaired Waterways List and the public comment period is officially open. Submit your comment by December 28.

Did you know?

This report is supposed to be released on April 1 of even numbered years according to federal Clean Water Act requirements. Yet, the DNR released it more than 19 months late.

Of the over 1,400 segments from streams, rivers, lakes, and wetlands that the DNR investigated:

  • Only 363 segments fully met Iowa’s water quality standards
  • 767 segments are impaired
  • 523 segments are still in need of further investigation

The DNR has no timeline to finish the investigations that need to be done. With the status of over 500 segments unknown, there is a possibility that over 90% of the segments are impaired.

This confirms what Iowa CCI members have been saying all along: the state of Iowa is failing to protect Iowa’s waterways.

Despite this, the supervisor of the DNR water monitoring and assessment program, Roger Bruner, described the number of impairments as “fairly minor” and claimed the list is “like going to the doctor and finding out you have high cholesterol”.

Clean water is a basic human right! And, downplaying the severity of over half our waterbodies being impaired is a gross misrepresentation of the clean water crisis we are in.

What do I want for Christmas this year? CLEAN WATER!

Help us get the clean water we have a right to and submit your comment to the DNR here.

Thanks for attending the Iowa CCI / Sunrise Green New Deal Tour Stop in Des Moines on April 24, 2019.

But the action doesn’t stop here, we’re just getting started! Here are 3 things…

to do in the next 3 days…

  • Call/Email your US Congresspeople and tell them to support the Green New Deal! None of our Senators or Representatives have signed on to support this resolution to take concrete action on climate chaos.
  • Call your State Rep. and tell them to VOTE NO on SF 583 – the bill to gut Net Metering in Iowa: 515-281-3221 (House Switchboard)

to do in the next 3 weeks…

  • If you live in Des Moines, contact the city council and tell them to support a climate action plan.
  • Attend the May 3 Climate Strike led by young people at the Iowa Capitol. 10am-1pm @ Iowa State Capitol, Des Moines.
  • Join us at the Iowa CCI HQ in Des Moines on Thursday, May 16th, to strategize on our next steps to build support for the Green New Deal!

to do in the next 3 months…