On August 15, over 30 Iowans attended the Environmental Protection Commission (EPC) meeting, urging the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to grant a formal rulemaking petition submitted last month by Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement and Food & Water Watch to strengthen the master matrix, and deny proposed factory farms until the application process is improved. The DNR is currently reviewing the petition and has until September 16 to either grant or deny it.

So far, four county boards of supervisors have sent the DNR Letters of Support for the petition: Butler, Dickinson, Polk, and Johnson counties. This is in addition to fourteen counties that have already passed separate resolutions or sent letters calling on the DNR to strengthen the master matrix and/or suspend the construction of new/expanding factory farms.

>>>> Take action! Call your county supervisors and ask them to send DNR a Letter of Support for our petition. Find contact information for your supervisors here.

“Does the Iowa farmer actually feed the world? And if they’re actually feeding the world, are they poisoning it, too, with the chemicals they put on the ground and the antibiotics they put in the feed?” said James Berge, CCI member and landowner in Kensett. “We need you to take a step in the right direction by strengthening the Master Matrix.”

Created fifteen years ago by the legislature, the master matrix has failed to live up to the promise of giving communities a greater voice in the siting of factory farms and protections from the pollution they create. It has proven so easy to pass that it has amounted to little more than a rubber stamp: Applicants only need to satisfy enough of the listed criteria to obtain 50 percent of the available points – an “F” by most standards. DNR records show that only 2.2 percent of applications have been denied.

“I’ve been drinking poisoned water, and I don’t know for how long,” said Janis Elliot, CCI member from Avon, who discovered last week that her drinking water is contaminated with nitrates at 19 parts per million (ppm) – 9 ppm over the EPA’s safe drinking water standard. “Our legislature isn’t protecting us, and you’re the Environmental Protection Commission. I don’t feel like you’re protecting me, and I don’t know what to do.”

Citizens from Worth County also attended the EPC meeting to ask the DNR to deny an influx of seven new factory farms in their community.

“Worth County is the jewel and the crown of Iowa and we don’t have many CAFOs. We’re going to do everything we can to keep it that way,” said Edith Haenel, CCI member from Northwood who lives one mile from a proposed factory farm and has epilepsy that is triggered by air pollutants emitted by factory farms. “Your job is to protect Iowans – not moneyed interests.”

The petition proposals include:

  • A higher minimum passing score, requiring applicants to earn more of the possible points to obtain a permit.
  • A one-time enrollment for counties, rather than the current burdensome requirement for counties to readopt the master matrix every year.
  • Revisions to the point structure to incentivize practices that prevent or mitigate pollution.
  • New criteria that consider factors currently unaddressed by the matrix, such as karst topography, existing water pollution impairments, and water quality monitoring.
  • Elimination of criteria that do not provide meaningful environmental or community benefits.
  • Changes to strengthen existing criteria, such as increased separation distances from schools, homes, public use areas, waterways, and wells.

Iowa has over 10,000 factory farms, and more than 3,000 of these are large enough to be subject to the matrix by counties that adopt it. These factory farms produce 22 billion gallons of manure each year, and its disposal has widespread impacts on Iowa’s waterways and communities. The state’s latest impaired waters list shows that 750 waterbodies – over half of those tested – are impaired. The majority of these impairments are caused by E. coli bacteria and other pollutants associated with manure. Given the statehouse’s ongoing failure to address Iowa’s water quality crisis, DNR must do the next best thing and use its existing authority to strengthen the master matrix.

>>> Call your county supervisors today and ask them to support the petition to strengthen the Master Matrix! Find contact information for your supervisors here.

 

Join the Fight!

  • Ready to take action? Contact us to learn how to get actively involved in this fight.
  • Join as an Iowa CCI member
  • Sign up for our email Action List
  • Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

We’re excited to launch CCI’s clean energy and climate change justice organizing work and we’re coming to a town near you!

Next week we’re hitting the road to share what we’ve been learning about the clean energy landscape in Iowa and learn why you care about this issue. And, we’ll share our ideas for how we can — at the local level — organize to transition our communities to 100% clean, renewable energy that benefits 100% of the people.

And, we’re bringing along a special guest.

Ben Ishibashi is the Climate Organizer for the People’s Action network. He’ll share how communities across the country are fighting for and winning climate and clean energy solutions that put people first.

Click below to RSVP to the event nearest you:

Cedar Falls: Tuesday, August 22nd at 7pm at the Hearst Center for the Arts

Webster City: Wednesday, August 23rd at 6pm at the Kendall Young Library

Des Moines: Thursday, August 24th at 11:30am at the Central Library

Iowa City: Thursday, August 24th at 7pm at the Iowa City Public Library

Join us and learn how we can win!

P.S. Have you signed our petition? We’re calling on the Iowa Department of Transportation to use Iowa’s $21 million from the VW emissions scandal settlement to go to clean energy projects and not to investment in more fossil fuels. Sign here.


Are you looking for a way to make change in your community? We’re acting on a range of campaigns. Take a look at five ways to get involved in our people-powered grassroots movement.

 

August 2017

Job Title: Canvasser

 

Freaked out about the condition of water quality in Iowa? Upset with the decline of rural communities and the disappearance of the family farmer? Angry that Iowa’s politicians are not holding corporations accountable and think people like us should pay to clean up the water crisis?

Here’s your opportunity to do something about it, have a new experience every day, work with real people who feel the way you do and get paid while doing it! Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (Iowa CCI) is hiring full time canvassers for permanent positions in the Des Moines metro and surrounding area. We are looking for individuals who work hard and have a passion for social, economic, racial and environmental justice.

Canvassers will knock on doors and make phone calls to talk to people about political issues, sign up dues-paying members, and help build people power to create a better future for Iowa. Canvassers generally work 35-40 hours per week, Monday-Friday.

Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (Iowa CCI) is a 42 year old grassroots, member-led organization that builds the power of everyday people to win social, economic, racial and environmental justice for all. We fundamentally believe that everyday people can be a powerful force for justice and that people most directly impacted by an issue should be in the driver’s seat – making decisions and taking leadership roles. We get things done on tough issues by being strategic, persistent, and by dealing directly with decision-makers.

Responsibilities:

  • Recruiting new dues-paying members to join the organization
  • Raising money on a daily basis and meeting fundraising goals
  • Administrative reporting
  • Participation in daily trainings and meetings

Qualifications:

  • Strong communication skills
  • Positive attitude
  • Resiliency, grit and thick skin
  • Persistence
  • Ability to work well with a team
  • Goal-oriented
  • Able to walk for long periods of time up and down steps and hills in variable weather (approximately 4-5 hours per day, knocking 80+ doors and talking to 25-35 people)

Salary and Benefits:

  • Base wage of $15/hour plus competitive performance bonuses
  • Health/dental/vision insurance benefits after 60 day probationary period
  • Training is provided

How to Apply:

Email resume, 2 references and cover letter to:
Tim Glaza, Canvass Director, timg@iowacci.org

Please put “canvasser” in the subject line.

Please apply by September 1, 2017.

Iowa CCI is an equal opportunity employer. Women, members of the LGBTQ community, and people of color are strongly encouraged to apply.

 

Remember when Volkswagon was found to have sold nearly 600,000 diesel vehicles equipped with defeat devices designed to cheat emissions standards

As a result, Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT) is slated to receive a $21 million settlement. The money must be used to replace or repower diesel engines.

This is a chance for us to shape a clean energy future in Iowa! 

Add your name to our petition: Tell the Iowa DOT to invest in 100% clean energy — NOT fossil fuels

The DOT is already hearing from big-monied dirty energy interests like  the natural gas industry. Natural gas isn’t a step forward. It will keep us locked
in a fossil fuel economy and strengthen the harmful fracking industry that threatens our water.

They need to hear from you!

Take action! Add your name to our petition to tell the Iowa DOT to invest in 100% clean energy — NOT fossil fuels

These infrastructure investments from this settlement money will be around for decades to come. Now is the time to make sure Iowa uses our  resources to transition to 100% clean energy and protect our communities (not the fossil fuel industry’s profits).

Will the Iowa DOT use this opportunity to move Iowa’s clean energy forward? Sign our petition today.

Can you share our petition with your networks? 

 

Do you want a food and agriculture system that puts farmers, workers, eaters, and our environment before corporate profits? 

Join us Saturday morning, August 5, to lift up that vision for key decision makers like Gov. Reynolds, Senators Grassley and Ernst, new U.S. Secretary of Ag Sonny Purdue, and national press.

Why this Saturday?

That’s when Iowa’s self-appointed political kingmaker and corporate ag tycoon Bruce Rastetter will host his second “Corporate Ag” Summit in Des Moines. He’ll tout his vision of industrial agriculture and trade policy that puts profits before people and the land.

We need to be there to counter corporate ag’s narrative with our own vision!

JOIN US:

Saturday, August 5 @ 7 AM—12 PM
RSVP here!

WHERE:

Meet at the Iowa CCI Headquarters

(2001 Forest Ave, Des Moines, 50311)

DETAILS:

7:00 am  –  Meet at CCI headquarters

7:30 am  –  Load buses to Summit

7:45 am  –  Rally & Press event
(when we need the most people!)

9:30 am  –  Return to CCI for teach-ins
on our clean energy and clean water campaigns

RSVP today! A big turnout helps inject our vision and values into an event that is sure to get a lot of press coverage. Then share and like using the buttons below to enhance our online presence and spread the word.

by Mark A. Kuhn, courtesy The Des Moines Register

As one of 12 legislators who drafted the bill in 2002 that created the Master Matrix, a current member of the Floyd County Board of Supervisors tasked with reviewing Master Matrix applications, and a lifelong Iowa farmer, I have a unique perspective on the Master Matrix, its failings and how it could be improved.

I support the recent petition presented by the Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement and Food & Water Watch because it is needed to restore balance to a system that has failed to adequately protect the rights of all Iowans, and certain precious natural resources unique to different counties, such as Karst topography in northeast Iowa.

TAKE ACTION! Add your name to the list of Iowans that demand stronger factory farm rules.

The Master Matrix is a scoring system that awards points for livestock producers who adopt additional practices greater than the minimum required by state law. Points are awarded for increasing the minimum separated distances between concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) and churches, residences, public-use areas, and bodies of water. More restrictive manure management practices score additional points. The Master Matrix has a total of 44 questions that could result in a perfect score of 880 points, but only 440 points are required to get a passing grade.

The Department of Natural Resources’ analysis of the Master Matrix shows that certain questions pertaining to separated distances are easy to score points on and nearly every application does. Points are also awarded for practices, such as concrete manure storage structures, that are the industry standard. Other questions requiring air-quality monitoring, the installation of filters to reduce odors, demonstrating community support, implementing a worker safety and protection plan, or adopting an approved comprehensive nutrient management plan are almost never answered.

Once an applicant achieves the minimum required points, they are not required to answer any further questions. It is a pass-fail test that has failed Iowans. It is out of date and needs to be changed.

The process also puts unreasonable time restrictions on counties. Once an application is received, a county has only 30 days to review the application for accuracy, call for a public hearing by publishing notice in official county newspapers, conduct the hearing, and make a recommendation to the DNR whether to approve the application or not. If the county doesn’t deny the permit, the DNR will approve it without any review.

To make matters worse, neither the applicant nor the company responsible for preparing the application is required to attend the public hearing to answer questions about the proposed CAFO. This happened twice recently in Floyd County, leading to misinformation and distrust between livestock producers and their neighbors.

It’s no wonder that Floyd County is one of 13 Iowa counties that passed resolutions or sent letters to leaders of the Legislature and former Gov. Branstad, asking them to strengthen the Master Matrix. But those efforts at the local level fell on deaf ears in Des Moines. The Legislature and Branstad did nothing.

A bill by Sen. David Johnson (I-Ocheyedan), calling for a review of the Master Matrix by the advisory committee that originally established it was never given a hearing in the Senate Ag committee. Another bill authored by Rep. Mike Sexton (R-Rockwell City) that required the DNR to include additional water-quality criteria in the Master Matrix suffered the same fate in the House Ag committee.

However, the Legislature did see fit to approve a nuisance lawsuit protection bill for CAFO owners that limits monetary damages and lawsuits to one per lifetime. This bill was pushed by the livestock industry in retaliation to Iowans who are forced to resort to litigation because they can no longer enjoy their own property.

As a lifelong farmer, I know the value that Iowa livestock producers add to the corn and soybeans I grow. With only 2 percent of all Master Matrix applications ever denied by the DNR since the law was created in 2002, I also know the current system is weighted heavily in favor of the livestock industry.

The livestock industry and the agri-business lobby have been successful for decades in dividing Iowans on this issue by labeling any legislator who supports change as being opposed to modern agriculture and the next generation of young farmers, while ignoring the real issue: Iowans have the right to breathe clean air, drink clean water and enjoy their quality of life.

This issue is too important to Iowa’s future to be reduced to the politics of division. It is not a rural vs. urban issue. It is a neighbor vs. neighbor issue. There are plenty of rural residents and farmers just like me who support Iowa’s livestock industry, but object to a confinement barn with thousands of squealing hogs or hundreds of thousands of chickens to be built 1,875 feet from their residence, and allow the untreated waste from those animals to be spread immediately adjacent to their homes and farmsteads.

That’s why I support the petition for changes to the Master Matrix. It doesn’t call for local control of siting or a moratorium on new construction. It works within the existing system to balance the scale of justice for all Iowans.

MARK A. KUHN is the owner/operator of the Kuhn family farm, a member of the Floyd County Board of Supervisors (1992-98 and 2011-present), and a former Democratic state representative (1999-2010).

 

TAKE ACTION! Add your name to the list of Iowans that demand stronger factory farm rules.

Learn more about our filing with the DNR!

Like and share using the buttons below for a clean water Iowa!