And why your county supervisors should pass a resolution calling for one

  1. Iowa has too many factory farms. There are 27 million hogs in Iowa according to the DNR. That many hogs produce over 22 billion gallons of manure. That manure is then spread untreated onto fields across the state. Releasing harmful pollutants in our air and water.
  2. There are over 750 impaired water bodies in the state; many are polluted due to impacts from Big Ag. More than 200 community water systems struggle with high nitrate levels due to factory farms upstream. We need a moratorium now. The future of Iowa’s water depends on it.
  3. The Iowa Department on Natural Resources (DNR) can’t keep up with the factory farms. In the last five years they have discovered 5,000 “unknown” facilities, meanwhile 400-600 factory farms are added each year. At Iowa CCI we say, if you’re in a hole, stop digging!
  4. Factory farms are an economic drain on communities. Large corporate owned factory farms extract the profits and leave us with the pollution, lower property values, and ruin our quality of life. What we really need are independent family farms who buy locally, grow locally, and sell locally.
  5. We believe in an agricultural system that works for farmers, workers, eaters and the environment. If we want good-paying jobs, clean water and air, and vibrant communities we need independent family farms. Our food and farm system belongs in the hands on many independent family farmers not under the control of a handful of giant corporation. The first step towards this vision of agriculture is a moratorium, no more new or expanded factory farms.

Talk to your county supervisors about passing a moratorium resolution. This non-binding resolution will send a powerful message to elected officials at the state level that everyday folks want a moratorium!

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…

For Immediate Release: March 27, 2019

Contact: Darcey Rakestraw, drakestraw@fwwatch.org, 202-683-2467

Adam Mason, adam@iowacci.org, 515-282-0484

Aidan O’Shea, aoshea@publicjustice.net, 202-861-5240

Suit alleges state of Iowa is failing to protect its waterways from factory farms

Follow along on our Facebook livestream as we announce the lawsuit

Des Moines, IA – Today, Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement and Food & Water Watch filed a lawsuit against the State of Iowa claiming that the state has violated its obligation to protect the Raccoon River for the use and benefit of all Iowans.

This obligation is called the Public Trust Doctrine, which requires the state to protect the public’s use and not abdicate control to private interests. With well documented water pollution and only voluntary agricultural pollution controls, the suit alleges that the state is failing to uphold its duty. The groups are represented by Public Justice, Food & Water Watch, Roxanne Conlin & Associates, and Channing Dutton, of Lawyer, Lawyer, Dutton & Drake LLP.

Members of Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement and Food & Water Watch gathered at the Capitol building in Des Moines today to demand accountability for the failure of the state to uphold its duty to protect the Raccoon River, particularly from factory farm pollution.

“Iowans are tired of being told that our interests – our water, our health, our enjoyment of public waters, our drinking water, our pocketbooks – must be compromised or balanced with those of corporate ag and other industries willing to destroy our lives for profit,” said Adam Mason, State Policy Director at Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, “Our lawsuit is holding the state to a higher standard – for us, for our kids, and our grandkids.”

Emma Schmit of Food & Water Watch said, “There is a well-known, statewide water crisis in Iowa, and the Raccoon River in Polk County has been particularly harmed by pollution from factory farms. The Raccoon River runs through one of the most intensely farmed areas of the United States, where runoff from animal manure and fertilizer poses a threat to tap water and recreational use of the river. Once again, the legislature has failed to take any action on water quality, so the citizens of Iowa have stood up to say enough is enough.”

The Raccoon River is the source of drinking water for some 500,000 Iowans. Des Moines Water Works, the largest water utility in Iowa, has one of the most expensive nitrate removal systems in the world. The utility’s struggle to provide safe drinking water to Des Moines residents was documented in its 2015 lawsuit against upstream counties alleging that their failure to regulate tile drains led to excessive amounts of dangerous nitrates in the utility’s Raccoon River source water.

A bill to establish a moratorium on new and expanded factory farms was introduced in the Iowa Senate and House of Representatives during the 2019 session. Despite growing concern from citizens and an increasing number of legislative sponsors, leadership in the Iowa General Assembly refused to allow the bill to even be debated in subcommittee, and the bill died in the first funnel on March 8. No bills to address the factory farm or water quality crises remain alive in this legislative session.

Roxanne Conlin of Roxanne Conlin & Associates said, “Iowans have waited patiently for our elected officials to fix our state’s polluted public waters. As it is clear those elected do not have the willpower to take any substantive action, every day Iowans are now turning to the courts to make Iowa’s waters clean and to protect their ability to enjoy the many outdoor activities that so many Iowans hold dear.”

“The State of Iowa has an obligation to protect the public’s use of the Raccoon River,” said Brent Newell, Food Project Attorney at Public Justice. “Farmers know what practices work for their farms, communities, and the environment. But we are clearly seeing that voluntary compliance does not work in a system controlled by corporate agriculture. Iowans need a system that empowers Iowa’s farmers to be the solution and restores rural communities economically.”

This lawsuit is a response to Iowa’s failed leadership, which has allowed the agribusiness industry to degrade Iowa’s waterways, leaving citizens with the burden of pollution and the cost of cleanup efforts. The suit seeks actionable, mandatory solutions that will restore the Raccoon River and make it safe for people to recreate in and for those who rely on it for drinking water.

Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement works to empower and unite grassroots people of all ethnic backgrounds to take control of their communities; involve them in identifying problems and needs and in taking action to address them; and be a vehicle for social, economic, and environmental justice.

Food & Water Watch champions healthy food and clean water for all. We stand up to corporations that put profits before people, and advocate for a democracy that improves people’s lives and protects our environment.

Public Justice pursues high impact lawsuits to combat social and economic injustice, protect the Earth’s sustainability, and challenge predatory corporate conduct and government abuses.

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You can get involved by helping to support this case. Chip in $5, $10, $15 today!

As you know, legal action isn’t cheap. And, the Farm Bureau is going to come out swinging.

That’s why we’re asking you to dig deep. DONATE TODAY. Whatever you can give will fund the legal work, and help us the counter corporate ag’s misinformation at every turn.  

We’ll keep you updated as this case develops.

They dump it, you drink it, we won’t stop till they clean it up! 

Compared to zero in the last three years, members of Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement are worried about what this means for Iowa’s water crisis

Des Moines, IA – The Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has issued 110 “emergency exemptions” allowing factory farms to dump untreated liquid manure and raw feces onto snow covered ground over the past three months. That compares to zero in each of the last years and only 15 in 2014. The winter manure ban is in place because spreading manure on snow covered or frozen ground leads to hog manure contaminating Iowa’s waterways.

Members of Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (Iowa CCI) are worried about what this means for Iowa’s already polluted water as the spring thaw,heavy rainfall, and floods hit the state.

“When the snow melts, it drains off into our waterways, and so does everything that was spread on top of it. That includes the untreated liquid manure from these corporate-owned hogs,” said Barb Kalbach, retired nurse, 4th generation family farmer, and Iowa CCI member. “We already have 750 impaired waterways, and this is not going to help make it better.”

According to the DNR, weather conditions have left factory farm manure pits nearly full. The record number of “emergency” exemptions mean that Iowa’s already polluted water is more susceptible to pollution from factory farm manure.

“Last summer my family and I tried to go swimming at a public beach, but when we arrived there was a sign posted saying the water was too polluted to swim in. With 110 “emergency exemptions” it doesn’t look like water quality is going to improve this next summer,” said Kristyn Arnold, an Iowa CCI member, “The only emergency is the impact that factory farm and industrial agriculture pollution is having on our water in Iowa.”

Currently the state of Iowa is using the nutrient reduction strategy to combat pollution from factory farms and industrial agriculture. The program uses public dollars and is voluntary, meaning that corporate Ag can decide if and how much they would like to participate in the clean up of Iowa’s water ways.

“The factory farm industry claims to be a 112 billion dollar industry. They have the money, they made the mess, and they should be responsible for cleaning it up,” said Brenda Brink, a retired dietitian and Iowa CCI member, “Why are we using public dollars to clean up a mess these giant corporations made?”

The Road to a Green New Deal Tour, a star-studded 9-city tour across the US talking about climate change and good jobs, is coming to Des Moines, IA on Monday, April 22, 2019.

At this event, hundreds of attendees will be treated to a multimedia experience and an emotional journey through the pain of the climate crisis and pollution to the hope of the Green New Deal. The stop in Des Moines will highlight, among other issues, how a better farm and food system can address climate change. The tour will also include over 200 town hall events in churches, classrooms, and union halls across the country.

Speakers for the Des Moines, IA tour stop include:

  • Leading climate luminaries Bill McKibben & Naomi Klein live by video;
  • Rural community leaders Kim Stephens from Nevada, IA & Nick Schutt from Alden, IA;
  • Native & Indigenous leaders Lakasha Yooxot Likipt, Touches Lightning – an enrolled Cayuse member of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation & Trisha Etringer, Cax-Sep-Gu-Wiga, Eagle-That-Returns – of the Ho-Chunk Nation;
  • Youth leaders Hannah Dorf from Grinnell College & Shantal Hernandez from Ankeny High School; and
  • Executive Director of the Sunrise Movement Varshini Prakash.

On Monday April 22nd, hundreds of Iowans will gather in Des Moines to listen to stories of loss to climate change and hope that can be found in the Green New Deal. The truth is that most Americans want changes such as clean air and water, jobs in renewable energy, and preparing our infrastructure for the changing planet. As part of a greater American tour, this event in Des Moines will inspire and equip attendees to truly be the change that is necessary to move the Green New Deal forward.

WHAT: A multimedia event featuring political and community leaders discussing the promise of the Green New Deal for Iowa and the Heartland

WHEN: Monday, April 22nd at program at 7:00 pm CT, doors at 6:15 pm

WHERE: Sheslow Auditorium, 2507 University Ave. Des Moines, IA 50311. Tickets are $5 and available at sunrisemovement.org/tour.

WHO: This event is organized by Sunrise Movement and Iowa CCI. We expect hundreds of Iowans to attend to learn more about the Green New Deal and get the tools and resources they need to pressure their policymakers to get behind it.

WHY: In 2018, young people put the Green New Deal on the national agenda and permanently changed the conversation on climate policy in this country. The movement backing the Green New Deal has exploded since. The proposal has the backing of 91 members of the House, 13 Senators, as well as the support of 14 of 19 of the declared 2020 presidential candidates. A recent poll from Business Insider showed 66% of Americans say that each and every component of the plan was somewhat, very, or extremely important. And in Iowa,polling shows 91% of caucus-goers support the Green New Deal.

>>GET YOUR TICKET HERE<<

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What is the Campaign for Family Farms & the Environment?

The Campaign for Family Farms and the Environment (CFFE) works to oppose the national, state and local policies propping up factory farms and driving out independent family farmers, hollowing out our rural communities, and polluting our land, water and air.

The Campaign helps citizens to organize and defend local control, preserve the use of public resources for the public good, and apply more democratic decision-making.

Who is the Campaign for Family Farms & the Environment?

CFFE consists of four Midwest state-based membership organizations and two national organizations fighting against corporate factory farms.
CFFE is composed of:

  • Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement
  • Missouri Rural Crisis Center
  • Dakota Rural Action
  • Land Stewardship Project
  • Food & Water Watch
  • Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy

Our work

In the writing of the 2018 Farm Bill, CFFE organized to eliminate the use of Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) funds for factory farms and to eliminate the use of USDA guaranteed loans for new or expanded factory farms. In 2019, CFFE is focused on state policies that prop up the factory farm system in Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, and South Dakota.

We believe in a food & farm system that works for farmers, workers, eaters and the environment.

Corporate owned factory farms have taken over rural America. Where we once had independent family farmers that created vibrant rural communities we now have a corporate controlled food system. Not only do these factory farms extract profits from local communities and pollute our natural resources they are propped up by public dollars.

We believe that public dollars should be used for the public good. They should not be used for corporate interests, or to support large polluting factory farms. In Iowa there are over 750 impaired waterways that are impacted by corporate agriculture practices. What we really need is a better system of agriculture that puts people and planet first!

We organize everyday folks around preserving the use of public resources for the public good and to apply more democratic decision making. By fighting national, state and local policies that prop up the factory farm industry we are working towards a food & farm system that works for farmers, workers, eaters and the environment.