Members to speak on spike in factory farm permits in Iowa

On November 15, the Environmental Protection Commission (EPC) will meet in Wright County, where the Board of Supervisors recently approved a 20,000 kill-per-day slaughterhouse.

Iowa CCI and other community members will attend the meeting and call for greater protections from the factory farm industry, including better rules and regulations, inspections that find and fix problems, tough fines and penalties for polluters, local control, and a moratorium on new and expanding factory farms.

>>Click here if you join us at the EPC mtg Nov. 15 in Wright Co.

As reported by the Mason City Globe Gazette on October 31, there have been “95 permit applications or site approvals through Oct. 25, compared to 70 for all of last year and 43 for 2014” in the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Region 2 field office [Figure 1]. Region 2 includes Wright County.

Figure 1

DNR Field Offices Map

Capture

 Source: http://www.iowadnr.gov/fieldoffice

According to the DNR’s Animal Feeding Operations online database, applications for medium and large factory farms (those that house 500 animal units or more) have more than doubled in Region 2 this year compared to the previous two years [Figure 2]. Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement anticipated this increase following the announcement in March that Prestage Farms wanted to build a massive slaughterhouse in North Central Iowa. The slaughterhouse proposal was voted down in Mason City in May, but was approved in Wright County in August.

Figure 2
Permitted (medium, large) factory farm applications between 1/1/16 – 11/1/16

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The DNR Region 3 field office – which has the greatest concentration of factory farms – also saw a spike in medium and large factory farm applications in 2015 following the approval of the Seaboard Triumph Foods slaughterhouse in Sioux City. The slaughterhouse is currently under construction and expected to be operational in 2017.

“We knew from the get-go that Prestage’s proposal didn’t just include a slaughterhouse – it also included a massive expansion of the factory farm industry. That’s what we said all along, and that’s exactly what we’re seeing now in North Central Iowa,” said Veronica Guyader, a Wright County resident who actively spoke out against the slaughterhouse project. “We have to remain vigilant and fight back against all of these new factory farm applications. We need better regulations from our legislature that protect the people of Iowa, not the factory farm industry.”

Cerro Gordo County Supervisors recently recommended denial of a 4,992-head factory farm application due to environmental and community impact concerns. The DNR approved the application anyway, and the supervisors appealed that decision to the Environmental Protection Commission. The Branstad-appointed EPC overturned that appeal in October.

“Since we’re seeing so many factory farms popping up in this area, it’s clear that we need more discretion at the local level. We have a right to decide what happens in our own community,” said Phyllis Willis, a CCI member from Fertile, Iowa. “Right now, the DNR and EPC hold all of the power, and their current rules and regulations don’t have our best interests at heart. We need local control and a moratorium on new and expanding factory farms.”

In the past month and a half, Webster County received and approved the applications of five hog factory farms. A sixth factory farm application in Webster County is slated for review at the upcoming Board of Supervisors meeting. In September, Webster County Supervisors also denied a large factory farm application after hearing public outcry due to environmental, health, and water quality concerns. After the county’s review, the applicant received a Master Matrix score of 315 points – a failing grade.

“I am deeply concerned and troubled by the sudden influx of factory farms coming into my community,” said Diane Keyser of Fort Dodge. “This is only going to get worse in the future unless we do something about it. We need our leaders to stand up to this industry, and we need more protections and local control to address this growing problem.”

 

 Source: http://www.iowadnr.gov/fieldoffice

Data retrieved from DNR’s online database 11/1/16

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Factory farm proposing to build near you? Have concerns about an existing facility? We can work with you and your community to fight back and stand up for clean air and water and your quality of life.

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In late October we put out a call for you to write letters to the editor to help advance our narrative around factory farming and the environment.  We want to make sure our legislators hear loud and clear that:

  • Farming practices that protect our water should be mandatory – voluntary compliance does not work.
  • Big Ag polluters (like Cargill, Prestage, Farm Bureau, and Monsanto) must pay to clean up the water quality mess they’ve created – not taxpayers.
  • Every factory farm in Iowa needs a Clean Water Act permit, meaningful inspections, and tough fines and penalties when violations occur.
  • Iowa needs a factory farm moratorium now!

 

Wow!  You knocked it out of the park.  Check out these spot-on letters that were submitted by CCI members from around the state.

DNR’s changes to factory farm rules is wrong – Joyce Bollhoefer – Marshalltown Times Republican

CAFO regulations need changing – Tom Willett – Mason City Globe Gazette

EPC changes will make water quality worse – Bernie Fischlowitz-Roberts – Des Moines Register

How, exactly, will sales tax improve water quality? – Erich Riesenberg – Des Moines Register

To Branstad: put moratorium on new hog confinements – Eric Wessels – Des Moines Register

Branstad, Republican-controlled legislature are Iowa’s ruin – Jim Walters – Iowa City Press Citizen

 

This is one way we can shift the narrative and it’s not to late to add your name to the list of letter writers!

  1. Submit a letter to the editor to your local paper and send a copy to jess@iowacci.org.
  2. Let us know if there’s a letter that we missed.  Send an email to jess@iowacci.org

LIKE and SHARE for a #CleanWaterIowa

We have an exciting win for worker justice in Iowa to share with you!

After four months of organizing, nearly 30 workers voted YES to join the DMI American Postal Workers Union (APWU) Local 44.

In July, a group of workers from PAE in Urbandale came to Iowa CCI to organize and improve their working environment. PAE – a subcontractor for the US Postal Service – was cutting benefits, freezing wages, increasing production rates, and retaliating against long-time employees.

A group of 18 workers – mostly women, mostly Latina – met weekly to develop organizing strategies to take back their workplace. Week after week more workers joined with us.

We teamed up with DMI APWU Local 44 organizers in Des Moines to prepare workers to take all the necessary steps to form a union – the most powerful move to secure worker rights and fair treatment.

Last Friday afternoon, they officially won their union in a HUGE landslide vote!

It’s been exciting to see the courage of these workers who – true to CCI style – aren’t ones to stand by and just let things happen. They talked, they acted and they got things done – making their workplace better for all.

In the battle for an economy that truly works for everyone, not just the wealthy few, I think you’ll agree that this is an exciting win. And, the work has just begun. Stay tuned as these workers negotiate – and win – their first union contract.

LIKE and SHARE for a Fair Economy Iowa!

CCI members and pipeline fighters are witnessing numerous construction violations by Dakota Access. We’re even seeing these violations captured on tape!

But there’s been no accountability from local county inspectors or the Iowa Utilities Board. (1)

Tell the IUB to crack down on Dakota Access immediately for violating their permits and construction contracts!

Dakota Access…

  • Is required to stop construction in soggy conditions to avoid negatively impacting future productivity of farmland – but they’re violating that term and have even been seen working in rain and standing water.
  • Is leaving trash and burying metal scraps in farm fields, which is not only disrespectful but a major safety hazard and obstacle for future planting and field work.
  • Has not been separating the fertile topsoil from the clay subsoil – a clear and major violation of the Agriculture Impact Mitigation Plan that was part of the IUB permit to ensure fertile farmland after construction.

If you find these reports as appalling as we do – take action today to tell the IUB to hold Dakota Access accountable!

The Iowa Utilities Board must halt construction in Iowa until all construction violations by Dakota Access have been processed and addressed. Our land and water are too important.

LIKE and SHARE to say #NoDAPL

Join the #NoDAPL Resistance! 

LIKE and SHARE to say #NoDAPL and #WaterisLife

As the issue of raising the minimum wage spreads from Iowa counties to finally garnering the attention of Governor Branstad, new research shows that single workers in Iowa must be paid $15.10 per hour just to cover basic expenses. Those paying off student debt must be paid $16.74 per hour.

Waiting for the Payoff: How Low Wages and Student Debt Keep Prosperity Out of Reach, a new report from People’s Action Institute calculates living wages, both with and without student debt payments, for all 50 states and Washington, D.C.  The report shows that Iowa’s minimum wage of $7.25 represents only 48 percent of the true cost of living for a single person. For families with children, the minimum wage lags even farther behind.

  • Read the full report, titled “Waiting for the Payoff: How Low Wages and Student Debt Keep Prosperity Out of Reachhere.
  • Iowa specific data, with Polk & Story County breakdowns, can be viewed here.

Featured in the report is Iowan Tonja Galvan, who has been actively involved in the campaign to raise the minimum wage in Polk County.  Tonja notes that even though she makes what is considered a living wage, her mother and daughter do not, so along with her granddaughter all must live under the same roof just to try and make ends meet.

A living wage would allow families like Tonja’s to cover basic expenses, such as housing and utilities, and save modestly for emergencies.

With wages falling far below the cost of living, many Iowans are working two or three jobs, cutting back on essentials like food, borrowing from predatory lenders, living in vehicles, or taking other drastic measures to get by.

These figures show how modest a $15/hour wage increase proposal is. We need to raise the minimum wage to $15/hr with no exemptions and no pre-emption. We cannot put the interests of big business corporations over everyday people. It’s time to raise the wage for all Iowans.

As we move the Fight for $15 forward to the Statehouse next session, it is crucial that as many people as possible know $15/hr is not just ideal, but a researched back necessity for hundreds of thousands of Iowans.

SPREAD THE WORD.  LIKE and SHARE this blog via social media and email.

We’re getting closer and closer to a living wage. Let’s keep going!

Join the Fight!

Keep the momentum going! LIKE and SHARE this blog to #Fightfor15

Tuesday October 18th , the Department of Natural Resources and its Environmental Protection Commission had a chance to crackdown on factory farms and stand up for our people and planet– but they refused to…again.

EPC and DNR could have:

  • Closed corporate loopholes and protected our water. Instead, they took a step backwards and actually weakened the rules.
  • Listened to the Cerro Gordo Board of Supervisors and local community members and voted no on a new factory farm construction permit. Instead, they approved it.

DNR Director Chuck Gipp says changes must come through the legislature, but we know that’s not true. The DNR said multiple times – in its own report – that they have the authority to make improvements through rulemaking. They just refuse to do so.

That’s “business as usual” for our state leaders – putting the interests of corporate ag before people and planet. Infuriating, no doubt.

We can’t let this slide! Our water is too important!

As clean water continues to stay hot in the public debate, with talk of throwing tax payer dollars at the problem, we must continue to keep the pressure on and lift up our common sense solutions.

Can you write a letter to the editor to help us shift the narrative?

  • Call out the DNR and the EPC on their blatant inaction.
  • We need mandatory rules and regulations and tough enforcement, not voluntary compliance.
  • Make polluters pay to clean up their own messes, not taxpayers.
  • We need a moratorium on new and expanding factory farms now!

We want to get ten letters to the editor published in the next month. Email Erica at ericab@iowacci.org if you need assistance.

They dump it, you drink it. We won’t stop until they clean it up!

Join the Fight

Factory farm proposing to build near you? Have concerns about an existing facility? We can work with you and your community to fight back and stand up for clean air and water and your quality of life.

LIKE and TWEET to stand against factory farms