Iowa Select factory farm decision in Humboldt County likely to go to District Court

Press release:

DNR/EPC MISSED MAJOR ERROR IN IOWA SELECT FACTORY FARM APPLICATION

Today Iowa’s Environmental Protection Commission (EPC) took no action on a Humboldt County appeal of a factory farm permit approved by DNR in January, despite being denied at the county level.   However, county officials say they will be voting to appeal this in District Court at an upcoming meeting, if ultimately approved.

During the hearing it was brought to everyone’s attention that Iowa DNR did not do it’s due diligence after Iowa Select submitted an apparently erroneous application.  The nearest home to the proposed factory farm is also a business; which changes the points they received for separation distances from a commercial enterprise, item 3 on the Master Matrix.  This would lower the Master Matrix score from 445 to 420 – a failing grade which would automatically deny the permit to build the factory farm.

“It appears that Iowa Select is not a good neighbor because if they were they would have known about our business,” said Lynsy Harrigan, daughter of the nearest neighbors of the proposed factory farm in Humboldt County.  “It seems  like Iowa Select only cares about its profits, not about the Iowans they negatively impact.  We need local control.”

However, Iowa Select attempted to make a case that the neighbors business was not a business.  State law (567—65.1 (459,459B) Definitions) says:

“Commercial enterprise” means a building which is used as a part of a business that manufactures goods, delivers services, or sells goods or services, which is customarily and regularly used by the general public during the entire calendar year and which is connected to electric, water, and sewer systems. A commercial enterprise does not include a farm operation.

The business, located less than a quarter mile away, meets all the definitions of a commercial enterprise under state law.

To address this new finding, EPC member Bob Sinclair, made a motion to table the decision, which failed.  Then EPC member Mary Boote, motioned to approve the application, which also failed.

EPC member Howard Hill abstained from voting because of a conflict of interest having worked for Iowa Select most of his life. This conflict of interest comes in addition to the $275,000 in campaign donations to Governor Reynolds from the owners of Iowa Select.

Members of Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement will continue to organize community members in Humboldt County as they challenge Iowa Select’s unwanted expansion.

This hearing also comes after two more counties – Fremont and Fayette – recently passed resolutions calling for more protections from the factory farm industry.

According to the USDA Ag Census, in 1978, Iowa had 57,325 farmers raising hogs on diversified livestock operations all across the state.  But in 2012, we had just 6,266 farmers raising hogs,” said Shari Hawk, CCI member from Ankeny.  “As we’ve increased the number of factory farms in our state, we’ve lost our independent family farmers who were once the backbone of our communities.  It’s time for a moratorium on factory farms.”

Iowa Select is the largest hog producer in Iowa and the fifth largest nationally. The factory farm application contested by Humboldt County is one of 20+ factory farms that Iowa Select proposed in the span of about two months. The EPC was originally scheduled to hear Hardin County’s appeal of an Iowa Select factory farm as well, but Iowa Select withdrew that application in response to mounting public pressure.

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.

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