New CCI report: Too much manure, no political will

Iowa CCI Case Study Exposes DNR Failure to Crack Down on Factory Farm Pollution



For years Iowa CCI members have been saying that factory farm manure is being dumped with disregard for People and Planet.  We’ve been saying that there are too many factory farms in our state. There is no political will to permit, inspect, and enforce the law against them, to crack down on factory farm pollution, and protect our air, water, and land.  There are over 9,000 factory farms in Iowa that produce over 10 billion gallons of toxic, untreated manure each year.

Iowa’s waterways are becoming more and more polluted and it is clear that the biggest threats to our water are agricultural fertilizer and factory farm manure runoff.  In Iowa we’ve seen:

  • an increase in polluted waterways from 630 in 2012 to 725 in 2014 – a 15% increase,
  • 25 beach closing due to toxic algae levels,
  • Des Moines Water Works has had to run its denitrification system for 148 days in 2015, and
  • over 800 documented factory farm manure spills in recent years.

Iowa CCI members spent 2015 auditing and mapping 234 MMPs in five Iowa counties – Adair, Boone, Dallas, Guthrie, and Sac.  In these five counties there are 325 factory farms large enough to require a Manure Management Plan (MMP).  We looked for – and found – missing documents, double-dumping, over-application, potential P-index violations, incorrect application rates, and potential hazards of manure application based on the geography and farming practices of the land.

View the entire report here.

View high quality maps here

This case study points to another unchecked and unregulated cause of water pollution in Iowa – the dumping of over 10 billion gallons of factory farm manure on Iowa farmland each year.  Factory farm manure pits must be emptied each year – whether or not the land needs the nutrients.

CCI members developed common-sense proposals to improve oversight and to hold factory farm polluters accountable to protect our water, land, and communities.  These proposals consist of:

  • tough enforcement measures including Clean Water Act permits and Nutrient Management Plans,
  • increased public access to manure application records,
  • thorough inspections that find and fix problems,
  • better training across field offices for DNR staff.

We believe that if Iowa DNR implements our proposals and goes after the polluters instead of continuing business as usual, Iowa’s water quality will begin to improve drastically and we can build an agricultural system that puts People and Planet First.

This case study alleges violations of water pollution laws, which should trigger a mandatory DNR investigation under Iowa Code 561 – 3.3(17A,455A).

The following organizations support our frustration with the lack of will from Iowa DNR to hold factory farms accountable for polluting our water and have officially signed-on in support of this case study and demands.

Dallas County Farmers & Neighbors
Des Moines County Farmers & Neighbors
Food & Water Watch
Humane Society of the United States
Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement
Jefferson County Farmers & Neighbors
Poweshiek CARES
Southern Boone County Farmers & Neighbors


 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.

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