Do you care about clean water? Do you want to join the movement to create vibrant rural communities in Iowa? One way to do that is by meeting with your elected officials, and communicating the need for a moratorium on factory farms.

We’ve prepared a toolkit you can use when attending attending forums with your legislator. Forums are a great place for your voice to be heard and to raise your concerns with your elected officials. 

The session begins in January 2019, but you can begin reviewing the toolkit now

Contact:
Jess Mazour, Community Organizer, 515-282-0484, jess@iowacci.org

Des Moines, IA. – The Iowa State Association of Counties (ISAC) legislative committee finalized their 2019 legislative priorities at their annual meeting last week.  The legislative recommendations include changes to Iowa’s factory farm permitting and tax systems.

Iowa CCI members are pointing to the action as a sign of growing support for a factory farm moratorium on new and expanding factory farms in Iowa.

The ISAC legislative proposal includes addressing the failure of the Master Matrix and making factory farms pay their fair share of taxes:

  • “As this subject continues to be of growing concern to some county boards of supervisors, ISAC strongly encourages that this [Master Matrix] review be conducted by 2020.”
  • “The result is that the construction of any new agricultural building adds zero net value to Iowa’s property tax base.  This situation is doubly problematic because large-scale livestock operations and grain facilities impose significant additional costs on counties, such as for road maintenance, without expanding the tax base to help pay for those costs.”

“It’s about time that ISAC recognizes that factory farms are harming Iowa counties – not helping them,” said Barb Kalbach, family farmer and CCI member from Dexter. “We’ve tried small tweaks to the Master Matrix, filing complaints about manure management plans, lobbying against tax exemptions, and the legislature is unwilling to act.”

“As an independent family farmer, I pay my fair share of taxes. My corn and soybean farming operation adds revenue and value to Adair County. Our current tax policies allow factory farms to skirt their fair share of taxes. That forces everyone in the county to make up the difference.” Added Kalbach.

Iowa CCI members have pointed out that factory farms are exempt from all kinds of taxes that independent family farmers aren’t exempted from.  Factory farm buildings add no new tax revenues to county coffers.  Manure pits get a tax break under the Pollution Control Tax Exemption.  Wholesale rates on water and electricity are obtained, and factory farms don’t pay sales tax on key inputs, like feed and energy.

The lack of county revenue from the factory farm industry has forced some counties to change their Local Option Sales Tax (LOST) formula – a local program to offset propoerty taxes.

“My roads are constantly being torn up by the dozens of daily semi-trucks driving past my house.  I’m afraid my daughters are going to get in an accident because of the status of the roads,” said Nick Schutt, CCI member and resident of Hardin County.

“Now the Hardin County Supervisors want to change our LOST formula. If implemented, property owners property taxes will increase so the county can keep up with road maintenance,”  added Schutt.

The Hardin County Supervisors have proposed changes to the LOST formula.  Right now 80% of LOST revenue in Hardin County is going to offset property taxes.  The proposed formula would change that to 40% for offsetting property taxes and 40% for maintenance, improvement, and construction of roads and bridges.

The Hardin County LOST formula change will be on the ballot in November.

Last year, CCI members gathered input from Iowans affected by factory farms across the state and filed rulemaking to strengthen the Master Matrix with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR).  The DNR dismissed the entire rulemaking petition without considering changes to protect our air, water, land, and communities.

“We have already submitted our recommended Master Matrix changes to the DNR and the legislature.  They refuse to act.  That’s why we’re calling for a moratorium on all new and expanding factory farms.  We can’t wait for little tweaks anymore.  We need to stop the expansion now,” said Emma Schmit, Iowa CCI member in Calhoun County.

As of today, CCI members and allies have successfully organized 23 counties to pass resolutions calling for a moratorium, local control, and/or stronger protections from the factory farm industry.

 

Click here to view the ISAC 2019 legislative proposals

Yesterday, CCI member Emma Schmit drove two hours — each direction — to give two minutes of testimony at the Statehouse.

Why? Because she is surrounded by factory farms which is causing her hometown, Rockwell City, to wither on the vine.

Emma was one of over 50 CCI members — representing 22 counties — who testified at Tuesday’s Environmental Protection Commission (EPC) meeting. We were there to sound the alarm that Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is still not in compliance with the federal Clean Water Act. 

If you believe, like Emma does, that we deserve to have the Clean Water Act fully implemented for existing factory farms in Iowa — I’m asking you to chip in $20, $25 or more if possible today to ramp up the public pressure.

Five years ago, thanks to your relentless pressure, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) forced the Iowa DNR to sign a 5-year Work Plan to bring Iowa into compliance with the Clean Water Act for factory farms.  As a key deadline approaches this August, DNR will be submitting their progress report.

On paper, the DNR hopes to show they’ve checked all the boxes. But with a record number of impaired waterbodies and beach advisories, Iowans know that’s not the case.

In a letter we submitted to the EPA on Tuesday, we laid out the case for why we the DNR is still not in compliance with the Clean Water Act.  The DNR:

  • has not assessed and inspected all 5,000 “unknown” facilities that flew in under the radar.
  • does not have enough resources or inspectors to oversee this industry
  • has failed to issue a single Clean Water Act permit to a polluting hog factory farm.
  • does not have consistency and compliance with inspections and record keeping.

A total of 15 organization signed on in support of our letter.  You can watch our press conference here.

Our eyes are on the August Work Plan deadline and a clean water Iowa. We can’t let DNR off the hook — and we need to make sure EPA doesn’t, either.  Our water is too important.

Luckily, organized action is what CCI members do best.

In the next few months, we’re:

  • ramping up pressure on DNR in person and in the media to continue to sway public opinion towards a moratorium;
  • moblizing and engaging thousands of Iowans who care about our air and water to help us build the public record that DNR is still not in compliance with the Clean Water Act; and
  • building our legal case with our allies at Food and Water Watch, to make sure existing factory farms in Iowa are held to higher standards under the Clean Water Act.

Now is not a time to back down. More and more Iowans are fed up. One if five Iowa counties are calling for action to stop factory farms.

Help us keep the fight to say NO MORE factory farms and YES to clean water hot through the summer and into the election.

Can you chip in $20, $25, $50 or more to make sure we can deliver our clean water message to more Iowans than ever before?

We deserve to have the Clean Water Act fully implemented for existing factory farms in Iowa. And, we can’t just continue adding factory farms to our landscape — we need a moratorium.

THEY dump it. YOU drink it. WE won’t stop ’til THEY clean it up!

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, May 15, 2018
CONTACT: Jess Mazour, 515-282-0484 or jess@iowacci.org

 

One Hundred People Gather at Iowa Select Headquarters to Demand an End to Jeff Hansen’s Factory Farm Expansion
Factory farm fighters from across the state stand together calling for a moratorium

Iowa Falls, IA – This afternoon, nearly one hundred people gathered at Iowa Select’s office in Iowa Falls to demand CEO Jeff Hansen withdraw all pending factory farm applications and immediately stop building factory farms. With over 500 factory farms, Iowa Select is the largest pork producer in the state and has been expanding aggressively in the past year, despite mounting public calls for clean water and a moratorium.

“Iowa Select is expanding rapidly all across Iowa with no concern for our rural communities, our health, our water, or our air,” said Julie Duhn, a CCI member from Eldora. “As you can see from all the people here, this is a statewide fightback, and our only hope of stopping this out-of-control industry is if we fight back together. We can’t back down now, or big money corporations like Iowa Select will just continue exploiting us.”

“Factory farms dump pollution on our beautiful state and the industry doesn’t even pretend to care. Our legislators apparently don’t care, either. Since our politicians appear to be bought and sold by the industry, our communities have been stripped of local control with virtually no protections from factory farm pollution,” said Nick Schutt, a CCI member from Alden. “We’re left with no other choice than to take our message directly to Jeff Hansen and demand he stop this out-of-control expansion.”

In 2017, the Hansen family donated $275,000 to the gubernatorial campaign for Governor Kim Reynolds.

Community members delivered a letter to Hansen.

“Building factory farms is not Iowa nice. Polluting our precious water with millions of gallons of untreated manure is not Iowa nice. Sickening our communities with hazardous air emissions is not Iowa nice,” the letter read.

Iowa Select has been the subject of widespread scrutiny because of its massive factory farm expansion over the past year. Iowa CCI identified at least 27 factory farm applications associated with Iowa Select in the past six months, adding to more than 137,000 hogs. Iowa State University’s swine manure calculator estimates that this many finishing hogs would produce 57.5 million gallons of manure per year. These figures may be low, however, because Iowa Select uses various LLCs on their applications, making it difficult to identify all of their factory farms.

In an interview with Successful Farming last year, Hansen acknowledged that the new slaughterhouses coming online – including the Prestage slaughterhouse south of Eagle Grove – are driving his expansion.

The company also regularly builds factory farms just under the threshold that would trigger more state and local oversight. For instance, confinements with 2,500 head of hogs require the Master Matrix – but Iowa Select often avoids it by applying for confinements with 2,490 head of hogs.

“Iowa Select’s huge expansion is just one more sign that we need a factory farm moratorium now,” said Dave Haynes, a CCI member from Duncombe. “We’re at a tipping point. Enough is enough!”

“Iowa Select does not represent our vision for Iowa. We want more family farms, not fewer. We want clean water, not dirty water. We want thriving communities, not corporate-controlled communities,” said Emma Schmit, a CCI member from Rockwell City. “For that to happen, it takes all of us coming together in this battle of David vs. Goliath.”

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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At our staff meeting yesterday we watched the video of the time CCI members caroled the Iowa DNR office with our own version of classic holiday songs.

That prompted us to send you this — our version of a holiday letter, Clean Water, Factory Farm Fighting-style. We hope you’ll take the time to give it a read — there are some really great updates and wins from the last few weeks.

Thanks so much for all you do. We’re ready to stand with you to build the movement for clean water, a factory farm moratorium, and local control in the New Year!


Holiday card blitz! 

Rumor has it that Jeff Hansen – owner of Iowa Select, Iowa’s largest hog corporation – has even more factory farms on his Christmas list.

Here’s an easy way to stand with fellow Iowans fighting to stop 20 (!!!) proposed Iowa Select hog factories. (Like the Hardin County members who packed their supervisors meeting yesterday, successfully getting them to delay their decision two weeks.)

Send an extra holiday card to tell Jeff that all you want in the New Year is for him to stop building factory farms!

Mail to: Jeff & Debra Hansen, 1469 Glen Oaks Drive, West Des Moines, IA 50265.

Two of our Ames members made the “postcard blitz” popular during the #NoDAPL fight, and we loved the energy it brought to the movement. Check out our Facebook event. Post a picture of the card you are sending and invite your friends to do the same here.


Your online actions work!
DNR drops bad proposal to weaken testing of E.Coli in our water

Over 700 Iowans — including at least 216 CCI Action members — submitted comments opposing the Department of Natural Resources’ sneaky attempts to weaken testing for E.coli bacteria (which largely comes from factory farm manure) in our precious waterways. This change would’ve made water impairments harder to track, and put our health and safety at risk. Shout out to the Iowa Environmental Council for sounding the alarm in September.


Your call for a factory farm moratorium and local control is gaining steam!

21 Iowa counties have called for stronger rules for factory farms — whether by passing resolutions or writing letters to the state pushing for a moratorium, local control, or strengthening the Master Matrix permitting process.

  • Over 1,500 members weighed in to say you want a stronger Master Matrix. The EPC is making a recommendation to the legislature, and your energy helped force the public debate in the media.
  • Farm News — a newspaper which gets delivered to thousands of farmers and rural families in North Central Iowa — is the latest to weigh in for stronger local control. In their editorial “Hog confinements raise concerns: Webster County Supervisors raise valuable scrutiny”, they say:

“More broadly, we believe the Legislature should consider giving local governments more discretion in this process. City and county officials are in a better position than DNR bureaucrats to know how a confinement project will impact their communities.”

“…perhaps lawmakers should do what county supervisor boards, rural residents, environmental groups and others have asked. If lawmakers can’t provide more local control, then they should pass a moratorium on new confinements.” 

 


Thanks so much for standing for clean water with us this year.Together we’re working to put People & Planet before profits, politics, and polluters. We couldn’t have done it without you!

Look for CCI Action’s legislative forecast, lobby days, and our annual call for counties to pass the Master Matrix soon!

Victory!  We haven’t stopped the Iowa Select factory farm yet, but it’s safe to say that we planted enough doubt in the minds of Hardin County supervisors that they delayed their decision until Wednesday, December 27 @ 10am.  That means we have two more weeks to organize and put pressure on Iowa Select and the Supervisors to stop this factory farm expansion.

Around 30 people showed up in opposition to Iowa Select’s factor farm at Wednesday’s hearing. Their powerful testimonies covered a range of topics, including air, water and quality of life pollution, property value loss, loss of the family farmer, lost county tax revenue, destruction of historical places, and destruction of county values and vision.  You can watch the hearing here.

We were powerful, organized, and unified.  Even Senator Johnson, Independent State Senator from Osceola County, joined us at the hearing to set the record straight about what power the Supervisors have. He made it clear that the supervisors have the power to take points off the Master Matrix and recommend that DNR deny the application.

Over the past couple months, Iowa Select has submitted 20 applications in 9 counties to build or expand factory farms. These new factory farms will produce millions more gallons of manure each year.  You know that Iowa’s water is already polluted, including Pine Lake in Hardin County, and we don’t need any more manure in our state!

We’ve also heard rumors that Iowa Select has plans for 19 new factory farms in Hardin County alone in 2018. 

That’s why we have to use the next two weeks to pressure the Supervisors to take points of the Master Matrix, and we have to pressure Iowa Select to stop building factory farms in our communities.

Here are the next steps in our campaign to stop the Hardin County Iowa Select factory farm:

  • Attend the Supervisor hearing in Eldora (courthouse) on Wednesday, December 27th @ 10am
    • We need to outnumber Iowa Select!
  • Call your Supervisors and Iowa Select and tell them why they should stop the expansion
    • Iowa Select – 641-648-4479
    • BJ Hoffman – 641-939-8220
    • Lance Granzow – 641-939-8221
    • Renee McClelland – 641-939-8222
  • Join Iowa CCI as a member to support our work to stop factory farms and fight for clean water across the state.

Iowa Select may have money, but we have each other.  Wednesday’s hearing showed that when we come together and organize, we can stop big money. Please contact Iowa CCI at 515-282-0484 if you have any questions.

 

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.