Giant Factory Farm Proposal Near White Rock Conservatory in Raccoon River Watershed Draws Community Opposition

 Guthrie County CCI members directly impacted by proposal documented flaws in the Master Matrix application

 

The Guthrie County Board of Supervisors voted 3-0 today to recommend that the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) deny a construction permit to a giant factory farm proposed by Brushy Creek Farms, LLC that would have been built near the impaired Brushy Creek, a tributary to the polluted Raccoon River, and two miles from the White Rock Conservatory.

Guthrie County-based members of Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (Iowa CCI) identified flaws in the permit application and Master Matrix that formed the basis for the county’s denial recommendation.  Iowa CCI is a statewide community action group that uses community organizing as a strategy to build grassroots power and win public policy that puts people first.

“I’m surrounded by 5,000 corporate hogs and this area is the only place left near me that I can ride my horses and still smell sweet air,” said Lori Nelson, a CCI member from Bayard, Iowa.  “These factory farms have forced me out of my own home and my own property and I’m here today to demand you stop them from pushing me out of my own county, too”.

The Iowa DNR has 30 days from receipt of the county’s letter to make a determination on the case.  If the DNR objects to the county’s recommendation, Guthrie county may appeal to the Environmental Protection Commission, a public oversight board stacked by Governor Branstad with factory farm insiders like Gene Ver Steeg and Brent Rastetter.

Earlier this week, Tama County recommended the DNR deny a factory farm owned by Iowa Regent President Bruce Rastetter.  Local Tama County-based CCI members led the campaign.  CCI members on the border of Story and Marshall county also convinced a local developer working with Cargill to cancel his plans to build a giant factory farm near State Center, Iowa.

Factory farm pollution in the Raccoon River has drawn statewide attention in recent weeks after Des Moines Water Works announced it had turned on a $3.6 million nitrate removal system because nitrate levels in the Raccoon and Des Moines Rivers were too high to meet federal standards.  The system costs $7,000 a day to run, a cost imposed on 500,000 customers in Central Iowa.

Iowa has more than 628 polluted waterways and 800 documented manure spills, according to DNR records.  The DNR has refused to sign a workplan with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to begin inspecting and permitting Iowa’s 8,000 factory farms.

Tama County votes 3-0 to recommend that the DNR deny a construction permit for a giant factory farm owned by Iowa Regent President Bruce Rastetter

 

On June 10, the Tama County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to recommend that the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) deny a giant factory farm proposed by Iowa Board of Regents president Bruce Rastetter’s corporation, Summit Farms, outside of Lincoln, Iowa.  If built, the factory farm would house 4,400 hogs and produce 1.1 million gallons of manure annually.

Neighborhood opposition to the site was led by local members of Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (Iowa CCI), a statewide citizen action group that uses community organizing as a strategy to build grassroots power and win public policy that puts communities before corporations and people before profits, politics, and polluters.

The DNR now has 30 days to approve or reject the county’s recommendation.  If the DNR rejects the county’s position, Tama county may appeal the decision to the Environmental Protection Commission (EPC).  Bruce Rastetter’s brother, Brent Rastetter, serves on the EPC and owns a construction firm that was contracted to build this facility.

Over 100 of the 162 local residents of Lincoln have signed a petition opposing Rastetter’s proposal.

“Today Tama county stood on the side of people from my neighborhood and said no to factory farm pollution destroying our air, water, and quality of life,” said Dave McGowan, a CCI member from Gladbrook, one of the closest residents to the proposed factory farm.  “We call on DNR Director Chuck Gipp to put people first and deny the permit for this site.”

A Summit Farms representative testified during a county supervisors meeting that the hogs for the proposed factory farm would be owned by Smithfield, a giant meatpacker that has made international news in recent days after a Chinese corporation offered to buy the company.

Join the Fight!

2013 is shaping up to be another record-breaking year in the fightback against factory farming. Already, we’ve seen the corporate ag industry push bad bills at the statehouse, setting our state up for another influx of corporate hog manure. We need your help in fighting back, and here are four easy ways you can join the fight:

BREAKING: Following community pressure, a factory farmer near State Center has withdrawn his application to build a new 4,800-head, Cargill-backed site.

Two weeks ago, Story County residents received notification that the county had received an application to build a factory farm near State Center. Members of the community, already boxed in by several other factory farms, met with CCI staff to plan how to fight back. After a planning meeting, they met with Kevin Whitaker, the developer, to tell him the community didn’t wanted the corporate hog factory. They stood strong, citing health and environmental concerns — and their efforts paid off! Today, the day before a public hearing on the plan, Whitaker pulled his application.

This victory is the first that CCI has been involved in this summer, but this year is already shaping up to be another record-breaking building season for factory farms. Thanks to corporate ag control of the legislative process, the groundwork has been laid for yet another wave of corporate hog manure to hit our state.

But there is hope — today’s victory in State Center shows  the power of community pressure. The neighbor notice resolution that alerted community members was also the result of CCI members’ hard work — the county supervisors instituted it following the Hickory Grove fight last summer. All over the state, CCI members are leading their communities in standing up to the corporate model of agriculture that’s destroying our air, water, and quality of life.

Has there been a proposal to build a factory farm near you? Call CCI at 515-282-0484 today to find out how you can fight back.

 

 

Join the Fight!

2013 is shaping up to be another record-breaking year in the fightback against factory farming. Already, we’ve seen the corporate ag industry push bad bills at the statehouse, setting our state up for another influx of corporate hog manure. We need your help in fighting back, and here are four easy ways you can join the fight:

Local-area residents demand Tama County Supervisors Deny Construction Permit For Giant Factory Farm Owned by Iowa Regent Bruce Rastetter

Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (Iowa CCI) members from Lincoln Township in Tama County testified at a county meeting Tuesday morning and demanded the Tama County Supervisors deny a construction permit for a factory farm proposed by Summit Farms of Alden, Iowa, a multinational corporation owned by Iowa Board of Regents President Pro-Tem Bruce Rastetter.  The proposed factory farm could house 4,400 hogs and produce more than 1.1 million gallons of toxic manure every year.

Iowa CCI members say the proposed site does not meet basic statewide requirements under the “Master Matrix” scoring system and that the Tama County supervisors are legally obligated to recommend the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) deny the permit.

“We don’t want this factory farm in our community. It’s an environmental hazard, it will destroy our quality of life and the smell will make us prisoners in our own homes,” said Dave McGowan, an Iowa CCI member from Gladbrook and a 3rd generation family farmer on a century farm that is just over a mile from the proposed factory farm.

“Summit Farms and Steve Anderson are making money off of destroying our lives.”

Steve Anderson of Beaman, Iowa currently owns the land that will house the factory farm and the deal is pending on whether or not the application is approved. “We want Bruce Rastetter and Steve Anderson to do the right thing for our community, cancel the sale, and put an end to this. It is tearing apart our community,” said McGowan.

Matt Gebel recently purchased a historic home just West of the proposed site and is concerned that the factory farm will lower the property value of his home and the water quality of the well his family uses for drinking water.

“I moved here to raise my two boys in a nice community and now I’m worried that our drinking water will not be safe to drink. The County Supervisors need to vote no on this factory farm.”

Tama County Supervisors will be voting on the proposed factory farm on Monday, June 3. Neighbors of the proposed site plan on being there to reiterate their opposition and demand the Supervisors vote no.

Governor Branstad appointed Bob Sinclair and Gene Ver Steeg, both with deep roots in corporate ag,  to the Iowa Environmental Protection Commission (EPC). There is still one open spot on the EPC that has not been filled.

The EPC is the citizen oversight board of the Iowa Department of National Resources (DNR) and is charged with overseeing DNR decisions, rulemaking and factory farm applications, permits and violations.

Gene Ver Steeg raises about 20,000 corporate hogs per year on 4 factory farms in Northwest Iowa, is the former president of the Iowa Pork Producers Association (IPPA) and former EPC member from 2008-2011.  He is quoted by the Wall Street Journal saying that implementing the Clean Water Act in Iowa is a waste of money. 

Bob Sinclair is a former employee of Cargill and currently owns a tractor dealership outside of Sigourney, Iowa. 

The EPC now consists of 8 members with the following ties to the factory farm industry:

  •  Bob Sinclair – Former president of the Iowa Pork Producers Association and factory farmer
  • Gene Ver Steeg – Former Cargill employee
  • Brent Rastetter – Owner of Quality Ag, factory farm construction
  • Mary Boote – Former agriculture advisor to Governor Branstad
  • Nancy Couser – Owner of Couser Cattle Company
  • Cindy Greiman – Factory farm owner, sales associate for Monsanto & member of the Iowa Beef Board
  • Max Smith – Board Member and President of Agribusiness Association of Iowa & General Manager of Smith Fertilizer and Grain
  • Joanne Stockdale – Owner and President of Northern Iowa Die Casting
CCI members regularly attend EPC meetings for clean water issues like the ABI rule and the ban on manure application on soybeans.  This summer we will be engaging the EPC again when the DNR begins the rulemaking stage of the Federal Clean Water Act.
This is why we know that elections are important.

 

We need elected and appointed officials that work for the people, not corporations.  As we gear up for the summer of clean water we will continue to hold Govorner Branstad and the Iowa EPC accountable to work for The People, not their personal business interests. 

At the annual CCI convention there will be an in depth workshop on our work with the Environmental Protection Agency, the DNR and the Clean Water Act.  Join us on Saturday, July 13th to learn more about how we hold polluters, elected and appointed officials accountable.

Wishing the happiest of birthdays to Willie Nelson – legendary musician, family farm activist, and friend of CCI

Alice Ginter, deceased mother of CCI Action board member Larry Ginter, was a small farmer near Marshalltown, Iowa. Troubled by the destruction of family farms in Iowa at the hands of factory farms, Alice was motivated to do something about it:

“Family farms are finding it hard to survive. They used to keep the little towns going… now the little towns are dying.”

In 1997, Ginter expressed her concerns to Willie Nelson – a legendary musician and activist who utilizes his fame to publicize the plight of family farmers. Ginter explained the problems associated with the recent surge in factory farms – she spoke of a neighbor who was unable to play outdoors because the smell from a factory farm next door makes him sick, and she told Willie about Iowans that are unable to sell their land due to odors from a nearby factory farm.

Alice Ginter’s concerns sprung from not only the experiences within her community – but from a nationwide controversy within the hog industry.

Ginter, like all pork farmers, payed a small amount of each hog sale to the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) – called checkoff funds. These checkoff funds were meant be used for hog-related research grants, promotional material, and other mutually-beneficial expenditures.

Alice and other activists began to see the checkoff funds being used in ways that were not mutually beneficial to all hog farmers – in fact, Alice saw that the funds were being used to further one type of hog farming – corporate factory farms.

In early 1997, it was leaked that checkoff funds had been used to spy on family farm organizations that could “have an effect on the [factory farm] pork industry”. A high-powered DC consulting firm was hired by the National Pork Producers Council to spy on organizations in opposition to factory farms – CCI was one of those organizations. The PR firm monitored various activist organizations that were pro-family farm.

Following the controversy, Alice Ginter sent her letter of concern to Willie Nelson.

On March 20th, 1997, CCI and other member groups of the Campaign for Family Farms and the Environment hosted an event to challenge the National Pork Producers Council for its support of factory farms and the use of checkoff money to spy on organizations that fought factory farms and the monopolization of the hog industry. After receiving 85-year-old Alice Ginter’s letter of concern, Willie confirmed he’d be at the event.

The event was powerful – Willie Nelson told the crowd “Factory farms are wrong, and they’re bad!” Willie joined CCI members and hundreds of protesters outside the National Pork Producers Council headquarters for a rally and concert demanding that the NPPC stop using pork checkoff money to spy on groups that fight factory farms. Willie was

On the heels of Willie Nelson’s powerful protest, the National Pork Producers Council reimbursed $51,300 in farmer checkoff fees that were used to spy on CCI and other groups working to defend family farmers.

16 years later, Willie Nelson continues to be a leader in the family farm movement.

Happy birthday, Willie – your friends at CCI appreciate all that you do.