Don’t Put All Your Eggs In One Basket
How the factory farm model exacerbates the Bird Flu Epidemic

Chicken and turkey factory farms cram thousands, even millions, of birds into one facility.  This model of raising livestock creates the perfect conditions for diseases like the Avian Bird Flu that has spread across Iowa and Minnesota.

  • Birds in factory farms are unhealthy to begin with. Birds in confined unsanitary conditions have decreased immune systems that make it more difficult to fight off disease. This means the disease can spread quickly, infecting every bird in the facility before it’s detected.  Birds on small family farms are less dense and controlling the spread of the disease could be easier.
  • Birds in factory farms are almost genetically identical. This means when one bird becomes infected the entire flock will become infected. Birds on small family farms have varying genetics so some birds may not be affected by the spread of the disease.
  • Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. The factory farm model of raising chickens and turkeys creates a system that could collapse and create an economic crisis as we’re seeing with the recent Avian Bird Flu Epidemic. Small family farms can be quarantined quicker and because they are spread out, could isolate the crisis without taking a big hit to the market.

Before Iowa Governor Branstad throws more taxpayer money and resources in to cleaning up this factory farm created crisis Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, Iowa Department of Natural Resources, United State Department of Agriculture, and other involved agencies need to answer the following questions publically to ensure these factory farms do not cut environmental corners in the cleanup just to get birds back into the building:

  • What is the full emergency plan to fix this crisis?
  • What methods/chemicals/gases will be used to kill all the birds?
  • What will happen to the birds after they are dead?
  • Will the dead birds be spread on the land and if so, what effects will the chemicals used to kill the birds have on soil, water and air? What chemicals are in the fire retardant foam and will this be spread on the land?
  • Will the dead birds be tested for remnants of the virus before being spread on the land?
  • Millions of dead birds will create quite a stink in rural Iowa, what is your plan to ensure neighbors will not lose their quality of life while the birds are decomposing?
  • Are there any reports of natural birds being affected by this flu?
  • If industry and government officials say this was caused by migratory birds, where are the dead migratory birds and how many have you found?
  • Are any of the factory farms receiving their chicks from the same hatchery?
  • What is the expected cost to taxpayers for this clean-up? (This is an industry that is already heavily subsidized by taxpayers.)
  • How will the industry be held accountable for creating the conditions where disease, like the Avian Bird Flu, can spread rampant and crash an entire sector of the economy?
  • How much are factory farm owners receiving per bird in compensation costs? What’s the total payout so far?

How the industry is already heavily taxpayer subsidized:

  • sales tax exemptions on feed; ($219.6 million in 2010 across all factory farms)
  • sales tax exemption on energy used to heat and cool buildings; ($9.1 million in 2010 across all factory farms)
  • sales tax exemption on implements of animal husbandry ($34.4 million in 2010 across all ag)
  • sales tax exemption on domesticated fowl ($8.9 million in 2010)
  • sales tax exemption on lab tests for livestock (including fowl) ($3.5 million in 2010)
  • other sales tax exemptions… (fowl bedding, etc)
  • property tax exemptions allowing them to be taxed at the rate of the ag land they occupy, rather than the taxable “productivity” value of the building.

Do you want a voice when a factory farm tries to build in your neighborhood?

Dickinson County Supervisors have sent a local control survey to County Supervisors in all 99 Iowa counties to ask how many are in favor of local control.

Dickinson County doesn’t want factory farms near the valuable Iowa Great Lakes and believe they should be deciding what’s good for Dickinson County – not the industry friendly DNR.

 Your Supervisors have received this survey – can you help to ensure they put it on their agenda and vote YES for local control!

3 Easy Steps:

  1. Call your County Supervisors/Auditor and make sure the survey is on the agenda for their next meeting.
  2. Lobby your Supervisors and tell them to vote yes (tell your friends, family and neighbors, too!)
  3. Attend the Supervisor meeting and let us know how it goes.

Iowa’s 8,500 factory farms pollute our air, water and quality of life – it’s time we’re allowed to say “No” when they want to build in our neighborhoods.

 

On April 4, Iowa CCI members met with Representative Dave Loebsack’s (IA-2) staff in Iowa City to urge him to join the growing number of co-sponsors to HR 1579 – the Inclusive Prosperity Act.  Our visit was in conjunction with dozens of similar actions across the country aimed at building momentum and support for common sense legislation that would finally begin to make Wall Street pay its fair share.

HR 1579 would impose a small sales tax (much like everyday people pay on daily goods and services) on Wall Street transactions, including high frequency trades, that could bring in hundreds of billions in new revenue a year – revenue that would be invested in creating new economy jobs and strengthening vital public services.

Our message to Rep. Loebsack was simple – this is how reduce inequality in the United States and get our economy back on track to serve everyday people.

Politicians these days talk about where they’re going to find the money to do x, y, z… well, this is a solution” – Iowa CCI member Jeff Strottman

This is about Wall Street finally beginning to pay their fair share – Iowa CCI member Lynn Gallagher

You could defend a vote for this bill in any town in Iowa across political parties – Iowa CCI member Jim Walters

Join us in encouraging Rep. Loebsack and others in Congress to take a meaningful step in making Wall Street pay its fair share through bringing forward the Inclusive Prosperity Act by clicking here.  And stay tuned for more on what you can do this spring and summer to push our elected officials to champion policies that Put People First!

 

Join the Fight!

 

One of the tools that communities have in the fight against unwanted factory farms is the master matrix, a scoring system for proposed sites that the builder must pass. The master matrix is a flawed tool, but it provides communities a minimal level of protection against factory farms being built in their communities.

However, each county Board of Supervisors must pass the master matrix each year before January 31st. So far, 84 counties have passed the master matrix. Below, you can find all these counties shaded in yellow (click the image to make it larger).

Matrix Resolution web 1.27.14
 3 simple steps to passing the Master Matrix in your county:

 1) Call your County Supervisors and ask them to put it on the next Supervisor meeting agenda if they        haven’t already;

2) If they have passed the Master Matrix already, make sure they sent a copy to the DNR – they have to do  this before January 31st or it doesn’t count; and

3) Call CCI at 515-282-0484 and let us know so we can keep track and make sure every county passes the  Master Matrix!

 

These counties still need to pass the Master Matrix for 2014:

Crawford
Decatur
Des Moines
Iowa
Jackson
Keokuk
Lee
Mahaska
Mills
Osceola
Plymouth
Pocahontas
Wapello
Warren
Washington

If you live in any of the counties listed above and you care about protecting your air, water, and quality of life, call CCI at (515) 282-0484 to find out how you can get your supervisors to pass the matrix today.

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, clean water, and your quality of life.

 Click LIKE or TWEET to spread the word about this time-sensitive issue!

Payday lending fees cost everyday Americans $3.4 billion every year, including $37 million in Iowa

 

Iowa CCI members call on Iowa legislators to take action by passing interest rates caps

 

The Center for Responsible Lending just released a scathing report about payday lenders and the predatory nature of their high fees and interest rates in the United States, and found that payday lending fees – above and beyond the original loan amount – cost everyday, hardworking Americans $3.4 billion every year. http://www.responsiblelending.org/state-of-lending/reports/10-Payday-Loans.pdf

In Iowa alone, individuals paid over $37 million in fees in 2012. According to the report, there are 218 payday loan operations in Iowa. Each one averages 3, 904 transactions every year.

Iowa is one of 29 states without meaningful regulation, despite popular public support of regulation of payday lenders. Payday lenders trap people in a cycle of debt, near impossible to escape. 90 percent of payday borrowers go to individuals with 5+ loans per year. Fees and penalties add up to an annual interest rate near 400 percent.

Lacking legislation at the Iowa Statehouse, cities have taken action under the leadership of local Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (Iowa CCI) members. Seven cities – Des Moines, West Des Moines, Clive, Ames, Iowa City, Cedar Rapids and Windsor Heights – have already passed local ordinances that restrict where payday lenders can locate. Since the first ordinance was enacted, we have seen an almost 20% drop in payday loan shops in Iowa.

The Center for Responsible Lending states the strongest approach to regulating payday lenders is setting maximum APRs to eliminate the debt trap, generally 36 percent. For years, Iowa CCI members have pushed Iowa legislators for legislation to cap interest rates at 36 percent but legislators in both parties have failed to act.

“I have young family members who have taken out these loans and have gotten trapped in a cycle of debt,” said Robin Ghormley, an Iowa CCI member from Des Moines.  “It is outrageous that all of this money is going to out of state corporations and I think it’s past time that Governor Branstad and the Iowa legislature crack down on predatory payday lending by passing strong interest rate cap legislation during the 2014 session.”

Join the fight!

  • Join as an Iowa CCI member today or chip in $10 to support our organizing on this issue.
  • Sign up for our E-Mail Action list to get the latest updates
  • Follow us on Facebook and Twitter

Iowa CCI is an affiliate of the NPA network. Following President Obama’s ‘grand bargain’ announcement, NPA released the following statement:

President Obama’s just announced economic ‘grand bargain’ proposal is a disaster for low-income and middle class Americans. It’s clear from years of a tax system that’s rigged in favor of corporations that the last thing we need is to allow corporations to pay less. They’re already contributing less now than they have in 100 years.

Millions of Americans are drowning from years of dramatic cuts that have resulted in fewer jobs, less services, and dangerous crumbling infrastructure. This is no time for more corporate tax giveaways. While we applaud the President’s acknowledgement that we are facing a jobs emergency, we’ll need much more than the few specific measures offered to truly address the future of work in this country, and rebuild our nation. We at National People’s Action call on the President to fight for tax reform that calls for  corporations to pay their fair share.

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National People’s Action (NPA) is a network of grassroots organizations with a fierce reputation for direct action from across the country that work to advance a national economic and racial justice agenda. NPA has over 200 organizers working to unite everyday people in cities, towns, and rural communities throughout the United States through direct-action, house meetings and community organizing.