Center Point, Iowa –
CCI members spent the morning of June 17th preparing to weigh in at a public hearing demanding the Linn County supervisors block a factory farm near Center Point, IA.
Later that morning, over thirty community members packed the hearing express opposition to the plan. Citing threats to air and water quality, quality of life, and the local tax base, the residents of rural Linn County asked supervisors to once again oppose the plans of Matt Ditch and huge out-of-state corporation Maschhoff Pork to bring thousands of hogs and millions of gallons of feces into their community. June 17th’s public hearing comes one day before the supervisors make a decision on how to handle the application.
Last fall, the Linn County supervisors denied Ditch’s plans to build a similar hog factory, but the developer and his corporate backers submitted another application last month, claiming that a loophole meant they did not have to submit the public oversight document known as the Master Matrix.
Ditch and Maschhoff claim that they are merely expanding an existing confinement. State law allows an existing confinement to expand beyond normal thresholds without a Master Matrix if the original facility was built before 2003. However, the 300-head operation Ditch claims he is expanding has operated as an open feedlot, with access to the outdoors and an unfinished roof, since 1996. In addition, the original site is not owned by Matt Ditch, but by his father, Ken.
The new proposal will house up to 4,180 hogs, nearly double the normal threshold requiring a matrix score.
“Maschhoff attorneys are trying everything they can to sidestep the voice of the people of Linn County,” said Regina Behmlander, an Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (Iowa CCI) member who lives near the proposed factory farm, at the hearing. “They lost fair and square last year, they should have just given up these plans then.”
Supervisor Linda Langston echoed the concerns of the neighbors of the site. Speaking on the possibility that the manure would not be knifed into the ground properly, she pointed out that “sometimes fields are hard and cold and no one is looking,” meaning that untreated manure could run directly into local streams.
The Supervisors will meet again tomorrow at 9am at the Jean Oxley Public Service Center, 935 Second Street SW, Cedar Rapids, to issue a final decision on how to handle the Ditch application.
Guthrie and Tama counties both recommended the DNR deny similar factory farm construction last week after local Iowa CCI members mobilized community opposition to the proposals.
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.
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: