It’s Master Matrix time again! Seventy-three counties have passed the Master Matrix Resolution so far — which they must do every year by January 31 in order to recommend denial of factory farms.

Has your county taken this important step in the Clean Water Fight?

Figure 1: counties that have passed the Master Matrix Resolution and sent it in to the DNR as of January 22, 2018.

 

The Master Matrix is one of the few ways counties and citizens can weigh in on factory farm construction in their communities. We know it’s far from perfect. In fact, this year, Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement and our allies at Food & Water Watch filed a legal petition to finally strengthen this 15-year-old scoring system. The Department of Natural Resources passed the buck.

But here’s the thing: the Master Matrix is all we have right now. Until we get a moratorium and local control, let’s use every tool in our toolbox to fight factory farms.

Here are 3 simple steps to passing the Master Matrix in your county

  1. Call your county supervisors and ask them to put it on their next agenda if they haven’t already.
  2. Make sure they sent a copy to the DNR. They have to do this before January 31st or it doesn’t count.
    • County boards of supervisors may approve the resolutions at any time, but must submit resolutions between January 1 and 31, 2018.
    • Send resolutions to Kelli Book at DNR, 502 E. Ninth St., Des Moines, IA 50319, email to Kelli.Book@dnr.iowa.gov or fax to 515-725-8201.
  3. Let us know how your conversations go!
    • We’re tracking this county-by-county and will send periodic updates. Let us know when your county has passed the Master Matrix!

Click here to read more about our 2017 campaign to strengthen the Master Matrix.  

Join the Clean Water 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.

January 4, 2017

At the tail end of 2017, CCI members in Hardin County successfully pressured their county supervisors to vote 2-1 to deny an Iowa Select hog factory expansion! This happened because the community showed up, spoke out and got organized.

Here’s what Iowa Select did next: They published full-page ads in multiple Hardin County newspapers in attempts to win over the community  even going so far as to say “Manure can actually improve our water quality.”

You know what? We call that a victory, too. We’ve forced the 5th largest hog producer in the country to go on defense. That means we’re making strides in the court of public opinion.

But, we’re not out of the woods yet: the application is headed to the Department of Natural Resources, who will make the ultimate decision on whether or not Iowa Select can expand its factory farm. This means we’ll likely need to go back to the supervisors and ask them to appeal the DNR’s approval of the factory farm.

Here are the next steps to stop this Iowa Select factory farm:

  • Attend the Supervisor hearing in Eldora (courthouse) on Wednesday, January 10 @ 10am
    • Let’s keep encouraging the supervisors to do the right thing!
  • Call the Hardin County Supervisors and ask them to appeal if DNR approves this factory farm
    • 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.

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.

 

December 1, 2017

On Wednesday before, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) held a public hearing for a stormwater construction permit for a massive Walz Energy 10,000-head cattle factory farm near Monona. The meeting standing-room-only and was packed with people objecting to the factory farm.

Under state law, the factory farm was required to obtain a stormwater permit before beginning construction – however, construction has been underway since April. Despite the facility already having one illegal discharge that washed sediment into Bloody Run Creek – a naturally producing trout stream on the “Outstanding Iowa Waters” list – DNR failed to require a permit for Walz Energy. Due to local opposition and community demand, DNR finally held a public hearing to retroactively grant the stormwater construction permit.

“We’re surprised and very concerned that one part of DNR would allow a facility of this size and type to be constructed next to one of the best trout streams in Iowa, while another part of DNR has invested millions of dollars into improving this stream,” said Steve Veysey, angler and Hawkeye Fly Fishing Association member. “We have a geologist report showing that there is porous limestone right beneath the site, and sinkholes all around it. The more I look into it, the more it doesn’t seem to be totally on the up and up!”

Walz Energy is also claiming that this massive factory farm is a “renewable energy solution” because they plan to capture the methane emissions from the manure. However, CCI and the national organization Food & Water Watch call this a false energy solution because it promotes factory farm practices and even more pollution.

“Building a massive factory farm to feed a methane digester is the farthest thing from clean energy. What’s worse, digested manure is even more prone to contaminate surface and groundwater when applied to fields than undigested manure, heightening the risks to this already vulnerable part of the state,” said Tarah Heinzen, staff attorney with Food & Water Watch.

In addition to giving Walz Energy a pass on the stormwater construction permit, the DNR is also allowing the operator to use a clay liner for the 39-million gallon manure lagoon, rather than a “formed” material, like concrete, which is required on sensitive karst topography to add more groundwater protections.

“The fact that Walz Energy isn’t building the lagoon with concrete shows a lack of concern for our drinking water. It shows the DNR’s lack of political will to stand up to this polluting industry,” said Andrea Bie Carstens, independent family farmer and CCI member from Waterville.

Because the Walz Energy factory farm threatens local businesses that use Bloody Run Creek, tourism in the area, the safety and health of nearby residents, and drinking water, Iowa CCI members are calling on DNR to uphold the agency’s mission and purpose by denying this factory farm permit.

“We’re astounded that a facility of this size could be built with no public review. We’re talking about water quality, air quality, and quality of life. What’s going to happen to the independent family farmers that will be impacted by this mega-facility? This whole process has been so under the radar that it raises too many red flags. We want DNR to deny the permit — otherwise the driftless area is at risk for future generations,” said Roger Bollman, CCI member and retired Natural Resource Manager with the Army Corps from Monona.

 

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.

They dump it. You drink it. We won’t stop ’til they clean it up!

That’s why we’re going to the next Environmental Protection Commission (EPC) meeting October 17. Can you join us?

Last month, the EPC — the DNR’s oversight panel — failed Iowans.

Instead of making common sense revisions to factory farm rules, they passed the buck to the legislature. Instead of using their authority, they shirked their responsibility to provide meangingful protections from Iowa’s out-of-control factory farm industry.

While the EPC ignored thousands of Iowans on our call to strengthen the Master Matrix — a tool used in the factory farm application process — they did agree to do one thing:

The commission does acknowledge that the current master matrix has been the subject of recent public attention and intends to review the current criteria with stakeholders to determine if any changes are needed.

That’s not enough, but we’re going to hold them to it.

We want to know: When will the commissioners review the Master Matrix? Which stakeholders will they meet with? By what time will they do this?

That’s why we’ll be at the next EPC meeting — to put their feet to the fire to ensure they actually follow through with their promises. Can you join us?

What: Environmental Protection Commission Meeting
When: Tuesday, October 17 at 9:30 AM
Where: Terrace Hills Golf Course, 8700 NE 46th Ave, Altoona, IA (map)
>>>>Meet in the pavilion next to the clubhouse, and wear your winter jacket!<<<<
Register: Click here to let us know you’re attending.

We can’t back down, and we won’t back down. Our water, air, land, and our health are too important.

See you on Tuesday!

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.

 

Did you see the Des Moines Register’s recent scathing editorial?

They agree that we must tap the brakes on factory farms:

“If lawmakers can’t provide more local control, then they should pass a moratorium on new confinements.”

TAKE ACTION: Tell Gov. Reynolds and legislative leadership
NO MORE factory farms!

Why? Because it’s clear that the industry is out of control. Consider just the latest evidence:

  • DNR passed the buck on meaningful changes to factory farm rules that thousands of people wanted,
  • More than 5,000 additional factory farms were just discovered in a statewide survey,
  • A state worker was fired for educating counties about their rights to object to factory farms,
  • DNR has proposed weakening rules for testing E. coli which puts thousands of Iowans at risk,
  • and more — all at the expense of everyday Iowans.

Our Clean Water Fight is gaining speed – there’s no doubt about it. We’re not mentioned by name, but this editorial lifts up work we’ve done together to reign in the factory farm industry and demand action for clean water.

Let’s keep the momentum going! The legislative session is just around the corner. 

TAKE ACTION: Take three minutes to email Gov. Reynolds and House & Senate Leadership today.
Do they stand with us or the factory farm industry?

It’s up to us – everyday Iowans like you and me – to keep the pressure on state leaders and polluters to make them clean it up! And, we need to say NO MORE factory farms.

THEY dump it, YOU drink it; we won’t’ stop ’til they clean it up!

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.

Iowa CCI members, residents in Clay and Wayne counties celebrate and demand moratorium on new factories
Des Moines, Iowa – On Monday, Iowa CCI members and everyday Iowans celebrated as Iowa Select — the largest hog corporation in Iowa and 8th largest nationally — withdrew permit applications for two massive hog factories in Wayne and Clay counties. Both applications, which were overwhelmingly opposed by local residents and county supervisors, were likely to be appealed at the October meeting of the Environmental Protection Commission (EPC).

Locally organized opposition

Residents of Wayne County organized opposition, including a meeting with DNR director Chuck Gipp where over 100 neighbors demanded DNR deny the site, wrote letters to the editor, and successfully convinced their county supervisors to fail the Master Matrix and recommend denial to the DNR.  The DNR overturned the Wayne County Supervisors’ decision.  Wayne County appealed DNR’s approval of the factory farm, and a public hearing before the EPC was scheduled in October.

“We’re celebrating this big victory, but we know that Iowa Select will try to reapply.  We are relentless, and we’ll be ready.  We don’t want any factory farms and we will fight any that Iowa Select proposes to build,” said Pam Woollis, CCI member and resident of Wayne County.

In Clay County, local residents also organized, gathered petition signatures, and convinced their supervisors to recommend denial of the site, which again was overturned by the DNR.  Clay County’s Board of Supervisors was set to vote on appealing DNR’s approval of the factory farm at its meeting today.

“We are overjoyed at Iowa Select’s decision to not build their large hog factory beside our family. However, more importantly, the health of other farm familes and small towns is endangered by Iowa’s lack of regulations to protect the public health and our air and water,” said Sarah Lewis, who fought the 5,000-head factory farm near Spencer, Iowa. “We encourage our Supervisors to make Clay County the 18th Iowa county to call for a moratorium or changes to the Master Matrix until adequate regulations are implemented to protect our environment and familes.”

Iowa Select avoids scrutiny

“In its written notice to the Department of Natural Resources, Iowa Select cited several reasons for withdrawing, but we believe it’s because they are feeling public pressure and know that these appeals would further illustrate the failings of the Master Matrix,” said Erica Blair, community organizer with Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (Iowa CCI).

According to DNR’s construction review activity database, Iowa Select has seven pending facilities across the state in Grundy, Hancock, Hardin, Humboldt, Buena Vista, and Greene counties.  CCI has received calls from residents of several of these counties asking how they can fight the incoming factory farms.

Iowa Select has a long violation history, including at least 150 manure or ammonia releases polluting air and water, according to DNR’s facility spill database.

“Iowa Select creates new LLCs, allowing the company to avoid scrutiny of past violations, making it difficult to know the true number of spills and violations,” said Patti Naylor, a CCI member and family farmer who lives in Greene County, where supervisors just approved a 7,490-head Iowa Select factory farm.  “They’ve become experts at using the Master Matrix to their own advantage.”

This news comes as many scandals are coming to the surface for DNR.  CCI members point to the EPC and DNR’s dismissal of the Master Matrix petition, former DNR employee Gene Tinker’s claim that he was fired for educating counties about the Master Matrix, and DNR’s discovery of over 5,000 additional factory farms in Iowa.

“It’s clear that we need a moratorium from this polluting industry. Our DNR, legislature, and Governor need to work for all of Iowans,” added Naylor.

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.