February 20, 2017

Today, members of Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (CCI) spoke at the Des Moines City Council meeting to oppose HF 316, a bill introduced last week that would dismantle the Des Moines Water Works (DMWW) board of directors and distribute the utility’s assets and power to surrounding cities – which would kill the DMWW lawsuit. Members blasted council members for supporting the bill behind closed doors without constituents’ knowledge.

“I feel betrayed. The city council shut us out of the process. Clearly, they didn’t want us to know that they’re caving to Big Ag,” said Barb Lang, a CCI member from Des Moines. “It seems to me that Councilperson Hensley is bending over backwards for corporate ag and putting her political aspirations ahead of the people of Des Moines. Whose side is she on?”

At the meeting, members demanded that each councilor publicly reveal if they support or oppose HF 316. They called on the council to immediately withdraw their support of the bill.

Des Moines Water Works is an independently operated public utility. If passed, the bill would transfer voting power and $250 million in assets away from the City of Des Moines to surrounding suburban customers. HF 316 was introduced in the House Agriculture Committee by Representative Jarad Klein – a republican from Keota who has taken over $20,000 from corporate ag interest groups in recent years.

“This is nothing short of a power grab by the Farm Bureau and corporate ag,” said Jeanne Schwendinger, a CCI member from Ankeny. “This is an attempt to silence Bill Stowe and the board and stop any meaningful change to clean water regulations, plain and simple. Any other explanation is just putting lipstick on a pig.”

“Once again, we’re seeing the Republican legislature trying to take away local control,” said Larry Ginter, a CCI member from Rhodes. “What right do they have to taking away anyone’s right to clean water?”

The DMWW lawsuit is currently scheduled for mid-June this year in Sioux City. The outcome will determine whether or not drainage districts should be considered point sources under the Clean Water Act. In 2015, DMWW ran its nitrate removal facility for a record-breaking 177 days, costing millions of dollars.



ADD YOUR NAME – to show strong opposition to this bad move

RSVP NOW for Thursday 2/23 – an emergency community meeting with Bill Stowe and DMWW Board President Graham Gillette. 

What: Emergency CCI Clean Water organizing meeting with Bill Stowe and DMWW President Graham Gillette
When: Thursday, February 23 from 6:30 – 8:00 pm
Where: Iowa CCI Headquarters, 2001 Forest Ave, Des Moines

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.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

This morning, two boards of supervisors in north central Iowa voted to recommend denial of two huge factory farm applications.

In Mitchell County, supervisors voted 2-1 to deny an application for a 5,000-head Iowa Select contracted factory farm in Lincoln Township. In Cerro Gordo County, supervisors voted unanimously to deny an application of an existing factory farm in Union Township to expand from 1,864 total head to 9,154 total head. After community input and review, both boards deducted points from the Master Matrix and gave the applicants a failing grade.

“I’m happy with the decision my supervisors made today,” said Penney Morse, a resident of Mitchell County and a CCI member. “We need more leaders standing up to this industry that destroys our water, our air, and our quality of life.”

These factory farm denials add to a growing list of supervisors across Iowa who are taking a stand against factory farms in their communities. In recent months, Webster County and Pocahontas County wrote letters to legislators and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources calling for a moratorium on new and expanding factory farms. Cerro Gordo County also passed a resolution in January to send notification to neighbors within a one-mile radius of proposed factory farms.

“The Master Matrix is a flawed system. Where else can you score fifty percent and get a passing grade?” said Tom Willett of Mason City and a CCI member who also attended the meeting. “It doesn’t provide adequate protections for community members or the environment. What we really need is true local control so that the supervisors and the public get to decide what developments go into their community.”

Following the approval of the Prestage Farms mega-slaughterhouse in Wright County, north central Iowa has seen an influx of factory farm applications. The Globe Gazette reported in October 2016 that factory farm applications to the DNR field office in Mason City could triple by the end of 2016. This influx of applications is expected to continue growing, in spite of overwhelming community opposition and uncertain hog markets.

“The reason we fought so hard to keep Prestage out of Mason City was because we knew it would mean more factory farm pollution,” said Jan Wann of Mason City and a CCI member. “Now that it’s going to Wright County, we’re going to have to remain vigilant and do everything we can to stop this expansion. We’re need a moratorium on factory farms.”


Join the Fight!

  • Ready to take action? Contact us to learn how to get actively involved in this fight. !Hablamos español!
  • Join as an Iowa CCI member
  • Sign up for our email Action List
  • Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.



Iowa DNR rejected Cerro Gordo Supervisors request to deny a construction permit for a 4,992 head facility proposed by River Edge Farms, LLC.  Cerro Gordo Supervisors are standing strong with the factory farm fighters  and have filed an appeal with the Environmental Protection Commission.  Click here for more details on the appeal.

Over 60 CCI members in attendance push supervisors to recommend DNR denial of 5,000 head factory farm proposal

Des Moines, IA – Members of the grassroots community organizing group Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (Iowa CCI) and other community members celebrated a Cerro Gordo county supervisors’ vote Tuesday (8/16/16) recommending denial of a 5,000 head factory farm. The unanimous vote followed testimony that was overwhelmingly opposed to the proposal.

“Today’s vote sends a strong message to this industry: Factory Farms aren’t welcome in North Central Iowa,” said Iowa CCI member Phyllis Willis of Fertile, IA. “We’ll continue to organize for clean air, clean water family farms, and healthy communities”

The move by Cerro Gordo supervisors follows the Mason City council vote to turn down a massive slaughterhouse by Prestage Fams, the nation’s 5th largest corporate hog producer, as well as at least eight other counties that have taken a stand against factory farm expansion in their county. This includes “No” votes in Allamakee, Cerro Gordo, Floyd, Hardin, Webster, Dickinson, and Greene counties. Johnson County supervisors weighed in strongly against an under-permitted site in recent weeks.

“It’s great to see more county supervisors standing with their voters instead of corporate ag.” said Iowa CCI member and family farmer Larry Ginter from Rhodes, IA. “Factory farms have tried to paint themselves as good neighbors but they just aren’t. They have been destroying our communities’ air, water, and quality of life for the last 20 years.”

The vote in Cerro Gordo County comes just days before members of the statewide people-power organization will be voicing their opposition to a proposed $11 million corporate handout package to Prestage Farms at the Iowa Economic Development Agency (IEDA).

“This is typical of big business: come in and demand millions of dollars in incentives under the guise of creating jobs.” said Iowa CCI board president Cherie Mortice. “But we see through it for what it really is: a race to the bottom. We want our government to work for everyday folks, not big business.”

“All Prestage will really be bringing to Iowa is more factory farms, more pollution, and more costs to taxpayers to clean up their mess. We have too many factory farms already. We need a moratorium now.” added Mortice.

The meeting Thursday is open to the press and to the public. A summary of the proposed award can be found here.

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. Iowa CCI has been fighting to put people first for over 40 years.

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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 and water and your quality of life.

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Tuesday, the Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) released their proposed handout package to Prestage Farms – the 5th largest hog producer in the country, with a pollution record in Iowa and North Carolina.

Here are four key things to know about it: 

  • The IEDA is voting on whether to hand over $11M of taxpayer money to Big Ag – Iowa’s greatest source of water pollution. This giant incentive package –  coupled with Wright County’s local incentive package –  is more than the amount Gov. Branstad’s line-item vetoed for water quality funding in the 2014 legislative session.
  • Residents of Wright County and surrounding areas are on the hook for other externalized costs, such as road maintenance, water quality, property value loss, and diminished quality of life.
  • Of the proposed 900 jobs – nearly two-thirds, or 600 workers, will not make a living wage. These are low-wage, high-injury, non-union jobs. The state is only asking them to guarantee that 322 jobs pay above $15.54.
  • Wells Fargo is financing 100% of Prestage’s project.  Why do taxpayers have skin in the game but Prestage doesn’t?


This is our chance to send the IEDA a strong message that Iowans are fed up with subsidizing Big Ag.

  1. Join us Thursday, August 18 at the IEDA’s meeting when they vote on if they’ll give millions of taxpayer dollars in handouts to Prestage Farms. Click here to let us know you can be there.

WHEN: Thursday, August 18 | Meet at the CCI office at 12:30 for a quick prep session, and then carpool to the IEDA meeting

WHERE: CCI Office | 2001 Forest Ave, Des Moines, IA 50311

2. If you can’t make it, click here to send the IEDA head Debi Durham email.





Like and Tweet if you agree No Public Money, No Prestage!

The Prestage fight isn’t over. Now, they’re targeting Wright County.

Iowans already stopped Prestage once by showing people power in every step of the process. Now, it’s time to stand together and do it again.

Here’s what we know so far:

  • Prestage Farms – the nation’s 5th largest hog producer – wants to build a massive slaughterhouse 5 miles South of Eagle Grove near the corner of Hwy 17 and 320th Street. It would eventually kill up to 20,000 hogs per day.
  • The Wright County Board of Supervisors will hold their first reading on Monday, July 25. There will be 2-3 votes total before final approval.
  • Other possible voting bodies are the Board of Adjustments and the Eagle Grove Water Board (for wastewater hookup).

If this proposal goes through, it means more factory farms, more pollution in our water, more tax payer funds for corporate ag, and diminished quality of life for all Iowans.

Let’s stop this packing plant! Here is how you can help:

A clean water Iowa is more possible if no more factory farms build, and that won’t happen if more corporate packing plants build. Let’s stop this thing!


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Iowans Demand EPA Return To Iowa To Force Factory Farm Compliance With The Clean Water Act



According to DNR records there have been at least five factory farm spills that reached Iowa waterways in the past three weeks:

  • FISH KILL: Osceola & Clay County – factory farm egg washing liquid dumped in Stony Creek polluting 18.2 miles of stream and killing 163,001 fish
  • FISH KILL: Cherokee County – Bear Creek, source unknown
  • FISH KILL: Buchanan County – factory farm manure overflowed from manure pit and entered West Branch Pine Creek
  • Mahaska County – valve on manure tank failed and 3,000 gallons of factory farm manure entered a tributary of the Skunk River
  • FISH KILL: Allamakee County – manure application equipment broke and 1,000 gallons of factory farm manure entered Clark Creek



Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (CCI) members are outraged at the number of manure spills occurring in Iowa each year during what many call “manure spill season.”

“Right now, as crops are being harvested, thousands of factory farms across the state are starting to spread upwards of 10 billion gallons of toxic, untreated manure on Iowa farmland,” said Rosie Partridge, conservationist and small business owner in Wall Lake, Iowa. “We’re seeing equipment breaks, pits overflow, and careless practices like spreading manure on highly erodible land, on steep slopes and near waterways.  At what point is there too much manure in Iowa?  I think we passed that point a long time ago.”

CCI members say the DNR needs to start holding this industry accountable for polluting Iowa’s waterways.

“In 2012 the EPA investigated the DNR and found that the DNR has an inadequate inspection program, fails to respond to spills, and does not issue fines and penalties that deter future pollution,” said Larry Ginter, a retired family farmer from Rhodes, Iowa. “It’s 2015 and nothing has changed. The EPA needs to come back to Iowa and make the DNR implement the Clean Water Act with teeth.”

Like the Des Moines Water Works lawsuit, CCI members want the DNR to implement and enforce the Clean Water Act for factory farms. CCI members believe that Clean Water Act permits, tough fines and penalties and on-site inspections that find and fix problems will drastically reduce the amount of manure polluting Iowa’s waterways each year.

“We’re sick and tired of corporate agriculture being exempt from any laws and regulations meant to protect people and the environment; they should be held to the same standards as every other industry in Iowa,” said Ginter. “Isn’t it obvious that voluntary doesn’t work?”

CCI members will be meeting with the DNR on November 3 to address the lack of enforcement and regulation of Manure Management Plans and application.

Iowa’s more than 20 million hogs confined in thousands of factory farms produce nearly ten billion gallons of toxic manure every year. There have been more than 800 documented manure spills since 1996 and Iowa currently has more than 725 polluted waterways.


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 and water and your quality of life.

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