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?

TAKE ACTION

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.

 

JOIN THE FIGHT

 

 

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!

 

Join the Fight

Interested in helping stop the proposed Bakken Pipeline?

 

IOWA’S “MANURE SPILL SEASON”

IN FULL FORCE

 

 

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.

Learn more

 

 

DNR/EPA CLEAN WATER ACT WORKPLAN AGREEMENT FAILS TO PREVENT MANURE SPILLS

2 Years Since Historic Clean Water Act Agreement And Still No Permits For Hog Factory Farms

 

Des Moines, IA.  In early August Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) submitted its 2-year progress report of the precedent-setting Work Plan Agreement between the DNR and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to implement the Clean Water Act (CWA) for factory farms in Iowa. Iowa CCI is calling out the DNR for the lack of detail in the report about the outcome of DNR inspections and why no Clean Water Act permits have been issued.

Click here to view DNR’s 2015 Clean Water Act Annual Progress Report.

“This is an absolute disgrace.  We’ve been saying for 8 years that the DNR is failing to do its job to hold factory farms accountable for their pollution and sadly we’re proven right,” said Larry Ginter, CCI member and family farmer from Rhodes, Iowa.  “We’ve already had at least 17 manure spills this year.  If DNR was completing good inspections, you’d think the number of manure spills would go down significantly each year, but it doesn’t.”

The DNR agreed to assess twenty percent of Iowa’s 8,500+ factory farm facilities each year to determine which operations need permits.  The 2-year progress report states they have completed 41% over the past two years.

The DNR touts the number of inspections as a success but CCI members think otherwise.

“It’s not just about the quantity of inspections – it’s about the quality of inspections,”  said Ginter.  “Who cares how many you’ve completed if they don’t result in anything but more pollution?”

The Work Plan also required the DNR to “timely issue [Clean Water Act] permits that meet federal requirements to all CAFOs that DNR determines discharge to Waters of the U.S.”

According to DNR records, since the Work Plan was signed on September 11, 2013 there have been at least 99 documented manure spills in Iowa yet the DNR failed to issue a single Clean Water Act permit to any of the polluting hog factory farms.

Barb Lynch, DNR Chief of Field Services and Compliance was quoted saying ‘Since the majority of larger facilities in Iowa are confinements, with animals housed under a roof and state law requiring manure containment, most facilities we inspect do not have problems with manure runoff’.

However, water data collected from Iowa’s 2014 list of impaired waterways shows manure as one of the leading cause of impaired waterways in Iowa lakes and rivers.  CCI members say this and the fact the DNR has issued no CWA permits shows how the DNR continues to work for factory farm corporations by misleading the public about the cause of Iowa’s polluted waterways and not holding them accountable for the pollution they create.

Also, CWA permits aren’t just targeted at runoff problems, they are for any kind of pollution discharge leaving a facility.

“We see dozens of cases of factory farms with multiple manure spills,” said Barb Kalbach, 4th generation family farmer from Dexter.  “Any factory farm that has a discharge needs a CWA permit and needs to be held accountable, not just a slap on the wrist.”

Another demand of the DNR to meet the Clean Water Act Work Plan is “to implement enforcement program that ensures penalties are sought in accordance with DNR’s [Enforcement Management System] and creates a stronger deterrent to noncompliance”.

In the past 2 years, DNR has only issued 23 Administrative Orders and 1 Attorney General referral against factory farm polluters with manure spills or other violations.  That means out of the 99 polluters, 75 of them received no meaningful penalty for their manure spill.  CCI members believe that the lack of penalties sends a message to the industry that manure spills are just a cost of doing business.

DNR is also failing to meet the final Work Plan requirement, which is to keep the public informed of its Work Plan progress.  So far the Work Plan progress updates have been vague and contain very little real information. The annual report lacks detail about the outcome of inspections and why no Clean Water Act permits have been issued to a hog factory farm.

“The 2-year report lacks detail,” said Kalbach. “DNR provided no detail on the outcome of assessments and how they determined that a factory farm does not need a CWA permit. The DNR needs to take a presumption that every factory farm has a potential to discharge and therefore every factory farm has the duty to apply for a permit.”

“This Work Plan will only be successful if it leads to real oversight of factory farm pollution in Iowa. That means serious inspections, strong permits, and enforcement actions that ensure it doesn’t pay to pollute. DNR hasn’t shown that it takes permitting seriously, and EPA should step in and conduct independent investigations of Iowa manure spills,” said Jess Mazour, Farm & Environment Organizer at Iowa CCI.

CCI members are calling on the DNR to strengthen the Clean Water Act implementation with four demands:

  1. Issue a Clean Water Act Permit to every factory farm in Iowa.
  2. Complete quality on-site inspections that find problems and fix problems.
  3. Issue tough fines and penalties that deter future pollution.
  4. Create a transparent database of manure spills, inspections and details of specific factory farms.

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.

 

Des Moines, IA.  Boone Water Works is in violation of the Safe Drinking Water Act due to high Nitrate levels in drinking water sources.  Iowa CCI members, who are ratepayers of Boone and Xenia Water, say that Iowa Department of Natural Resources, Iowa Department of Ag and Land Stewardship, and Governor Branstad aren’t doing enough to protect Iowans from harmful nitrate pollution coming from factory farm manure and ag fertilizer.

“We have been on Xenia Rural Water since 1997.  We signed on as soon as it became available to us because our well water was not good.  And now because our Governor has refused to address this huge elephant in the room, water systems across Iowa are at risk. This is the first time Xenia has had a high-nitrate alert, but with the current state of affairs I see that it won’t be the last”, said Brenda Brink, Xenia ratepayer and resident of Huxley, Iowa.

“I am so angry that we as citizens cannot depend on our elected officials to ensure safe drinking water.  Apparently, our Governor thinks that Avian flu is worth his attention while the people of this state cannot drink the water, cannot fish in its rivers and streams and cannot allow their children to enjoy natural parks and creeks, for fear of ag-related nitrate run-off.  Instead of putting up signs warning us not to use water, we need the Department of Natural Resources to go after the polluters.  We shouldn’t be paying for their abuse of our water,” said Brink.

“As the water pollution problems continue to increase and move upstream more of us are being poisoned with toxic drinking water.  The Boone County water system cannot handle the ever increasing nitrate levels as the Des Moines, multimillion dollar system is attempting to do.  Our city and county cannot afford to build a new system and so our welfare is being sacrificed to support corporate ag profits.  This is our drinking water, not just our water to recreate in.  It is time to replace our pro-pollution County Board of Supervisors, state representatives, and governor in order to clean up our water,” said Mark Edwards, CCI member and former DNR employee and ratepayer from Boone.

“I believe this is the first time Boone has violated the drinking water standard, if this is the case it is an indication this problem is not getting better.  It would be nice to see something done on the Nitrate issue, whether it’s through courts or the ag community addressing the situation.  I don’t think voluntary is going to work.  It’s not a knock against farmers but it’s just human nature.” Gary Benjamin, CEO/General Manager of Xenia Water.

Iowa CCI members that the only way to address this issue is to go directly after the source of the pollution – factory farm manure and ag fertilizer.  CCI members are demanding Clean Water Act permits be issued to factory farms in Iowa so they are held to tougher standards or are shutdown.  CCI members also believe that voluntary measure do not and will not work.

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 758 manure spills since 1996 and Iowa currently has more than 725 polluted waterways.

 

They DUMP it, you DRINK it, we won’t stop ’til they clean it up!

Learn more

 

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.

 

CCI Member, Ray Harden, from Perry, Iowa wrote an excellent piece about the Des Moines Water Works Lawsuit and the new dirty water attack ad.  Check it out!

 

DES MOINES WATERWORKS LAWSUIT

 

The T.V. commercial opposing the Des Moines Waterworks legal action against  three county drainage districts in northwest Iowa has misleading statements. The commercial gives the impression that individual farmers are being sued, this is incorrect.  The legal action is against drainage districts, not farmers or landowners.  Under Iowa law the drainage districts are run by the county supervisors, they are responsible for operating and maintaining the drainage district system.

The Des Moines Waterworks (DMWW) is saying that the districts are allowing water that contains known  pollutants to be discharged into Iowa’s waterways via a drainage ditch is a “point source of pollution” and should be regulated by the Federal Clean Water Act.  The discharge from the drainage ditches should be treated the same way as a discharge from a municipal sewage facility.  DMWW wants drainage districts to be regulated and be required to have a permit for discharge.  This is what the courts will decide.

The most egregious  statement made in the T.V. commercial is: ” Currently Iowa’s rivers are the cleanest they have been in twenty years.”  The Iowa Clean Water Alliance does not provide any data to backup this claim regarding water quality.  It is ironic that the statement was made the same week that the Iowa Department of Natural Resources reported Iowa’s

“Impaired Bodies of Water” has increased 15% in the last two years- there are now 725 bodies of water on the list (Des Moines Register May 15).  The North Raccoon River, that flows through Dallas County, is one the most polluted.

The “Clean Water Alliance” does not provide any data to backup this statement regarding water quality.  I am not seeing the rivers getting cleaner.   I do a monthly nitrate test on three drainage tiles that flow into a creek near Perry.  From late winter to May  these three tiles have consistently had nitrate reading of 15mgm per liter to 20mgm per liter.  More that 10mgm per liter is not considered to be safe in drinking water.

I did nitrate tests on the waters of the North Raccoon River, from Greene County to Dallas County on a recent canoe trip and found similar nitrate readings.    The river’s color is also a sign of water quality- the river was a chocolate brown, indicating a lot of soil erosion.  The soil washing into the streams carries fertilizer, manure, and other undesirable chemicals that have a harmful effect on wildlife and humans.

It has been many years since I have caught a walleye or smallmouth bass in the Raccoon River- fish that need clean water.  It has been equally as long since I have see a live mussel or clam in the river; they are dying because of nitrates in the water.  Where is the clean water the commercial is referring to?

I am pleased the Des Moines Water Works is moving forward with the lawsuit.  This action will bring more focus to the problem and hopefully the Iowa Legislature and governor will provide more funds for agricultural conservation practices and regulations to improve Iowa’s water quality.

 

Ray Harden

Perry, Iowa

 

 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.

Learn more