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Iowa CCI members in 11 different counties are currently fighting local factory farm construction

Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (Iowa CCI) members across the state are active in local fights to stop fourteen new factory farms from being built in 11 different counties, and every sign points to another busy year for Iowa factory farm fighters as the corporate ag industry continues to expand.

Stopping factory farm construction at the source is one of the most effective ways to keep toxic manure out of water.  It also helps broaden our base by bringing new people into the fight, which ultimately means more power to talk, act, and get things done.

Iowa CCI members have nearly 40 years experience organizing communities to effectively fight back against corporate power and win.  Last year, CCI members led campaigns in 30 counties and stopped 14 factory farms from being built.  We’ve stopped more than one hundred factory farms since 1986.

Join the Fight

2013 is shaping up to be another record-breaking year in the fightback against factory farming. Already, we’re seeing 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:

With more than 75 people at our meeting with Region 7 Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Director Karl Brooks last night, you and our allies the Iowa Sierra Club and the Environmental Integrity Project sent a powerful message to the EPA and set the stage for cleaning up Iowa’s water and holding factory farms accountable over the next five years.

Though Brooks was clearly not comfortable being in the CCI hot seat, he called the clean water framework coming to Iowa “precedent setting” on a national level.  And that’s because of your work.

Brooks committed to holding the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) accountable to implement five aspects of a new work plan to bring Iowa into compliance with the federal Clean Water Act. The work plan will require the DNR to make major changes in the way it runs the factory farm enforcement program.

The five key aspects of the work plan include:

  • New DNR regulations to be completed by February 2014, which will make Iowa’s factory farm discharge permits as stringent as required under federal law.
  • New DNR criteria for determining which factory farms are polluting waterways, to allow for consistent and thorough inspections.
  • DNR inspections of approximately 8,000 large and medium factory farms by the end of 2018, to determine which facilities require Clean Water Act discharge permits.
  • New legislation so state setback requirements for manure spreading match federal requirements.
  • Increased DNR penalties for factory farms that discharge pollution illegally or violate Clean Water Act permits, so that penalties effectively deter violations.

Our meeting with Brooks last night focused on follow-up to the work plan agreement and CCI members won new commitments from EPA that they will accompany DNR on some inspections the first year, to audit other inspections, and to continue to work closely with our coalition moving forward.

The first five years of our work is nearly over, the second five years is about to begin.

The next several months will be crucial. With your continued support, Iowa CCI members and our coalition partners will continue to act as environmental watchdogs and aggressively monitor the implementation of the EPA/DNR work plan over the next five years and will weigh-in at key times with DNR, EPA, the state legislature, the governor’s office, the mainstream media and continue to engage Iowans to hold government and industry actors accountable.

Stay tuned for more action to come.

Iowa CCI members across the state mobilized at the county level to get the job done!

Eighty-eight Iowa counties voted to implement the master matrix scoring system for factory farm zoning in 2013. 

CCI members across the state contacted their county board of supervisors and asked that they pass the master matrix because it is one of the few tools citizens in local communities have to oppose factory farm construction in their neighborhood that could negatively impact their air, water, property values, and quality of life.

“The success of getting 8 out of 9 counties to pass the master matrix this year shows that Iowans want more local control over factory farms. We want a say in what happens in our communities.” Said Barb Kalbach, a CCI member and fourth-generation family farmer from Dexter. “We can do one better and actually pass a local control bill this session.”

Representative Curt Hanson (D-Fairfield) will be introducing a bill for local control during the 2013 legislative session.  Local control will not change statewide zoning laws, but will give counties “veto power” – a final say in whether or not a factory farm can build in their county.

According to current law, Iowa counties must pass the master matrix every year by January 31 to be able to use it. 

The counties that did not pass the master matrix are Osceola, Plymouth, Iowa, Warren, Mahaska, Keokuk, Washington, Wapello, Des Moines, Lee and Decatur.

Iowa has more than 8,000 factory farms, 800 manure spills since 1995, and 628 polluted waterways, according to Department of Natural Resources’ records.

CCI members say Governor Branstad and Iowa DNR Director Chuck Gipp have failed everyday Iowans and must now reverse course on failed de-regulation and “voluntary compliance” strategies

The list of polluted waters in the state of Iowa has grown from 606 in 2010 to 628 in 2012, according to new data released by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and analyzed by Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (Iowa CCI) members.

“The total number of impaired waters in Iowa’s 2012 Integrated Report is 628, with 482 Section 303(d) waters [Category 5:  impaired and TMDL needed] and 146 waters in Category 4 [impaired but TMDL not required],” reads a new Clean Water Act draft report prepared by John Olson, a DNR Senior Environmental Specialist.

The DNR will present the findings to the Environmental Protection Commission (EPC) at their monthly meeting on January 15 in the Henry A. Wallace Building west of the state capitol.  That same day, the EPC will also consider a “hands-off” rule proposed by the Iowa Association of Business and Industry to weaken enforcement options and “ensure compliance within the least restrictive means possible”.

The new numbers mark the largest number of polluted waterways in Iowa since the state began keeping records sixteen years ago.  In 2008, there were 542 polluted rivers, lakes, and streams, according to the DNR.

I want to live in a state with clean water, but the DNR is now scheduled to weaken factory farm enforcement on behalf of a corporate interest group, on the same day they hear new data that our water quality continues to get worse,”

said Lori Nelson of Bayard, the Iowa CCI Board president, who is surrounded by 5,000 corporate hogs within a half mile of her home.

“This kind of irony isn’t funny.  Shame on DNR Director Chuck Gipp for letting this happen.”

Iowa CCI members say that the recent water quality findings also puts renewed pressure on Governor Terry Branstad to end his opposition to strong and effective public oversight just days before his 2013 “Condition of the State” address next Tuesday.

“Governor Branstad has spent the last two years trying to de-regulate and defund environmental protections while promoting a failed voluntary compliance approach that benefits the corporate ag industry at the expense of everyday Iowans and the environment,” Nelson continued.

“In the short-term, we need a fully-funded DNR and strong new Clean Water Act rules that ensure operating permits for all of Iowa’s 8,000 factory farms, with a three strikes and you’re out policy for habitual violators.  In the long-term, we need local control, stronger permitting standards, and increased separation distances.”

There have been more than 800 documented manure spills since 1995.  In 2010, former DNR Director Rich Leopold told a crowd of Scott County CCI members that the real number could be 10 times that high.

Join the fight

Join us on January 15th for our Kickoff at the Capitol to fight for clean water and public policy that protects Iowa!

Matt Ditch Withdraws Factory Farm Application Under Pressure from Community 

Proposed Maschhoff Pork Site Did Not Meet Legal Requirements for a Permit

Linn County resident Matt Ditch withdrew his application for a construction permit to build a giant 5,600-head factory farm site near Center Point Tuesday after widespread community opposition organized by local Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (Iowa CCI) members highlighted enough flaws in his submitted Master Matrix score to prove to both Linn County and the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) that the application did not meet the legal requirements for a permit.

“The applicant withdrew his application this morning after my staff advised him that he did not score enough points on the Master Matrix to be issued a permit,” Bill Ehm, the DNR’s Environmental Protection Division Administrator, told a group of more than 50 local-area residents last night in Center Point at a meeting organized by Iowa CCI members.

Iowa CCI members were quick to cut Ditch’s decision as a victory for organized people and vowed to continue to pressure Ditch and Maschhoff Pork to drop any future plans to re-apply.

“We are united and we will not tolerate any more factory farms in our community,” said Regina Behmlander, a CCI member from Center Point who has helped galvanize community opposition to the proposal.  “We will continue to fight any attempt by any party to build corporate factory farms which pollute our air and water and ruin our quality of life.”

See also:

Linn County CCI Members to Meet With Top DNR Officials Tuesday in Center Point

Linn County CCI Wins First Step Victory

Linn County Factory Farm Fight Heats Up

Calling Linn County Factory Farm Fighters

Join the fight

Click LIKE and TWEET to share with friends and family in Linn Co.

CCI members to push EPC, EPA to crack down on factory farm pollution

The fight for clean water and a more democratic society that puts people before profits, politics, and polluters heats up this week with two high-profile public hearings with state and federal environmental regulators.

On Tuesday morning at 10am at 7900 Hickman Road, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR’s) Environmental Protection Commission (EPC) will vote on a proposal to ban the application of liquid manure on fields going into soybeans – a bad environmental practice that can lead directly to more runoff and more water pollution with no increase in crop yields.

“I’m a corn and soybean farmer and putting manure on ground going to soybeans is ridiculous,” said George Naylor, an independent family farmer and CCI member from Churdan, Iowa.  “Beans won’t use the nitrogen so it will enter the surface and ground water.  If manure was applied the year before corn, there will be plenty of phosphorus and other nutrients for a soybean crop already in the soil.  We need to ban the application of liquid manure on ground going into soybeans.”

On Thursday, Karl Brooks, the Region 7 Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will meet with Iowa CCI members and our allies the Environmental Integrity Project and the Iowa Sierra Club to discuss a new DNR factory farm enforcement work plan.  The meeting will begin at 7:00pm at the State Historical Building, 600 East Locust Street.

“The bottom line is, every factory farm in Iowa needs a Clean Water Act permit that is strictly enforced with tough fines and penalties for violators, and there is very little in the DNR’s response that shows they are serious about cracking down on this kind of corporate pollution,” said Barb Kalbach, a fourth generation family farmer and Iowa CCI member from Dexter, Iowa.

One notable aspect of the new DNR work plan is its admission that DNR field staff is woefully underfunded and needs more resources from the state legislature in order to fulfill its obligations under the federal Clean Water Act.

The September 11 DNR work plan was mandated by a July EPA report that itself was a response to a nearly five-year-old petition by Iowa CCI members, the Environmental Integrity Project, and the Iowa Sierra Club, which alleged widespread failures to regulate illegal factory farm discharges.  The de-delegation petition asked EPA to withdraw Iowa’s authority to run the state’s Clean Water Act permitting program.

The petition noted that despite hundreds of illegal manure spills from hog factories in Iowa, no confinements in the state have Clean Water Act permits required of all dischargers.

Iowa CCI members say the new request for funding could be paid for by closing corporate tax loopholes on out-of-state corporations doing business in Iowa – so-called “combined corporate reporting” – and by zoning factory farms as commercial or industrial properties rather than agricultural.

Iowa has more than 572 polluted waterways, and there have been more than 800 manure spills in the last 15 years, according to DNR records.

A 2007 study by the Iowa Policy Project stated that factory farm manure “may be the largest agricultural polluter of Iowa’s streams and lakes”.

58% of Iowans say “we need stronger laws to stop factory farms from polluting our air and water,” according to an April 24-26 telephone poll of 633 active voters conducted by Public Policy Polling.