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

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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.

An ad-hoc coalition of community organizations, including Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, Occupy Ames, Occupy Des Moines, Food and Water Watch, and the ISU Sustainable Agriculture Student Association have organized a series of events October 13-20 as part of the “Occupy the World Food Prize” week of action.

The goals are simple:

  • to educate the public about how and why the corporate control of our food supply is bad for the environment and the public health,
  • to expose the corporate ag agenda behind the World Food Prize,
  • and, at least for Iowa CCI members, to win some concrete victories like –
    1) a total ban on the application of liquid manure on ground going into soybeans
    and
    2) progressive reforms to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR’s) factory farm enforcement program.

Each event, panel discussion, public hearing, direct action, and meeting with top decision-makers will appeal to different groups of people at different times for different reasons, but taken as a whole, the “Occupy World Food Prize” week of action will be much greater than the sum of its individual parts.

Iowa CCI members are focusing on two specific events during the larger week of action:

  • The second is a meeting between Iowa CCI members, our allies at the Environmental Integrity Project and the Iowa chapter of the Sierra Club, and Karl Brooks, the Region 7 Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), on Thursday, October 18 to discuss a new DNR work plan to bring Iowa into compliance with the federal Clean Water Act.

 

 

Dates and times for all events are below:

 

Saturday, October 13

• Nonviolent Civil Disobedience Training, 8am-noon

Iowa CCI statewide headquarters, 2001 Forest Avenue, Des Moines

Sunday, October 14

• An afternoon with the Korean Women’s Peasant Association, 2-4pm

Winner of the 2012 Food Sovereignty Prize

Featuring Beomok Bok and Tristan Quinn-Thibodeau

Iowa City Public Library, Meeting Room A

Monday, October 15

• An afternoon with the Korean Women’s Peasant Association, 1-2pm

First Unitarian Church, 1800 Bell, in Des Moines.

• An evening with the Korean Women’s Peasant Association, 6-7:30pm

Sun Room, Memorial Union Building, Iowa State University

Tuesday, October 16

Ban the Spreading of Liquid Manure on Soybeans, 9am-1pm

Environmental Protection Commission Meeting, 7900 Hickman Road, Windsor Heights

Meet at Iowa CCI statewide headquarters at 9am, 2001 Forest Avenue, Des Moines

Contact us if you can attend. TAKE ACTION: Tell the EPC to enact the full ban here.

• Panel Discussion:”What is corporate agriculture and why is it wrong for the planet and the human race?”

6-8pm, Des Moines Public Library, 1000 Grand Ave.

Panel Participants:  Denise O’Brien—National Family Farm Coalition; Francis Thicke—author, “A New Vision for Iowa Food and Agriculture”; CCI member George Naylor—Iowa Farm Unity Coalition, CCI member; Barbara Kalbach—4th generation family farmer, CCI member.

Wednesday, October 17

• Direct Action Civil Disobedience- World Food Prize building, 100 Locust Street

Rockefeller Foundation endowed award, 4pm

Thursday, October 18

• Iowa CCI meeting with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 7 Administrator Karl Brooks

7-9pm, State Historical Building, 600 East Locust Street

Contact us if you can attend. TAKE ACTION: Tell the EPA to push the DNR to crack down on factory farms here.

• Direct Action Civil Disobedience before the World Food Prize Award Ceremony

Iowa State Capitol, 6pm

Friday, October 19

• “The Food Sovereignty Prize – What is it? Why we need to promote it.”,

7pm, 1st Unitarian Church, 1800 Bell Ave, Des Moines

Saturday, October 20

• Occupy the World Food Prize Global Youth Institute held at DuPont/Pioneer

Headquarters, 8am-3:30pm, 7000 NW 62nd Avenue. Johnston, Iowa

 

 Learn more

Join the fight

 

Click LIKE and TWEET to invite your friends to join you for all or part of this “week of action”.

The DNR is promising a lot of big things, but we know from past experience that the DNR only acts when they are forced to by outside pressure – by people like you.

 

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR)  issued a formal response yesterday to a July investigative report by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that was highly critical of DNR’s factory farm enforcement program for:

  • Failing to issue permits to factory farms when required,
  • Not having an adequate factory farm inspection program,
  • Frequently failing to act in response to manure spills and other environmental violations,
  • Not assessing adequate fines and penalties when violations occur, and
  • State setback distances for manure application not meeting  federal requirements.

In their response, which you can read here, the DNR promised to:

  • Initiate new rulemaking beginning November 1, 2012 to bring Iowa into compliance with the federal Clean Water Act,
  • Ask the state legislature for more funding to hire 13 new full-time field staff,
  • Develop a plan to inspect every factory farm in the state of Iowa, and
  • Change other protocols and procedures to bring Iowa’s program up to par with federal standards.

The DNR’s reply is a major victory for Iowa CCI members like you and our allies at the Environmental Integrity Project and the Iowa Sierra Club who have been pushing this issue for years.  But the proof is going to be in the pudding.

The DNR is promising a lot of big things, but we know from past experience that the DNR only acts when they are forced to by outside pressure – by people like you.

And all the new rules in the world won’t mean much if the DNR lacks the will – and the money – to enforce the law.

For now, take stock in the fact that all your hard work is paying off.  You are making a big difference on the issues that matter most.  But we can’t afford to lay back on our laurels and wait for change to just come to us.  We have to continue to be engaged in the public discussion moving forward if we want our vision of a more just and democratic Iowa that puts people first to be realized.

Here are three upcoming opportunities for you to take a stand for clean air and clean water:

  • Tuesday, September 18 – speakout at the Environmental Protection Commission (EPC) against industry attempts to end a 5-year ban on spreading liquid manure on soybeans and reduce fees for groundwater permit applications by factory farms.  9am-noon.  Meet at the CCI statewide headquarters, 2001 Forest Avenue, Des Moines at 9am and we will carpool to the EPC meeting at 10am.  Public comment starts at 10:30am.
  • Tuesday, October 16 – speakout at the EPC meeting against attempts by the Iowa Association of Business and Industry to gut factory farm enforcement rules.  9am-noon.
  • Thursday, October 18 – CCI meeting with Karl Brooks, Region 7 Administrator, U.S. EPA. Iowa State Historical Society Museum, Des Moines.  6:30pm-9pm.

 

Read more:

> Read DNR Director Gipp’s response

Join the fight

 

Six CCI members from across the state met with Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Director Chuck Gipp recently to demand that the DNR stand up for clean air and clean water and crack down on factory farm polluters.

Barb Kalbach, Adair County; Joyce Otto, JoAnn Speas, and Jim Yungclas, Poweshiek County; Cherie Mortice, Polk County; and Evan Burger, Story County all attended the meeting, told personal stories about how factory farm pollution has impacted their lives, and demanded Gipp and the DNR do their job and stop kowtowing to the corporate ag lobby.

The statewide meeting with the top environmental regulator in Iowa came on the heels of a recent report by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) won by more than 5 years of CCI organizing in coalition with the Environmental Integrity Project and the Sierra Club.  On July 12, the EPA issued a report stating that the DNR:

• Failed to issue permits to factory farms when required.

• Does not have an adequate factory farm inspection program.

• Frequently fails to act in response to manure spills and other environmental violations.

• Does not assess adequate fines and penalties when violations occur.

Iowa CCI members told Gipp to throw out a bad rule proposed by the Iowa Association of Business and Industry (ABI) to gut environmental enforcement and instead pass strong rules to implement the federal Clean Water Act.

Iowa CCI members also had a conference call with top EPA officials from the Region 7 office in Kansas City, Kansas to discuss the EPA report and what DNR needs to do to move the state into compliance with federal law.

“We need stronger laws, tougher enforcement, and a fully-funded DNR,” said Larry Ginter, a CCI member and family farmer from Rhodes, Iowa.  “It’s time to move away from the failed corporate policies of deregulation and privatization.”

Iowa CCI members have led a statewide fight-back by everyday people and have mobilized dozens of Iowans from across the state to speak out at public DNR hearings in Carroll, Des Moines, Iowa City, and Mason City in recent weeks.  Iowa CCI members have submitted more than 700 comments to the DNR opposing the bad rule. Click here to email a comment on this rule to the DNR.

Factory farm construction has skyrocketed across Iowa this year, and CCI members across the state are leading the fightback with 40 campaigns in 27 counties.  Iowa CCI members have successfully stopped eight factory farms from being constructed in six different counties this year.

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

57% of Iowans say “we need stronger laws to stop factory farms from polluting our air and water,” according to a July 18-21 telephone poll of 539 active voters conducted by Public Policy Polling.

Ten members of Iowa Citizens of Community Improvement (Iowa CCI) attended a Department of Natural Resource (DNR) public hearing Tuesday in Carroll to demand that the DNR stand up for clean air and water and crack down on factory farm polluters.

The DNR has an open public comment period until August 16 to consider a proposed rule by the largest corporate lobby group in the state, the Iowa Association of Business and Industry (ABI).  ABI’s proposed rule, if passed, will gut enforcement of Iowa’s environmental laws and weaken DNR’s ability to crack down on factory farm polluters with stiff fines and penalties.

Iowa CCI members have led a statewide fight-back by everyday people against the bad ABI rule and have mobilized dozens of Iowans from across the state to speak out at public hearings in Carroll, Des Moines, Iowa City, and Mason City.  Iowa CCI members have submitted more than 700 comments to the DNR opposing the bad rule. Click here to email a comment on this rule to the DNR.

“Iowa waterways are not a sewer,” Jan Craig, a CCI member from Panora, said during Tuesday’s public hearing in Carroll.  “The water belongs to all of us, not just the corporate few who use it as their own private dumping grounds.”

Factory farm construction has skyrocketed across Iowa this year, and CCI members across the state are leading the fightback with 37 campaigns in 25 counties.  Iowa CCI members have successfully stopped eight factory farms from being constructed in six different counties this year.

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

If you agree with this pie chart below, CLICK HERE to take action.

 

Click LIKE and SHARE if you agree with Jan that the DNR needs to get their act together!