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.


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Former Mexican police officer denied asylum in US shows need for Comprehensive Immigration Reform now

Des Moines, IA.  On Sunday night Constantino Morales, a community leader on immigration issues in Iowa, was shot and killed after being deported to Mexico on September 2, 2014.  Constantino, a former police officer for the Guerrero State Police Force in Mexico, came to the United States in 2010 after being assaulted three times by armed men and receiving threats while working.

In 2011, Constantino joined Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement when he experienced wage theft in Iowa and racial profiling by the local police departments.  He became more involved in immigrant justice issues and quickly became a community leader in Des Moines, helping lead actions related to immigration reform, sharing his testimony and getting others in the community involved in fighting for fair and just immigration reform.

In 2011 Constantino received his first notice to appear before court for residing in the US without documentation. Due to the fact that he had been a police officer in Mexico, Constantino told the immigration judge that he was scared to return home, the judge told him to apply for asylum. He applied for asylum in June 2013 and was denied asylum on February 27, 2014.

He didn’t stop there.  Members of the community started a “Stop Constantino’s Deportation” campaign.  Community leaders and Constantino met with former Congressman Latham, Senator Grassley, Des Moines Sherriff Bill McCarthy, State Legislators, Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) staff and other appointed and elected officials who could have weighed in to stop Constantino’s deportation.  They also started asking other Iowans to write letters and make phone calls to ICE to ask them to cancel the deportation – generating hundreds of postcards and over 200 calls to ICE.

As a former Mexican police officer who stood up to publicly against drug trafficking he knew that if he returned to Mexico he would face grave danger.

At a meeting on August 6, 2013, Constantino told Rep. Latham, “If I am sent back, I will face more violence and I could lose my life. We are in severe need of fair immigration reform and a pathway to citizenship. We don’t want any excuses; we know you can make this happen.”

In April 2014, CCI members were in Washington D.C. and pleaded with Senator Grassley to take action to stop Constantino’s deportation.

On April 21, 2014, Iowa CCI sent a second request for prosecutorial discretion, with letters of support from Des Moines Sherriff Bill McCarthy and Iowa State Representative Bruce Hunter, but the request was denied.  Prosecutorial discretion is the authority of an agency or officer  to exercise discretion in deciding when to prosecute and when not to prosecute based on a priority system has long been recognized as a critical part of U.S. law.  Specifically, prosecutorial discretion may be exercised when deciding whether to: issue a detainer; initiate removal proceedings; focus enforcement resources on particular violations or conduct; stop, question, or arrest a particular person; detain or release someone on bond, supervision, or personal recognizance; settle or dismiss a removal case; stay a final order of removal; pursue an appeal; and/or execute a removal order.

The news of Constantino’s death has saddened and angered the Latino and Immigrant Rights Community.

“This tragedy could have been prevented,”  said Luis Rodriguez, CCI Leader.  “People are dying while Congress and our elected officials fail to act. How many more people have to die?”

Every year, thousands of people are torn apart from their families and deported back to Mexico and other Latin American countries.  There are an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States that live in the shadows, who fear deportation.

CCI and other community leaders are planning a vigil to honor and remember Constantino and his passion for helping undocumented immigrants escape from the shadows.  More details to come about time, date and location of vigil. Constantino Morales is survived by a wife and six children.


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Weather, Insufficient DNR Funding and Lack Of Regulation Show Need for a 180 on Factory Farm Policy and Enforcement 

Des Moines, IA.  A trifecta of problems within the factory farm industry have led to one of the largest threats to Iowa’s water in recent years, Iowa CCI members say.  Weather, the ever-growing quantity of manure being dumped untreated onto Iowa’s land and the lack of regulation of the entire industry shows that the amount of manure produced in Iowa is too much for the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), our land and water to handle.



Weather is creating crisis on the frontlines of the factory farm manure pollution problem.  Iowa had unusually high rainfall and early freezing temperatures this year which delayed factory farmers from spreading manure in October and November.  Many factory farms knife-in the manure, a practice that injects the manure into the ground to limit the amount that could runoff into Iowa’s waters.  With the early freeze, DNR sent out a press release last week with instructions on how to get an emergency exemption to spread the manure without knifing it in.


Spreading manure on frozen ground increases the chance of runoff and pollution because the manure is less likely to be absorbed into the ground and is more likely to run into tile lines that are direct pathways to our water.  Last week Des Moines Water Works reported that high levels of Nitrates in the Raccoon and Des Moines Rivers may force them to turn on the $7,000-a-day Nitrate removal machine – which is unheard of in November.


CCI members believe the 11 manure spills that occurred in October and the massive amounts of manure being spread on frozen ground this year are a contributing factor to the high nitrate levels seen in the Des Moines and Raccoon Rivers.


“What DNR is saying is basically we’re giving you all a free pass to pollute our water this season,” said Barb Kalbach, 3rd generation family farmer in Stuart.  “This is Iowa, we know temperatures fluctuate and with climate change these unusual weather changes will become more and more frequent.  DNR must come up with another solution other than granting hundreds of emergency exemptions to dump manure right into our water.  DNR needs to say Iowa cannot handle this much manure and we need to rethink how we produce pork in Iowa before we become the cesspool of the world.”


Factory farm construction continues to expand across Iowa, adding to the 10 billion gallons of toxic liquid manure already produced and spread untreated on Iowa’s farm land.  Throughout the spring and summer Iowans across the state have organized to stop new factory farms from infiltrating their communities, with success at the local County Board of Supervisor level.  However, the DNR has overturned nearly every Supervisor recommendation and allowed the factory farms to build.


Insufficient Funding

Every factory farm is required to submit an updated Manure Management Plan (MMP) to the Department of Natural Resources annually and a full MMP update every four years.


With limited funding and lack of an adequate inspection staff this means the 8,500 MMPs are going basically unchecked by the DNR.  MMPs are required by the DNR to make sure factory farmers are not over-applying manure on fields, spreading manure in environmentally unsafe areas and to make sure factory farmers are using proper equipment and procedures when applying manure.


“There is no way that the inspectors can respond to manure spills, inspect 8,500 factory farms, review new or expanding factory farm applications,  and inspect all 8,500 MMPs. It’s just not possible and the consequence of this is the increased pollution of our water,” said Kalbach. “In the 2013 legislative session we pushed for funding for 13 additional inspectors and the DNR said they only needed five.  This shows the DNR doesn’t grasp the severity of our manure pollution problem.”


Lack of Regulation

Finally, DNR has proven to Iowa that they cannot address Iowa’s water crisis because they are too heavily entrenched with factory farm industry insiders.  CCI members have highlighted 10 of the worst manure spills in the past year help the DNR start issuing Clean Water Act permits.  DNR has still not made any meaningful changes in the way they handle manure spills, issue permits, or issue fines and penalties.


“We’re seeing massive manure spills that pollute our water, kill thousands of fish and other aquatic life and take up massive amounts of time and resources of the DNR inspectors, yet they get away with little to no fines at all.  DNR still hasn’t issued any Clean Water act permits to these egregious factory farms,” said Larry Ginter, retired family farmer from Rhodes.  “The DNR says they won’t issue Clean Water Act permits if a factory farm can prove they have fully remedied the problem.  These factory farms have had three, four or sometimes even five spills.  Isn’t it obvious they can’t and haven’t remedied the problem?”


CCI members say this trifecta of problems highlights the need for a dramatic change at the DNR to get a grasp on the 10 billion gallons of manure already produced and spread on the land in Iowa.


“The truth will be in the numbers come March or April 2015 when the DNR releases the new number of polluted waterways in Iowa,” said Ginter.  “We’ve seen an increase in polluted waterways every year since they started keeping track and we expect nothing different this year because the DNR isn’t doing anything about pollution.”


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 630 polluted waterways.


Iowa CCI 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.



BOLD IOWA RESISTANCE:  Four “Rally and March To Stop the Bakken Oil Pipeline” Events Scheduled For Des Moines, Newton, Iowa City, and Davenport


Statewide demonstrations against the pipeline coincide with former rep Ed Fallon’s national “Great March for Climate Action” as group marches across Iowa this month

A national climate justice march started by a former statehouse representative and currently traveling through Iowa has connected with opponents of a proposed Bakken oil pipeline and will hold four rallies and marches in four separate cities as the group walks across the state this month.

The statewide events will feature speakers from the Great March for Climate Action as well as local-area CCI farmers and other everyday Iowans concerned about climate change and the bakken oil pipeline.  The dates and times are:

  • Des Moines, Monday, August 11, 5pm, Ritual Café to the Iowa State Capitol;
  • Newton, Thursday, August 14, time and location To Be Announced;
  • Iowa City, Wednesday, August 20, 11:30am, Ped Mall;
  • Davenport, Sunday, August 24, 2pm, LeClaire Park.

The Newton rally on August 14 will also include representatives from Bold Nebraska, a grassroots group that has united farmers, ranchers, and environmentalists to fight back against the Keystone XL pipeline.

“I am marching across the country to sound the alarm that our planet is in serious peril.  Building a dangerous Bakken crude oil pipeline does not fit into my vision of a livable future,” said Miriam Kashia, a North Liberty woman who has spent eight months with the Great March for Climate Action as the group moves from Los Angeles to Washington DC.

Organizers with the Great March for Climate Action and Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement say the statewide demonstrations will mark a major escalation in the movement to stop the Bakken oil pipeline as opposition moves from social media and the internet and on to the streets.

A petition launched by Iowa CCI members calling on Governor Branstad to reject the pipeline proposal has garnered hundreds of signatures in less than a week online.

The Great March for Climate Action departed Lost Angeles on March 1 and is scheduled to arrive in Washington, DC on November 1.     

To learn more about the Great March for Climate Action, visit

225+ Iowans Picket Terrace Hill, Demand Branstad Sign Clean Water Fight Pledge To Crack Down on Factory Farm Manure Pollution

Iowa CCI members say Iowa needs local control of factory farm siting and stronger Clean Water Act rules to force the industry to play by tougher standards or get shut down

Chanting: “Whose House?  Our House!”  and “Put People First!” – more than 225 everyday Iowans marched up Terrace Hill July 12 to the governor’s mansion to demand Governor Terry Branstad stop kowtowing to corporate ag and start cracking down on factory farm manure pollution.

The crowd, all members of Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (Iowa CCI), demanded Branstad support local control of factory farm siting, and stronger Clean Water Act rules to force factory farms to obtain federal permits with tougher environmental standards or get shut down with a three-strikes-and-you’re-out policy.

The large crowd of family farmers, retired teachers, church pastors, students, and others also built a giant display of cardboard “factory farms”, a “river”, and “manure spills”, along with big signs that read “They Dump It.  You Drink It.  We Won’t Stop Til They Clean It Up.  Governor Branstad, Sign the Pledge.  We Want A Governor Who Will Clean It Up.”

Rosie Partridge, a CCI member from rural Wall Lake in Sac county, said she was there to ask Governor Branstad to sign a giant “Clean Water Fight Pledge” card that read “I pledge to fight for Iowa’s right to clean water and put people before profits, politics, and polluters.”

Partridge testified:  “Governor Branstad, during your long terms in office, you have rolled out the welcome mat for out-of-state corporate factory farms to come in to Iowa and run independent family farmers out of business.  You have vetoed money to clean up our rivers, lakes, and streams, and packed the Iowa DNR’s Environmental Protection Commission with factory farm insiders.  You have fought to put big money corporate ag lobbyists inside Clean Water Act negotiations between government regulators, and consistently put the interests of your political donors ahead of the interests of all Iowans and the environment we depend on.”

The Iowa DNR’s EPC commission will vote on draft Clean Water Act rules in August.

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 728 manure spills since 1996 and Iowa currently has more than 630 polluted waterways.

Iowa CCI 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 members held their annual statewide convention in Des Moines July 12 headlined by Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison.

July 8, 2014



Factory Farm Being Built By Branstad Donor & EPC Appointee Would Sit Between Two Creeks That Feed Into The Des Moines River Two Miles Away

Woodward –

Fifty Boone County CCI members took their meeting to Brodie Brelsford’s house, developer of a giant hog confinement that would house 2,480 corporate hogs and produce over 630,000 gallons of toxic liquid manure annually, after he failed to show up at a community meeting.

The factory farm would be operated by Dallas County resident Brodie Brelsford but the facility would actually be built by Brent Rastetter, a top political donor to Governor Terry Branstad and a Branstad-appointee to the Environmental Protection Commission (EPC).  The submitted Manure Management Plan does not state what corporation will actually own the hogs.

Many of the neighbors were upset that Brodie didn’t show up for the meeting.  They feel that he doesn’t care about their concerns about quality of life, health and environmental impacts.

A caravan of over 20 cars traveled from the meeting near the Des Moines River to a golf course community in Perry where Brodie Brelsford lives.  After knocking on the door with no answer, neighbors of the proposed confinement posted their letter to his door demanding he cease construction immediately.

Jan Danilson, another nearby neighbor and CCI member said:  “We live on a century farm that has been in my husband’s family for over 100 years.  It’s our legacy. I want it to be a beautiful place, like it is now, in 20 years when I can give it to my children and grandchildren. We don’t want his factory farm.”

Danielle Wirth, a CCI member, neighbor, and Environmental Science Professor at Drake University, said:  “One of our biggest concerns if this factory farm builds are the environmental impacts.  This site sits in between Eversol Creek and Catum Branch Creek which meet up with the Des Moines River less than 2 miles away.  This site could have a direct impact on the Des Moines Water Works ability to keep Des Moines residents water safe to drink.”

Mark Edwards, retired DNR Trails Coordinator said: “I’m very concerned about the impacts from this factory farm and other factory farms affecting the expanding recreational economy related to the High Trestle Bridge and the master plan to develop other trails along the Des Moines River in Boone County.”

2 years ago CCI members in Dallas County stopped Brodie’s dad, Mike Brelsford, from building a 5,000 head factory farm near Minburn.  Mike Brelsford said community concerns were the reason he withdrew his application.  Boone County neighbors are upset because Brodie Brelsford didn’t ask for neighbors concerns or even tell them he was starting construction.

The Brelsfords are utilizing a loophole in DNR factory farm permitting that allows construction of a factory farm under 2,500 head of hogs without notification of neighbors or a public hearing with the county.  If built, Brodie’s factory farm would house 2,480 hogs – just 20 hogs under the permit threshold.

Iowa CCI members are in the middle of a seven-year campaign to enforce the Clean Water Act against Iowa factory farms and has called on Environmental Protection Commission member Brent Rastetter to recuse himself from an upcoming vote on new Clean Water Act rules because of a conflict of interest.  Rastetter owns Quality Ag, Inc as well as factory farms housing more than 9,000 hogs.

Local CCI members in several Central Iowa counties have fought new factory farm construction by Rastetter in the last two years.

There have been more than 728 manure spills since 1996 and Iowa currently has at least 630 polluted waterways.  Iowa’s more than 20 million hogs produce nearly 10 billion gallons of toxic waste every year.

Iowa CCI 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 Citizens for Community Improvement is a group of everyday people who talk, act and get things done on issues that matter most. With thousands of members from all walks of life — urban and rural, black and white, immigrants and lifelong Iowans — CCI has been tackling tough issues and getting things done for more than 39 years. 

 For more information, visit