Report spotlights state inaction on continually growing problem, failure of nutrient reduction strategy, lack of political will

For Immediate Release 11/14/2019
For more information, contact:
Adam Mason, State Policy Organizing Director
adam@iowacci.org
515-282-0484

Des Moines, IA – Today members of Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (Iowa CCI) are pointing to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) release of the 2018 303d list – better knowns as its impaired waters report as evidence the state is failing Iowans when it comes to water quality. The report released this morning, required by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), is typically released every two years in the Spring.  However, the DNR claimed difficulties during this reporting cycle leading to the release six months later than normal.

The 2018 report found that Iowa’s impaired water bodies has increased to 767, up from 750 two years ago. Upon initial review, Iowa CCI members also flagged several problematic details:

  • Over half of those waterbodies assessed came back with level 4 or level 5 impairments
  • 57% of Iowa’s rivers and streams that were assessed came back as impaired
  • 57% of Iowa’s lakes and reservoirs that were assessed came back as impaired
  • 523 waters are in need of further assessment
  • Only 27 waterways were “delisted” or removed from a level 4 or level 5 impairment
  • Of the impairments identified, a majority are potentially byproducts of industrialized ag practices within the state (i.e. fish kills attributable to manure spills, fertilizer and pesticides; or bacteria levels and algal growth as a symptom of possible farm runoff)

“Today’s report is woefully inadequate and insufficient. Iowans are being hurt physically and financially by the quality of water in Iowa. We need definite numbers to really see the trends in Iowa’s water quality.” Said Betty Salmon, a retired teacher and Iowa CCI member from Urbandale, IA.

Iowa’s primary strategy for improving water quality has been the Voluntary Nutrient Reduction Strategy (NRS), adopted in 2013 to reduce nitrogen and phosphorus loading in Iowa’s waterways. However, when it comes to nonpoint sources of nutrient pollution – industrial agricultural operations and practices being one of the main examples – the strategy is merely voluntary.

This voluntary NRS has been proven to be a complete failure and according to a report from the Iowa Environmental Council (IEC), the state is hundreds, possibly even thousands of years behind where we should be to reduce Iowa’s contribution to the Dead Zone in the Gulf of Mexico. 

“This is one more sign that the state’s nutrient reduction strategy is a complete failure. The report fails to differentiate the magnitude of impairments in many of Iowa’s waterways. But the reality is that any impairment is unacceptable.” said Cherie Mortice, retired teacher and Iowa CCI member from Des Moines. “That’s why are suing the state – every Iowan has a right to clean water and the state has a duty to protect that right.”

Earlier this year, Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement and Food & Water Watch filed a lawsuit against the State of Iowa because the Legislature has failed to take Iowa’s water pollution crisis seriously. The groups’ lawsuit alleges that the state has violated its obligation under the Public Trust Doctrine to protect the Raccoon River for the use and benefit of all Iowans by failing to limit the pollution running off industrial agriculture operations into the Raccoon River and its tributaries.

The lawsuit asks the Court to order the state to adopt a mandatory clean-plan and a moratorium on new and expanding factory farms – the main contributors to the elevated nitrogen and phosphorus pollution found in the water. The groups are represented by Public Justice, Food & Water Watch, Roxanne Conlin & Associates, and Channing Dutton, of Lawyer, Lawyer, Dutton & Drake LLP.

In spite of the mounting demand for action on water, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds to tout her investment in the failed NRS. Recent Iowa Policy Project reports show her claims ring untrue as well, with the level of water quality funding being lower than it was ten years ago in terms of real dollars.

“We know that DNR is overworked and understaffed. They want to do a good job, and care about our natural resources.” said Tom Mohan, Iowa CCI board president from Sioux City. “This is really a question of political will. We call on Governor Reynolds and the Legislature to provide all Iowans the clean water we demand and deserve.”

Press release:

DNR/EPC MISSED MAJOR ERROR IN IOWA SELECT FACTORY FARM APPLICATION

Today Iowa’s Environmental Protection Commission (EPC) took no action on a Humboldt County appeal of a factory farm permit approved by DNR in January, despite being denied at the county level.   However, county officials say they will be voting to appeal this in District Court at an upcoming meeting, if ultimately approved.

During the hearing it was brought to everyone’s attention that Iowa DNR did not do it’s due diligence after Iowa Select submitted an apparently erroneous application.  The nearest home to the proposed factory farm is also a business; which changes the points they received for separation distances from a commercial enterprise, item 3 on the Master Matrix.  This would lower the Master Matrix score from 445 to 420 – a failing grade which would automatically deny the permit to build the factory farm.

“It appears that Iowa Select is not a good neighbor because if they were they would have known about our business,” said Lynsy Harrigan, daughter of the nearest neighbors of the proposed factory farm in Humboldt County.  “It seems  like Iowa Select only cares about its profits, not about the Iowans they negatively impact.  We need local control.”

However, Iowa Select attempted to make a case that the neighbors business was not a business.  State law (567—65.1 (459,459B) Definitions) says:

“Commercial enterprise” means a building which is used as a part of a business that manufactures goods, delivers services, or sells goods or services, which is customarily and regularly used by the general public during the entire calendar year and which is connected to electric, water, and sewer systems. A commercial enterprise does not include a farm operation.

The business, located less than a quarter mile away, meets all the definitions of a commercial enterprise under state law.

To address this new finding, EPC member Bob Sinclair, made a motion to table the decision, which failed.  Then EPC member Mary Boote, motioned to approve the application, which also failed.

EPC member Howard Hill abstained from voting because of a conflict of interest having worked for Iowa Select most of his life. This conflict of interest comes in addition to the $275,000 in campaign donations to Governor Reynolds from the owners of Iowa Select.

Members of Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement will continue to organize community members in Humboldt County as they challenge Iowa Select’s unwanted expansion.

This hearing also comes after two more counties – Fremont and Fayette – recently passed resolutions calling for more protections from the factory farm industry.

According to the USDA Ag Census, in 1978, Iowa had 57,325 farmers raising hogs on diversified livestock operations all across the state.  But in 2012, we had just 6,266 farmers raising hogs,” said Shari Hawk, CCI member from Ankeny.  “As we’ve increased the number of factory farms in our state, we’ve lost our independent family farmers who were once the backbone of our communities.  It’s time for a moratorium on factory farms.”

Iowa Select is the largest hog producer in Iowa and the fifth largest nationally. The factory farm application contested by Humboldt County is one of 20+ factory farms that Iowa Select proposed in the span of about two months. The EPC was originally scheduled to hear Hardin County’s appeal of an Iowa Select factory farm as well, but Iowa Select withdrew that application in response to mounting public pressure.

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. CCI has been fighting to put people first for over 40 years. Follow us on Twitter at @iowacci.

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Victory!  We haven’t stopped the Iowa Select factory farm yet, but it’s safe to say that we planted enough doubt in the minds of Hardin County supervisors that they delayed their decision until Wednesday, December 27 @ 10am.  That means we have two more weeks to organize and put pressure on Iowa Select and the Supervisors to stop this factory farm expansion.

Around 30 people showed up in opposition to Iowa Select’s factor farm at Wednesday’s hearing. Their powerful testimonies covered a range of topics, including air, water and quality of life pollution, property value loss, loss of the family farmer, lost county tax revenue, destruction of historical places, and destruction of county values and vision.  You can watch the hearing here.

We were powerful, organized, and unified.  Even Senator Johnson, Independent State Senator from Osceola County, joined us at the hearing to set the record straight about what power the Supervisors have. He made it clear that the supervisors have the power to take points off the Master Matrix and recommend that DNR deny the application.

Over the past couple months, Iowa Select has submitted 20 applications in 9 counties to build or expand factory farms. These new factory farms will produce millions more gallons of manure each year.  You know that Iowa’s water is already polluted, including Pine Lake in Hardin County, and we don’t need any more manure in our state!

We’ve also heard rumors that Iowa Select has plans for 19 new factory farms in Hardin County alone in 2018. 

That’s why we have to use the next two weeks to pressure the Supervisors to take points of the Master Matrix, and we have to pressure Iowa Select to stop building factory farms in our communities.

Here are the next steps in our campaign to stop the Hardin County Iowa Select factory farm:

  • Attend the Supervisor hearing in Eldora (courthouse) on Wednesday, December 27th @ 10am
    • We need to outnumber Iowa Select!
  • Call your Supervisors and Iowa Select and tell them why they should stop the expansion
    • Iowa Select – 641-648-4479
    • BJ Hoffman – 641-939-8220
    • Lance Granzow – 641-939-8221
    • Renee McClelland – 641-939-8222
  • Join Iowa CCI as a member to support our work to stop factory farms and fight for clean water across the state.

Iowa Select may have money, but we have each other.  Wednesday’s hearing showed that when we come together and organize, we can stop big money. Please contact Iowa CCI at 515-282-0484 if you have any questions.

 

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.

Iowa Select, the state’s largest hog corporation, wants to build 19 new factory farms  across Iowa. That’s nearly 90,000 more hogs producing an estimated 36.7 million gallons of manure – enough to fill 55 Olympic-size swimming pools. This news comes amidst public calls for a moratorium on new factory farms.

Can you attend these public hearings to help stop Iowa Select?

Email iowacci@iowacci.org to let us know if you’re attending any of these hearings so we can send our objections to the applications. Click here for a list of County Supervisors and addresses of the meetings.

 

Franklin County – Supervisors failed the Matrix and recommended denial.
Hansell Finisher Farm – #69641 – 5,000 head – decision due by 11/20
Public hearing: November 6 at 10 AM

Humboldt County – Zoning Board of Adjustments is recommending the Supervisors deny the application.
Texas Finisher Farm – #69650 – 5,000 head – decision due by 11/25
Supervisors vote: November 20 at 6 PM – make sure they take points off the Matrix.

Bremer County – Supervisors approved the application.
Lafayette Finisher Farm – #69645 – 5,000 head – decision due by 11/20
Public hearing: November 9 at 11 AM and November 13 at 11 AM

Wright County – Supervisors approved both applications but sending a recommendation to DNR for more environmental protections.
Ladd Finisher Farm – #69636 – 5,000 head – due 11/17/17
Buchanan Finisher Farm – #69635 – 5,000 head – due 11/17/17
Public hearing: November 13 at 9:30 AM

Palo Alto County – Supervisors approved the application.
Fairville Finisher Farm – #69637 – 7,490 head – decision due by 11/17
Public hearing: November 13 at 7 PM; goes to supervisors on November 14

Hamilton County – Supervisors approved the applications.
Doolan Finisher Farm – #69634 – 7,490 head – due 11/17/17
Abbott Finisher Farm – #69633 – 5,000 head – due 11/16/17
Chase Finisher Farm – #69632 – 5,000 head – due 11/16/17
Stagecoach Finisher Farm – #69631—5,000 head – due 11/16/17
Greenfield Fox Finisher – #68545 – 5,000 head (expansion 2,510 head) – due by 11/06/17 (approved)
Public hearing: November 14 at 9 AM

Webster County – Supervisors denied two on principle, but did not fail the Master Matrix.  They did approve one of the applications.
Newark Finisher Farm – #69649 – 7,490 head – decision due by 11/21
Dunco Finisher Farm – #69648 – 5,000 head – decision due by 11/21
Carter Finisher Farm – #69647 – 5,000 head – decision due by 11/21
Public hearing: November 14 at 10 AM

Dallas County
Connolly Pork Finisher Farm – #69576 – 2,490 head – unpermitted
Pauley Finisher Farm – #69577 – 2,490 head – unpermitted
Charlie Pork Finisher Farm – #69574 – 2,490 head – unpermitted
Kent Finisher Farm – #69575 – 2,490 head – unpermitted
Gift Pork Finisher Farm – #69573 – 2,490 head – unpermitted
No public hearing. Call Iowa Select at 641-648-4479 and Robert Manning at 515-321-3004 and tell them to withdraw their applications.

Click the link to view our People Involved Contact Sheet – Iowa Select with contact information of the people that can help stop the Iowa Select Factory Farms.

Click here to add your name to the Stop Iowa Select! petition.

 

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.

 

Onslaught of new factory farm applications

Members of Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (Iowa CCI) in eight Iowa counties this week caught wind of at least 19 new pending factory farm applications submitted by Iowa Select.  Together, the new hog factories would add 87,430 more hogs to Iowa, which already has more hogs than any other state, which directly contribute to Iowa’s water quality crisis.

Join 700+ Iowans that have said no to Iowa Select’s proposals.  Click here to sign the petition and tell Jeff Hansen to withdraw his applications.

Iowa needs a break

According to Iowa State University’s Swine Manure Calculator, the 19 new CAFOs would generate an estimated 36.7 million gallons of manure each year – waste that operators dump untreated on nearby fields. Iowa CCI members calculated it to be enough manure to fill 55.6 Olympic-size swimming pools. The vast majority of applications are in counties surrounding the new Prestage slaughterhouse: Hamilton, Dallas, Webster, Wright, Humboldt, Franklin, Palo Alto, and Bremer counties.

“Enough is enough.  Iowa Select is trying to slip these applications under the radar at the end of the year as counties and environmental groups across the state are calling for a moratorium on new and expanding factory farms,” said Rita Andersen, CCI member from Woolstock.  “I’d rather see 19 new independent family farmers in my community than 19 big factory farms that will ruin my quality of life.”

Applications come as public calls for a moratorium

Iowa Select is Iowa’s largest pork producer and the 8th largest factory farm corporation in the country.  The agribusiness corporation also has a long violation history, including at least 150 manure or ammonia releases polluting air and water, according to DNR’s facility spill database.

“Iowa Select is abusing loopholes with the factory farms in my county,” said Stacy Hartmann, farmer in Dallas County and CCI member.  “They are building these factory farms 10 hogs under the threshold that would trigger more oversight and regulations. In Iowa, we’re good neighbors, and Iowa Select is not.”

CCI members warned of an onslaught of factory farms if the Prestage slaughterhouse was built in Iowa, given Iowa’s weak regulations and enforcement.  This is part of the reason why CCI, along with Food & Water Watch, petitioned the DNR to strengthen rules that would give community members more protections from factory farms. However, the Environmental Protection Commission failed to make these commonsense changes last month.

“I’m sure Jeff Hansen, President of Iowa Select, doesn’t want 19 factory farms in his gated community lined with mansions in West Des Moines.  Why does he think it’s ok to do that to rural Iowans?  He gets the profits and we get the pollution,” said Hartmann.

Enough is enough

CCI members already organized to stop two Iowa Select factory farms in 2017 – one in Wayne County and one in Clay County.

“We’re calling on Iowa DNR to extend the permitting period for these 19 sites to give community members and county supervisors at least 90 days to review this onslaught of factory farm proposals.  We need to tap the brakes,” said Erica Blair, organizer with Iowa CCI.

People impacted by the influx of Iowa Select factory farms or concerned about a factory farm in their community are invited to call the CCI office at 515-282-0484 to learn more about what action steps they can take to stop these factory farms from building.

 

Humboldt County

Texas Finisher Farm – #69650 – 5,000 head – decision due by 11/25

Webster County

Newark Finisher Farm – #69649 – 7,490 head – decision due by 11/21

Dunco Finisher Farm – #69648 – 5,000 head – decision due by 11/21

Carter Finisher Farm – #69647 – 5,000 head – decision due by 11/21

Bremer County

Lafayette Finisher Farm – #69645 – 5,000 head – decision due by 11/20

Franklin County

Hansell Finisher Farm – #69641 – 5,000 head – decision due by 11/20

Palo Alto County

Fairville Finisher Farm – #69637 – 7,490 head – decision due by 11/17

Wright County

Ladd Finisher Farm – #69636 – 5,000 head – due 11/17/17

Buchanan Finisher Farm – #69635 – 5,000 head – due 11/17/17

Hamilton County

Doolan Finisher Farm – #69634 – 7,490 head – due 11/17/17

Abbott Finisher Farm – #69633 – 5,000 head – due 11/16/17

Chase Finisher Farm – #69632 – 5,000 head – due 11/16/17

Stagecoach Finisher Farm – #69631—5,000 head – due 11/16/17

Greenfield Fox Finisher – #68545 – 5,000 head (expansion 2,510 head) – due by 11/06/17

Dallas County

Connolly Pork Finisher Farm – #69576 – 2,490 head – unpermitted

Pauley Finisher Farm – #69577 – 2,490 head – unpermitted

Charlie Pork Finisher Farm – #69574 – 2,490 head – unpermitted

Kent Finisher Farm – #69575 – 2,490 head – unpermitted

Gift Pork Finisher Farm – #69573 – 2,490 head – unpermitted

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.

 

Iowa CCI members, residents in Clay and Wayne counties celebrate and demand moratorium on new factories
Des Moines, Iowa – On Monday, Iowa CCI members and everyday Iowans celebrated as Iowa Select — the largest hog corporation in Iowa and 8th largest nationally — withdrew permit applications for two massive hog factories in Wayne and Clay counties. Both applications, which were overwhelmingly opposed by local residents and county supervisors, were likely to be appealed at the October meeting of the Environmental Protection Commission (EPC).

Locally organized opposition

Residents of Wayne County organized opposition, including a meeting with DNR director Chuck Gipp where over 100 neighbors demanded DNR deny the site, wrote letters to the editor, and successfully convinced their county supervisors to fail the Master Matrix and recommend denial to the DNR.  The DNR overturned the Wayne County Supervisors’ decision.  Wayne County appealed DNR’s approval of the factory farm, and a public hearing before the EPC was scheduled in October.

“We’re celebrating this big victory, but we know that Iowa Select will try to reapply.  We are relentless, and we’ll be ready.  We don’t want any factory farms and we will fight any that Iowa Select proposes to build,” said Pam Woollis, CCI member and resident of Wayne County.

In Clay County, local residents also organized, gathered petition signatures, and convinced their supervisors to recommend denial of the site, which again was overturned by the DNR.  Clay County’s Board of Supervisors was set to vote on appealing DNR’s approval of the factory farm at its meeting today.

“We are overjoyed at Iowa Select’s decision to not build their large hog factory beside our family. However, more importantly, the health of other farm familes and small towns is endangered by Iowa’s lack of regulations to protect the public health and our air and water,” said Sarah Lewis, who fought the 5,000-head factory farm near Spencer, Iowa. “We encourage our Supervisors to make Clay County the 18th Iowa county to call for a moratorium or changes to the Master Matrix until adequate regulations are implemented to protect our environment and familes.”

Iowa Select avoids scrutiny

“In its written notice to the Department of Natural Resources, Iowa Select cited several reasons for withdrawing, but we believe it’s because they are feeling public pressure and know that these appeals would further illustrate the failings of the Master Matrix,” said Erica Blair, community organizer with Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (Iowa CCI).

According to DNR’s construction review activity database, Iowa Select has seven pending facilities across the state in Grundy, Hancock, Hardin, Humboldt, Buena Vista, and Greene counties.  CCI has received calls from residents of several of these counties asking how they can fight the incoming factory farms.

Iowa Select has a long violation history, including at least 150 manure or ammonia releases polluting air and water, according to DNR’s facility spill database.

“Iowa Select creates new LLCs, allowing the company to avoid scrutiny of past violations, making it difficult to know the true number of spills and violations,” said Patti Naylor, a CCI member and family farmer who lives in Greene County, where supervisors just approved a 7,490-head Iowa Select factory farm.  “They’ve become experts at using the Master Matrix to their own advantage.”

This news comes as many scandals are coming to the surface for DNR.  CCI members point to the EPC and DNR’s dismissal of the Master Matrix petition, former DNR employee Gene Tinker’s claim that he was fired for educating counties about the Master Matrix, and DNR’s discovery of over 5,000 additional factory farms in Iowa.

“It’s clear that we need a moratorium from this polluting industry. Our DNR, legislature, and Governor need to work for all of Iowans,” added Naylor.

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. CCI has been fighting to put people first for over 40 years. Follow us on Twitter at @iowacci.