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.

 

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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

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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.

Last week, we learned that the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is recommending denial of the formal rulemaking petition filed by Iowa CCI and Food & Water Watch to finally strengthen the Master Matrix.

While their recommendation comes as no surprise, we are disappointed and angry that the agency sworn to protect Iowa’s people and environment has chosen to pass the buck. Their decision to deny commonsense water protections signals that the DNR is not truly invested in making sure our communities are adequately protected from the factory farm industry.

We proposed a Master Matrix that is more than just an automatic pass. But it’s clear that DNR wants to ensure this tool remains a rubber stamp for corporate ag.

DNR cherry-picked just a few items in the petition to justify denying it outright, while ignoring everything else. And in their response, DNR completely failed to even mention that the factory farm industry has expanded exponentially since the Master Matrix was created 15 years ago and is a major contributor to Iowa’s water crisis.

Here’s our rebuttal to DNR’s weak excuses: 

  1. DNR says our proposed Master Matrix is not feasible for the industry to pass. We disagree. Our petition is feasible because it is “capable of being done or carried out” – which DNR even acknowledged in its review.
  2. DNR says we’re demanding too much by asking them to select appropriate separation distances. This excuse is unacceptable. Protecting our natural resources is their job.
  3. DNR says certain criteria in our proposal are “improper” – like taking into consideration an applicant’s violation history. Everything that we proposed in the petition is legally possible and justifiable.
  4. Even if DNR disagrees with certain items in our petition, that is no reason to deny it outright. Our proposal is a place to start – DNR could still move forward and offer their own alternatives.
  5. But, because they chose to deny it in whole, DNR is yet again passing the buck and losing out on an opportunity to make changes right now.

This doesn’t mean our fight is over! The ultimate decision rests with the Environmental Protection Commission (EPC).

Join us on September 18 to tell the EPC to vote with the people and strengthen the Master Matrix. 

We need to show up strong to tell the DNR, EPC, Governor Kim Reynolds, and our state legislature that we’re sick and tired of the factory farm industry running roughshod over Iowa.

When: Monday, September 18 @ 9 AM
Where: Iowa State Capitol, Room 116 (1007 E Grand Ave, Des Moines)
RSVP: Click here!

Learn more

 

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  • Ready to take action? Contact us to learn how to get actively involved in this fight.
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by Mark A. Kuhn, courtesy The Des Moines Register

As one of 12 legislators who drafted the bill in 2002 that created the Master Matrix, a current member of the Floyd County Board of Supervisors tasked with reviewing Master Matrix applications, and a lifelong Iowa farmer, I have a unique perspective on the Master Matrix, its failings and how it could be improved.

I support the recent petition presented by the Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement and Food & Water Watch because it is needed to restore balance to a system that has failed to adequately protect the rights of all Iowans, and certain precious natural resources unique to different counties, such as Karst topography in northeast Iowa.

TAKE ACTION! Add your name to the list of Iowans that demand stronger factory farm rules.

The Master Matrix is a scoring system that awards points for livestock producers who adopt additional practices greater than the minimum required by state law. Points are awarded for increasing the minimum separated distances between concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) and churches, residences, public-use areas, and bodies of water. More restrictive manure management practices score additional points. The Master Matrix has a total of 44 questions that could result in a perfect score of 880 points, but only 440 points are required to get a passing grade.

The Department of Natural Resources’ analysis of the Master Matrix shows that certain questions pertaining to separated distances are easy to score points on and nearly every application does. Points are also awarded for practices, such as concrete manure storage structures, that are the industry standard. Other questions requiring air-quality monitoring, the installation of filters to reduce odors, demonstrating community support, implementing a worker safety and protection plan, or adopting an approved comprehensive nutrient management plan are almost never answered.

Once an applicant achieves the minimum required points, they are not required to answer any further questions. It is a pass-fail test that has failed Iowans. It is out of date and needs to be changed.

The process also puts unreasonable time restrictions on counties. Once an application is received, a county has only 30 days to review the application for accuracy, call for a public hearing by publishing notice in official county newspapers, conduct the hearing, and make a recommendation to the DNR whether to approve the application or not. If the county doesn’t deny the permit, the DNR will approve it without any review.

To make matters worse, neither the applicant nor the company responsible for preparing the application is required to attend the public hearing to answer questions about the proposed CAFO. This happened twice recently in Floyd County, leading to misinformation and distrust between livestock producers and their neighbors.

It’s no wonder that Floyd County is one of 13 Iowa counties that passed resolutions or sent letters to leaders of the Legislature and former Gov. Branstad, asking them to strengthen the Master Matrix. But those efforts at the local level fell on deaf ears in Des Moines. The Legislature and Branstad did nothing.

A bill by Sen. David Johnson (I-Ocheyedan), calling for a review of the Master Matrix by the advisory committee that originally established it was never given a hearing in the Senate Ag committee. Another bill authored by Rep. Mike Sexton (R-Rockwell City) that required the DNR to include additional water-quality criteria in the Master Matrix suffered the same fate in the House Ag committee.

However, the Legislature did see fit to approve a nuisance lawsuit protection bill for CAFO owners that limits monetary damages and lawsuits to one per lifetime. This bill was pushed by the livestock industry in retaliation to Iowans who are forced to resort to litigation because they can no longer enjoy their own property.

As a lifelong farmer, I know the value that Iowa livestock producers add to the corn and soybeans I grow. With only 2 percent of all Master Matrix applications ever denied by the DNR since the law was created in 2002, I also know the current system is weighted heavily in favor of the livestock industry.

The livestock industry and the agri-business lobby have been successful for decades in dividing Iowans on this issue by labeling any legislator who supports change as being opposed to modern agriculture and the next generation of young farmers, while ignoring the real issue: Iowans have the right to breathe clean air, drink clean water and enjoy their quality of life.

This issue is too important to Iowa’s future to be reduced to the politics of division. It is not a rural vs. urban issue. It is a neighbor vs. neighbor issue. There are plenty of rural residents and farmers just like me who support Iowa’s livestock industry, but object to a confinement barn with thousands of squealing hogs or hundreds of thousands of chickens to be built 1,875 feet from their residence, and allow the untreated waste from those animals to be spread immediately adjacent to their homes and farmsteads.

That’s why I support the petition for changes to the Master Matrix. It doesn’t call for local control of siting or a moratorium on new construction. It works within the existing system to balance the scale of justice for all Iowans.

MARK A. KUHN is the owner/operator of the Kuhn family farm, a member of the Floyd County Board of Supervisors (1992-98 and 2011-present), and a former Democratic state representative (1999-2010).

 

TAKE ACTION! Add your name to the list of Iowans that demand stronger factory farm rules.

Learn more about our filing with the DNR!

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July 19, 2017.   Yesterday, we went on offense for clean water. Iowa CCI and Food & Water Watch filed a petition with the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to strengthen rules on factory farms!

Click here to support the petition and demand stronger rules!

The Master Matrix – a tool used to evaluate applications for new factory farms – was created by the legislature in 2002 with the promise of giving communities a greater voice in factory farm construction and more protections from factory farm pollution. But, in its fifteen years of existence, that hasn’t happened.

Instead of working for everyday people, the Master Matrix only works for the industry.

We all know it: Iowa is in a water crisis. But, year after year, the legislature has failed to act. Iowans can’t wait any longer.

That’s why on Tuesday, we teamed up with our allies at Food & Water Watch to file a formal rulemaking petition with the DNR to finally strengthen the Master Matrix. We know it’s no substitute for local control or a moratorium, but the Master Matrix is one tool DNR can strengthen right now outside of the legislature to enact meaningful changes that will protect our communities and environment from factory farm pollution.

The DNR has 60 days to respond to our petition. During that time, we want to collect as many comments in support of this petition as possible.

Click here! Show DNR that Iowans demand stronger factory farm rules!

The petition asks for:

  • A higher minimum passing score, requiring applicants to earn more points to obtain a permit;
  • A one-time enrollment for counties, rather than the current burdensome requirement for counties to readopt the Master Matrix every single year;
  • Revisions to the point structure to incentivize practices that prevent or mitigate pollution;
  • New criteria that consider more environmental factors, such as unique topography and existing water pollution impairments;
  • Elimination of criteria that do not provide meaningful environmental or community benefits; and
  • Increased separation distances from things like schools, homes, public use areas, wells, etc.

TAKE ACTION TODAY! Click here to support strengthening the Master Matrix!

This is just one step in our clean water fight. We’ll keep pushing for mandatory – not voluntary – water protections, and a budget where Big Ag – not taxpayers – pays to clean up its pollution.

Together, we can make the changes we need for clean water and healthy communities!

 

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
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