Don’t Put All Your Eggs In One Basket
How the factory farm model exacerbates the Bird Flu Epidemic

Chicken and turkey factory farms cram thousands, even millions, of birds into one facility.  This model of raising livestock creates the perfect conditions for diseases like the Avian Bird Flu that has spread across Iowa and Minnesota.

  • Birds in factory farms are unhealthy to begin with. Birds in confined unsanitary conditions have decreased immune systems that make it more difficult to fight off disease. This means the disease can spread quickly, infecting every bird in the facility before it’s detected.  Birds on small family farms are less dense and controlling the spread of the disease could be easier.
  • Birds in factory farms are almost genetically identical. This means when one bird becomes infected the entire flock will become infected. Birds on small family farms have varying genetics so some birds may not be affected by the spread of the disease.
  • Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. The factory farm model of raising chickens and turkeys creates a system that could collapse and create an economic crisis as we’re seeing with the recent Avian Bird Flu Epidemic. Small family farms can be quarantined quicker and because they are spread out, could isolate the crisis without taking a big hit to the market.

Before Iowa Governor Branstad throws more taxpayer money and resources in to cleaning up this factory farm created crisis Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, Iowa Department of Natural Resources, United State Department of Agriculture, and other involved agencies need to answer the following questions publically to ensure these factory farms do not cut environmental corners in the cleanup just to get birds back into the building:

  • What is the full emergency plan to fix this crisis?
  • What methods/chemicals/gases will be used to kill all the birds?
  • What will happen to the birds after they are dead?
  • Will the dead birds be spread on the land and if so, what effects will the chemicals used to kill the birds have on soil, water and air? What chemicals are in the fire retardant foam and will this be spread on the land?
  • Will the dead birds be tested for remnants of the virus before being spread on the land?
  • Millions of dead birds will create quite a stink in rural Iowa, what is your plan to ensure neighbors will not lose their quality of life while the birds are decomposing?
  • Are there any reports of natural birds being affected by this flu?
  • If industry and government officials say this was caused by migratory birds, where are the dead migratory birds and how many have you found?
  • Are any of the factory farms receiving their chicks from the same hatchery?
  • What is the expected cost to taxpayers for this clean-up? (This is an industry that is already heavily subsidized by taxpayers.)
  • How will the industry be held accountable for creating the conditions where disease, like the Avian Bird Flu, can spread rampant and crash an entire sector of the economy?
  • How much are factory farm owners receiving per bird in compensation costs? What’s the total payout so far?

How the industry is already heavily taxpayer subsidized:

  • sales tax exemptions on feed; ($219.6 million in 2010 across all factory farms)
  • sales tax exemption on energy used to heat and cool buildings; ($9.1 million in 2010 across all factory farms)
  • sales tax exemption on implements of animal husbandry ($34.4 million in 2010 across all ag)
  • sales tax exemption on domesticated fowl ($8.9 million in 2010)
  • sales tax exemption on lab tests for livestock (including fowl) ($3.5 million in 2010)
  • other sales tax exemptions… (fowl bedding, etc)
  • property tax exemptions allowing them to be taxed at the rate of the ag land they occupy, rather than the taxable “productivity” value of the building.

Clean Water Act (CWA) permits hold factory farms to higher standards and it can shut them down!  As of today, the DNR has not issued a single Clean Water Act permit to a hog factory farm in Iowa.

Here’s why Clean Water Act permits can be game-changers as we build a farming system that works for People and the Planet!

  • Broader coverage of enforcement
    • CWA permits must prevent discharges from the production area as well as land application areas. Iowa’s Manure Management Plans (MMPs) only address land application areas.
  • More transparency
    • When permits are proposed the public must be given notice of the proposed permit and an opportunity to comment on it. NPDES permits, and all associated reports, must be publicly accessible.
  • Fixed terms
    • Unlike Iowa’s MMPs, CWA permits have fixed five-year terms. That way, they are subject to being reviewed, updated, or terminated on a regular basis. DNR admitted in an Ag Appropriations Sub-Committee this year that DNR does not review MMPs because they do not have the capacity to do so.
  • Operation & maintenance requirements
    • CWA permits have operation and maintenance requirements so that factory farm operators prevent problems before they happen. Currently, factory farm owners may have to fix a problem after a discharge, but aren’t required to use basic practices that would prevent many discharges in the first place.
  • Higher penalties for violations
    • State law caps penalties at $5,000 per day per violation and the state cannot collect more than $10,000 per violation. Under the CWA, penalties are up to $37,500 per day per violation, which would include penalties for discharges or other violations of a permit. Higher penalties mean greater deterrence from pollution. When facilities have NPDES permits, permit violations are also CWA violations that can warrant these heightened penalties, even if the violation does not cause a discharge to a surface water.

If you think the Iowa DNR should start issuing Clean Water Act permits to polluters, join the fight!

 

Join the Fight

Factory farm proposing to build near you? Have concerns about an existing facility? We can work with you and your community to fight back and stand up for clean air and water and your quality of life.

 

As of January 22nd, 2015 fifteen counties still need to submit their Master Matrix resolutions to the DNR by January 31st, 2015! Those counties are:

Adams

Crawford

Decatur

Des Moines

Iowa

Jasper

Keokuk

Lee

Mahaska

Osceola

Plymouth

Pocahontas

Wapello

Warren

Washington

SKMBT_42315012218420One of the tools that communities have in the fight against unwanted factory farms is the Master Matrix, a scoring system for proposed sites that the builder must pass. The Master Matrix is an imperfect tool, but it provides communities with a minimal level of protection against factory farms being built in their communities. In addition, if the county chooses to use the Master Matrix, then applicants must meet stricter environmental standards than they would have to meet otherwise.

However, each county Board of Supervisors must pass the Master Matrix each year before January 31st. So far, 84 counties have passed the Master Matrix. Below, you’ll find all these counties shaded in green (click the image to make it larger).

*NOTE* If you know that your county’s Board of Supervisors has passed the Master Matrix and it’s not reflected on this map the reason is that we have not yet received confirmation from the DNR that they have received your county’s resolution. The DNR updates us directly one to two times per week for the month of January. Your supervisors need to have it postmarked to the DNR by January 31st, 2015!*

 3 simple steps to passing the Master Matrix in your county

1) Call your County Supervisors and ask them to put it on the next Supervisor meeting agenda if they haven’t already;

2) If they have passed the Master Matrix, make sure they sent a copy to the DNR – they have to do  this before  January 31st or it doesn’t count.

Your County Supervisors should mail it to:

Jerah Sheets, IDNR, 502 East 9th Street, Des Moines, IA 50319-0034

OR

Fax it to (515) 725 – 8202

3) Call CCI at 515-282-0484 and let us know so we can keep track and make sure every county passes the  Master Matrix!

If you live in any of the above counties in orange and you care about protecting your air, water, and quality of life, call Carrie at Iowa CCI at (515) 282-0484 to find out how you can get your supervisors to pass the matrix today!

 

Join the Fight

Factory farm proposing to build near you? Have concerns about an existing facility? We can work with you and your community to fight back and stand up for clean air, clean water, and your quality of life.

 

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

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

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.

Learn more

 

Join the Fight

Factory farm proposing to build near you? Have concerns about an existing facility? We can work with you and your community to fight back and stand up for clean air and water and your quality of life.

 

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

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.

 

 

Today marks the one-year anniversary of the precedent-setting Work Plan Agreement between the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to implement the Clean Water Act (CWA) for factory farms in Iowa.

The DNR’s Annual Report issued yesterday shows that when it comes to protecting Iowans and our waterways from one of the biggest DNR 1-YR workplan report cardDNR 1-YR workplan report cardsources of pollution in the state, the DNR still refuses to take its job seriously.

The DNR failed to meet four objectives of the Work Plan: inspections, issuing Clean Water Act permits, issuing finesDNR 1-YR workplan report cardDNR 1-YR workplan report cardDNR 1-YR workplan report card and penalties and providing information to the public.

Check out the report card we made for the DNR: http://iowacci.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/DNR-1-YR-workplan-report-card4.jpg

The Work Plan contains vague and poorly defined goals related to DNR’s oversight of the factory farm industry, but it does represent an important first step in making the industry finally comply with the Federal CWA.

The DNR’s Annual Report shows an agency taking full advantage of the lack of clarity in the Work Plan to continue its long history of avoiding regulating this highly-polluting industry. In the few instances where the Work Plan goals are clearly defined, like with factory farm evaluation and inspection requirements, the DNR cannot even meet its minimal mandates. Click here to view the DNR/EPA Work Plan.

The DNR agreed to inspect and evaluate twenty percent of Iowa’s 8,500+ factory farm facilities during the first year of the Work Plan to determine which operations need permits. The report released yesterday stated they have only completed fourteen percent of the required inspections.

“How many times do we have to say we told you so? We’ve been saying for 7 years that the DNR is failing to do its job and sadly we’re proven right.” Said Larry Ginter, CCI member and family farmer from Rhodes, Iowa. “We told the DNR they needed more than 7 new inspectors to achieve its goal of inspecting twenty percent of all factory farms per year but Governor Branstad and DNR Director Gipp insisted 7 new inspectors was enough.”

The Work Plan also required the DNR to “timely issue [CWA] permits that meet federal requirements to all CAFOs that DNR determines discharge to waters of the U.S.”

Since the Work Plan was signed on September 11, 2013 there have been at least 49 documented manure spills in Iowa, yet the Annual Report admits that ‘no permits were issued as a result of requirements from a Work Plan inspection’. None of the factory farms that had manure spills received a CWA permit either. DNR officials have said they doubt they’ll issue a single permit to a hog factory farm.

“In late August, the Clinton Vos factory farm in Marshall County had a massive manure spill that could have been prevented if the DNR had been doing its job,” said Barb Kalbach, 4th generation family farmer from Dexter. “This factory farm has not been inspected since 2006 and the spill went on for a week before a neighbor reported it to the DNR. This is unacceptable; the DNR needs to issue polluters a permit.”

The Work Plan also requires DNR “to implement an enforcement program that ensures penalties are sought in accordance with DNR’s [Enforcement Management System] and creates a stronger deterrent to noncompliance”.

However, since the Work Plan was signed only 11 of the 49 factory farm polluters have received a fine or penalty, sending a clear message to industry that it’s cheaper to keep polluting than to fix the problem.

DNR is also doing a poor job of keeping the public informed of its Work Plan progress as required. So far the Work Plan progress updates have been vague and contain very little real information.

“DNR should post information about every inspection, manure spill and enforcement action taken.” Said Kalbach. “Without this information how is the public supposed to know if the DNR is just checking off boxes or taking the Work Plan seriously?”

“This Work Plan will only be successful if it leads to real oversight of factory farm pollution in Iowa. That means serious inspections, strong permits, and enforcement actions that ensure it doesn’t pay to pollute. DNR hasn’t shown that it takes permitting seriously, and EPA should step in and conduct independent investigations of Iowa manure spills,” said Tarah Heinzen, attorney at the Environmental Integrity Project.

CCI members are calling on the DNR to strengthen the Clean Water Act implementation with 4 demands.

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

Use your voice to let the DNR know this is unacceptable. Share the report card on Facebook – just click through for a ready to go post!

More of a Twitter fan? Here are some tweets to use!

1 yr-anniversary of EPA Work-Plan: @iowadnr failed to meet all 4 requirements.
Is that why we have 630 polluted waterways? #cleanwaterfight

.@iowadnr failed all 4 requirements of EPA Clean Water Act Work Plan. You can work for a better grade – here’s how!

They DUMP it, you DRINK it, we won’t stop ’til they clean it up!

 

 

Learn more

 

Join the Fight

Factory farm proposing to build near you? Have concerns about an existing facility? We can work with you and your community to fight back and stand up for clean air and water and your quality of life.