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

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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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.

Click the link below to download a copy of the Wayne County petition to stop Iowa Select and any other factory farms that propose to build in the area.

Wayne County Petition

Contact Jess at 515-282-0484 to find out who to submit the petitions to in your area.  Thanks!

CCI Responds to Claims DNR Director Made During Des Moines Register Interview On February 12

 

 Iowa CCI members also release more information about disturbing manure spill patterns at three corporate factory farms in the last three months

 

Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (Iowa CCI) members are responding publicly to statements made by Iowa Department of Natural Resources Director (DNR) Chuck Gipp and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 7 Administrator Karl Brooks during a long sit-down discussion with the Des Moines Register Editorial Board on Wednesday, February 12.

Video of the hour and 12 minute conversation may be viewed here:  Iowa CCI calls for meeting with EPA regional administrator to discuss Clean Water Act, http://www.desmoinesregister.com/article/20140212/BUSINESS01/302120160/Iowa-CCI-calls-meeting-EPA-regional-administrator-discuss-Clean-Water-Act

EPA Region 7 Administrator Karl Brooks told the Des Moines Register Editorial Board he had not read the letter CCI members wrote him dated February 11 and signed by 10 CCI members from 8 different counties. 

Iowa CCI members had a meeting February 11 from noon-1:15pm with EPA Region 7 legal counsel David Cozad, Dan Breedlove and EPA Region 7 water director Karen Flournoy.  We gave the letter to Brooks’ staff at this meeting and did not publicly release a copy of the letter until 9am February 12, nearly 19 hours after our meeting with EPA ended.

DNR Director Chuck Gipp said CCI members always made clean water a partisan issue, and pointed out that few of our legislative demands were met by former Iowa Governor Chet Culver when Democrats controlled all three branches of state government.

Iowa CCI members agree with Director Gipp that Democrats are nearly as bad on this issue as Republicans and that neither political party is doing enough to stand up for clean water and crack down on factory farm pollution.  This is a nonpartisan problem, and CCI members come from all walks of life and include rural and urban Democrats, Republicans, and independents.

DNR Director Gipp said “there is no such thing as a factory farm”. 

Iowa CCI members say a factory farm can be loosely defined as any confinement or open feedlot holding more than 500 animal units, large enough to require a Manure Management Plan by the state of Iowa, where animals are typically owned by out-of-state corporations, where the operation is highly mechanized and automated, giant quantities of toxic manure are stored, where the operator must sign a contract with the integrator detailing how the operation will be run, and local folks have little to no say about the zoning or siting of the facility.

CCI members remind Director Gipp that the term “factory farm” also includes all medium and large-scale Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations, or CAFOs, as defined by federal law.

When asked if he agreed with CCI’s claim there have been 600 manure spills in the last ten years, DNR Director Gipp responded by replying “it depends on what you call a spill.”

Iowa CCI members compiled our documented list of 600 manure spills by filing a Freedom of Information Act Request with the Iowa DNR, where we eventually obtained copies of DNR “manure release reports”.  All “manure releases” as defined by the DNR, are illegal discharges of manure under Iowa law.

DNR Director Gipp claimed that CCI members labeled him one of the “Dirty 4” nearly 20 years ago.

In 2001, CCI members labeled Gipp one of the “Factory Farm Four” because of his long voting record to reduce and rollback citizen input and public oversight over the corporate factory farm industry.  Gipp served in the Iowa House of Representatives from 1990 to 2009 and was the majority leader in the Iowa House from 2003–2007.

  • In 1995, Gipp voted for H.F. 519 – a bill signed into law by then-governor Branstad that essentially rolled out the welcome mat for factory farm expansion in Iowa.
  • In 1997 and 1998, Gipp voted to outlaw local control ordinances and centralize decision-making authority with the state, expand the ability of corporations to purchase farmland and raise livestock, and grant immunity from fines and penalties to documented polluters.
  • In 2003, Gipp voted to rollback clean air rules, strip the DNR of its power to write ambient air quality standards, strengthen nuisance lawsuit protections for corporations, and expand the industry’s ability to build factory farms in environmentally-sensitive areas like flood plains and on karst soil.
  • In 2004, Gipp voted to legalize factory farm air pollution by creating a weak regulatory framework for air quality standards.
  • In 2005, Gipp voted to undermine law enforcement and corporate accountability by making it harder to refer habitual factory farm polluters to the Attorney General, and obstruct DNR rulemaking by making it easier for big-moneyed corporations to stop or stall rulemaking.
  • In 2006, Gipp voted to gut DNR’s authority to deny or modify a factory farm construction permit or manure management plan, empower the state legislature to stop or stall executive branch rulemaking, weaken manure management laws, and discourage and penalize citizen input by silencing everyday people who speak out against factory farm pollution.
  • In 2008, Gipp voted for a $23 million taxpayer-funded odor study that would stall action on mandatory and enforceable clean air standards and force Iowa citizens to foot the bill.

Other members of the “Factory Farm 4” – who were immortalized on a giant poster still hanging inside the CCI statewide headquarters in Des Moines – are former Senate Majority Leader Stewart Iverson (R-Clarion), former Senate President Mary Kramer (R-West Des Moines), and former Iowa Representative Christopher Rants (R-Sioux City).

When responding to CCI members claims that the DNR is not being transparent with the results of its new inspection protocols, Director Gipp stated that new inspection records are publicly accessible at Iowa DNR’s six field offices and that the DNR was working on creating a new electronic database for the information.

Having to travel to field offices scattered across Iowa and dig through thousands of files to find inspection reports is not acceptable.  A new, online database must be finished immediately and must be easily accessible by the public.  Existing Iowa DNR databases, particularly the DNR’s “Animal Feeding Operation” database, “Hazardous Spill” database, and “Fish Kill” database, are not user-friendly, information is very difficult to find and compile, and records are often incomplete and missing.

A new inspections database must list very clearly and plainly, which factory farms were inspected, including the full facility ID number, integrator-owner, and address, what month the inspections were conducted, and provide clickable links to the DNR’s written investigation reports and conclusions.  This database must be updated at least once a month.  A list of upcoming and scheduled inspections should also be included.

DNR Director Gipp claimed a November 4 manure spill at Maschhoff Pork’s Keosauqua Sow Unit did not reach a waterway.

This is not correct.  The Iowa DNR investigation report clearly states that the manure impacted a water of the state of Iowa and reached a tributary of the Des Moines river.

Furthermore, the Maschhoff spill was only one of three in a three month span from October 31, 2013 to January 20, 2014 that involved an underground pipe breaking when liquid manure was being pumped from an underground, shallow pit, to a deeper lagoon or other concrete manure storage structure.  These types of incidents are extremely common in Iowa going back years, particularly at older factory farms using outdated technology like open pit lagoons, yet nothing in the DNR’s inspections protocols or in their draft permitting rules addresses these danger factors.

A full detailing of these three case studies over just three short months is included below, in order of most recent to least recent.

On January 20, an Iowa Select factory farm near Dows on the Wright/Franklin County line that confines 16,000 nursery pigs, spilled up to 1000 gallons of liquid manure into a tile line that leads directly into the Iowa River.  The spill occurred when a pipe broke during the pumping of liquid manure from the shallow pits beneath the buildings into an open-air lagoon located nearby.  The DNR was unable to take water samples because of ice but still gave Iowa Select the okay to spread manure water on snow and frozen-covered ground, which will likely runoff as soon as temperatures rise.  The Iowa Select factory farm was built in 1994 and was last inspected by the DNR on April 29, 2013 and given a clean bill of health to continue operating.  Many of the issues documented in the 2013 inspection were problems that were also reported in a 2010 inspection, but never fixed.  The operation was previously owned by DeCoster Farms.

On November 4, 2013, a Maschhoff Pork factory farm near Keosauqua in Van Buren County that confines 7,500 sows spilled thousands of gallons of manure into a tributary of the Des Moines River, the fourth manure spill at that location in six years.  The spill occurred when a pipe broke during the pumping of liquid manure from the shallow pits beneath the buildings into an open-air lagoon located nearby.  Maschhoff’s Keosauqua Sow Unit was first built in 1997 and had a DNR inspection in August of 2013.

At least one other Maschhoff factory farm in Iowa had a manure spill in 2013 and CCI members in Center Point in Linn County have been fighting new Maschhoff construction for the last two years.

On October 31, 2013, a Roanoke factory farm near Coon Rapids in Audubon County spilled five thousand gallons of manure into an unnamed tributary of the Middle Raccoon River.  The spill occurred when a pipe broke during the pumping of liquid manure from an underground pit into a second underground pit located nearby.

Roanoke LLC is owned by the Audubon County Veterinarians, who also had another manure spill at one of their factory farms in Audubon county on October 26.

The Roanoke spill was never publicly acknowledged by the DNR and CCI staff only became aware of the spill and were able to investigate it because a CCI member lives across the road from the confinement.  Many CCI members active in our Clean Water Act campaign live within a few miles of all three of these factory farms.

In response to criticism about the DNR not issuing adequate fines and penalties, DNR Director Gipp pointed to a recent consent agreement with Maschhoff Pork that included a $10,000 fine.

The DNR rarely issues a fine this stiff and CCI members believe it was done in this case only because of the intense amount of public pressure surrounding a threat of a citizen lawsuit by CCI members and allies like the Environmental Integrity Project.  Furthermore, the DNR to date has failed to issue a Clean Water Act permit to this facility.

As another example, a CCI member in Northeast Iowa had their farm pond polluted by runoff from a 10,000-head mixed cattle confinement and feedlot last April and the facility has not been issued a single penny in fines or penalties, nor have they been required to obtain a Clean Water Act permit.

EPA Region 7 Administrator Karl Brooks said the Iowa DNR is making progress on meeting their new Clean Water Act work plan obligations but that challenges remain.

Iowa CCI members reiterate our position that the DNR’s implementation of the Clean Water Act work plan has been poor and marked by botched inspections, weak draft permitting rules, and a lack of stiff fines and penalties.  Furthermore, the DNR has failed to provide all relevant details about their progress in a timely and transparent manner.

Iowa CCI members will continue to audit DNR records, monitor manure spills, and take appropriate action in every corner of the state to clean up our water and hold factory farm polluters and the government regulators who enable them accountable.

Factory farms are not the “smell of money,” but the polluting stench of corporate ag.

 

These giant hog factory corporations take the profits and leave our local communities with the problems – lower property values, damaged to our roads and bridges, and more polluted water ways.

 

Behind almost all of the new and expanding factory farms across the state are a small handful of giant hog factory corporations:

 

Prestage Farms

Based in North Carolina, Prestage Farms is the fifth largest hog corporation in the country with 165,000 sows. They have more than 100 factory farms across the state, including 10 sites already in Poweshiek County where they are trying to build or expand.

Iowa Select Farms

Based in Iowa Falls, Iowa Select Farms is the sixth largest hog corporation in the country with 160,000 sows, with a history of environmental and permit violations here in Iowa. They are looking to do a massive expansion in Northeast Iowa.

Cargill

Based in Minnesota, Cargill is one of the largest privately held corporations in the world. It’s the eighth largest hog corporation in the country with 123,000 sows, slaughtering more than 10 million hogs each year. In addition to backing factory farm construction, they own feed mills and pork processing facilities.

You will rarely see Cargill’s name on a construction permit, but if you do a little digging you will find that they are behind some of the most aggressive factory farm expansion in the state.  We have heard they are looking to expand at least 30 sites in Southeast Iowa alone.

 

Think about the numbers: We can conservatively estimate that each sow farrows 20 pigs a year. That helps put Prestage’s 165,000 sows a year in perspective.

 

Our factory farm organizing is as much about confronting corporate power as it is helping everyday Iowans protect our environment and stand up for their quality of life. We need to strong policies, regulations and economy that benefits the common good not just corporate interests.

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