Tuesday in Calhoun County, County Supervisors appealed the Iowa Department of Natural Resources decision to permit Burr Oak Growers LLC.

Supervisors responded to efforts of Iowa CCI members who have been fighting to stop this factory farm because of water quality, air quality, and quality of life concerns. You held community planning meetings, gathered signatures, and contributed public testimony in opposition to out-of-state Burr Oak Growers LLC’s plan to expand factory farm operations in Iowa.

This was the first time the County Supervisors have voted to appeal an intent to permit by the DNR. The decision is a product of the inundation of factory farms in Calhoun County. There are already 164 factory farms in the county.

On Sunday, July 1, a day after thousands of Iowans stood in solidarity with immigrant families at the border for a national day of action to #KeepFamiliesTogether, Senate File 481 (SF481) officially became Iowa law. The law requires local entities – specifically police – to work more closely with federal immigration agencies like ICE.

The bill was denounced by immigrants and allies during the past two legislative sessions, stating it promoted racial profiling and made Iowa less safe for all people.

“In the past year, ICE activity in Iowa has increased by 67%. While all eyes are on the disastrous situation at the border, ICE continues to disrupt our communities and destroy Iowa families,” said Isabel Conn, an Iowa CCI member and domestic violence advocate. “It’s dangerous to force Iowa police and sheriffs to comply with a federal agency that acts without rules, regulations, or repercussions. Iowans will lose trust in their police, creating an even more dangerous situation for victims of crime.”

Iowa has already seen a glimpse of the dangers of this law in Mt. Pleasant, where three levels of Iowa law enforcement – city police, county sheriffs, and state patrol – aided in a workplace raid without detailed information from ICE regarding the operation. First-hand reports stated police were dressed in full riot gear while a helicopter circled the concrete facility.

Here’s What SF481 Will Do

The law increases Immigration & Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) power in Iowa, including:

  • Increasing local/state law enforcement collaboration with ICE
  • Preventing local entities from restricting cooperation with ICE
  • Requiring local/state law enforcement to honor ICE detainer requests, a less formal version of a judicial warrant

By January 1st, all law enforcement agencies in Iowa will be forced to provide written policy regarding enforcement of immigration law as required by Senate File 481. 

Advocates say SF481 will be disastrous not only for undocumented Iowans, but also those with various status privileges like permanent residents, refugees, visa-holders, and recipients of programs like DACA and TPS. According to the administration, ICE is supposed to target criminals and violent offenders. However, the majority of detainees from Iowa’s only crime is re-entering the United States to reunite with their families.

“Every individual has rights in the United States, including immigrants in our communities,” said CCI immigrant rights organizer Madeline Cano. “But what we’ve been seeing in Iowa and across the country for years is a complete violation of an individual’s constitutional rights and denial of due process simply because an individual was born in Mexico or Central America.”

Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement members and immigrant rights allies across the state say they will continue fighting to repeal this unconstitutional law. In three community meetings held in late June attended by over 500 Iowans, Iowa CCI members and immigrant allies committed to provide ‘Know  Your Rights’ trainings, support families in need, and push local/state officials to make Iowa a welcoming place for all.

Here’s How We’re Fighting Back

  1. Repeal SF481

Bottom line – SF481 is bad public policy. It violates our constitutional rights, subjects law enforcement to profile communities, and holds public officials hostage by threatening funding. That’s why our main goal is to not only reject SF481 – but repeal it.

Meet with your local legislators. They represent us 365 days out of the year, not just during legislative session. Now is the time to sit down – face to face – with elected officials and demand that they publicly reject SF481 and commit to repealing it in 2019.

2. Keep families together

This law is destructive to its core. We’re not seeing violent criminals being removed from our communities. We’re seeing mothers, fathers, and families being targeted, detained, and deported. Many of whom have no previous criminal record other than a charge for trying to reunite with their families.

The long-term trauma caused by family separation is immeasurable.

Join a community response team. Iowa CCI, American Friends Service Committe, and other immigrant rights organizations have collaborated to form local response teams to help track ICE activity in their neighborhoods, work closely with impacted families, and prepare communities for potential raids.

Contact Berenice Nava-Romero at (515)274-4851 if you are interested in volunteering on a team.

3. Keep people out of jail

ICE has no power without the assistance of local law enforcement. ICE works to trap individuals when they have been arrested for misdemeanors or minor infractions through a detainer request. SF481 now requires all local law enforcement to honor these requests and to hold individuals in jail while ICE investigates them.

Meet with your local police and sheriff. It’s important to know where your local law enforcement departments stand on this issue. All departments will be required to have written policy stating how they plan to enforce immigration law by January 2019. Gather a group of your friends and set up a meeting with your police chief and county sheriff.

Contact Maddie Cano at (515)282-0484 if you are interested in setting up a meeting.

4. Report ICE

If you see something, say something. ICE operates in secret. They don’t want the public to know about their activity in Iowa. That’s why we must work to expose them.

Call our 24-7 bilingual hotline at (515)996-0003 to report any ICE activity in your neighborhood or if someone you know has been detained by ICE.

Through this hotline, we’ve been able to help dozens of families, utilize the data to track ICE patterns in Iowa, and keep people informed.

Stay tuned! A toolkit is on the way!

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.

 

The Des Moines city council is back pedaling.

After promising to get us their revised draft of the Welcoming City resolution — which they sat on for five months — they are now saying they don’t want to do it at all.

Instead all they want to pass is an inclusivity proclamation – a statement that has no substance, no action plan, and no real commitment to our community.

This ‘feel-good’ statement is not enough! Immigrant and refugee families in Des Moines cannot wait another day.

We’re asking you to fight back in two ways: 

1) Can you be at the city council meeting on Monday

We need as much community support as possible to stand with our immigrant and refugee neighbors and reject this proclamation. Welcoming City or BUST! 

Where: Richard A. Clark Municipal Building (1551 E. MLK Pkwy, Des Moines, IA 50309)

When: Monday, October 9th at 4:30pm

RSVP here –> we need you there with us! 

2) Call your city council representatives before Monday’s meeting!

Tell them this proclamation is not enough and ask them to support our immigrant/refugee communities – pass the Welcoming City resolution! Please let us know how your call(s) go.

Mayor Cownie – 515-255-3644
Skip Moore (At Large)- 515-681-9804
Chris Coleman (At Large)- 515-276-7644
Bill Gray (Ward 1) – 515-274-0077
Linda Westergaard (Ward 2) – 515-988-4288
Christine Hensley (Ward 3) – 515-255-4716
Joe Gatto (Ward 4) – 515-402-2626

Our communities don’t need empty promises, they need bold leadership and meaningful action. 

True to Iowa CCI style – we’re not backing down. We’ll see you on Monday!


P.S. The fact is we have almost no foundation support for this work. We’ve been able to dedicate organizational resources to this campaign thanks to support from folks like you. Donate, join, chip in here to keep the fight going strong!

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.

The Environmental Protection Commission denies petition to strengthen the factory farm permitting process 


Videography courtesy Rodger Routh

Des Moines, IA – Today at its monthly meeting, the Environmental Protection Commission (EPC) voted before a packed crowd to deny a rulemaking petition filed by Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement and Food & Water Watch to strengthen the master matrix – a tool in the factory farm permitting process. At the meeting, the commission received over 1,500 comments in support of the petition and nearly 100 Iowans showed up to tell the nine commissioners to strengthen the fifteen-year-old scoring system.

“I feel betrayed by the Environmental Protection Commission for voting against the people of Iowa today and deciding to do nothing to improve the factory farm permitting process,” said Rosie Partridge, CCI member from Sac County. “It is clear that the DNR and the EPC lack the political will to stand up to the factory farm industry and make these much-needed improvements for thousands of Iowans. Shame on them!”

Despite 17% of Iowa counties sending Letters of Support for the petition and/or passing resolutions that call for more protections from the factory farm industry, none of the eight commissioners present today voted to move forward with the rulemaking petition.

The denial was based on a recommendation by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), the agency overseen by the EPC. Rather than responding comprehensively to the detailed petition, the DNR cherry-picked just a few proposals to justify denying the entire petition outright – even though the department could have given its own revisions and recommendations on the proposal.

“This vote against strengthening the master matrix is a vote for increasing Big Ag’s profits at the expense of Iowans’ health and environment. The DNR clearly lacks the political will to fix its broken regulations, but we will continue to fight for commonsense regulations to hold factory farms accountable and protect rural communities,” said Tarah Heinzen, Staff Attorney at Food & Water Watch.

The master matrix is supposed to provide a comprehensive review of environmental and community risks, allowing counties to recommend denial of facilities that will have harmful impacts. But the matrix developed by the DNR has proven so easy to pass that it has amounted to little more than a rubber stamp: Applicants only need to satisfy enough of the listed criteria to obtain 50 percent of the available points – an “F” by most standards. DNR records show that only 2.2 percent of applications have been denied since the master matrix was created in 2002.

The petition asked 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.

“My private well is a perfect example of why we need to strengthen the master matrix. In just three years, my well’s nitrate level has risen from 8 parts per million to 12, and this summer it tested at 19, almost double the federal safe drinking water standard,” said Janis Elliott, CCI member from Warren County. “Over 300,000 Iowans rely on private wells. How many of us are drinking poison?”

Meeting attendees vowed to continue pressuring the EPC, DNR, Governor Reynolds, and the Iowa Legislature to crack down on the factory farm industry and finally address Iowa’s growing water crisis. Following the EPC meeting, CCI members delivered letters to Speaker of the House Linda Upmeyer, Senate Majority Leader Bill Dix, and Governor Reynolds putting them on notice to take action during the 2018 legislative session.

“We won’t stop fighting the corporate cronyism that pollutes Iowa’s water. Today was only the beginning,” said Nick Schutt, farmer and CCI member from Hardin County. “To fix the problem, we need to hold our elected officials accountable and make sure they stand with the people of Iowa. Governor Reynolds and Iowa legislators, we are putting you on notice. We will see you in January!”

The citizen letters demanded:

  • a moratorium on new and expanding factory farm construction;
  • local control over the siting of factory farms;
  • mandatory – not voluntary – regulations to clean up our water;
  • tough enforcement of existing regulations; and
  • a plan to make industrial ag pay to clean up the $5 billion pollution problem it has created.

“It’s clear – the master matrix is broken. In the face of more inaction by Iowa DNR, it is the duty of Iowa’s elected officials to stand with everyday people,” the letters read. “We need a farm and food system that works for farmers, workers, eaters and our environment  – not just industrial ag’s bottom line.”

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

Food & Water Watch champions healthy food and clean water for all. We stand up to corporations that put profits before people, and advocate for a democracy that improves people’s lives and protects our environment.

 

Learn more

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.