April 14, 2017

Today, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) released its bi-annual impaired waters report required by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The report found that out of 1,378 waterbodies tested over half are impaired. The list jumped from 736 impaired waterbodies in 2014 to 750 impaired waterbodies in 2016.

Since the Nutrient Reduction Strategy (NRS) was created, Iowa has not seen a reduction in the number of impaired waterbodies. The report demonstrates that Iowa’s NRS is a colossal failure and that the factory farm industry is a major contributor to Iowa’s water pollution crisis.

Iowa’s NRS has a goal of reducing Nitrate and Phosphorus pollution entering the Mississippi River by 45% with no deadline marking success or failure, and farmers are asked to voluntarily implement practices that reduce pollution. But members of Iowa CCI say a voluntary program that doesn’t address the expanding factory farm industry and has no meaningful monitoring, accountability, or enforcement is destined to fail.

In 2012, Iowa had 30,622,700 acres of farmland, but less than 2% of that land had in-field or edge-of-field nutrient management practices, according to the 2015-2016 Annual NRS Report. $112 million was spent in 2015 and $122 million was spent in 2016 to implement the strategy. This shows that investing in a voluntary strategy does not produce results.

“At this rate, we’ll never have water that we can swim in, drink from, or fish in. Voluntary does not work. No industry has ever successfully regulated itself. Big Ag corporations will always put corporate profits and yields above our water quality,” said Barb Kalbach, a CCI member and 4th generation family farmer from Dexter.  “The only way we’ll begin to clean up Iowa’s water is if the legislature passes meaningful, enforceable rules and regulations and make polluters pay the cost.”

The impaired waters report states the top three causes of impairments in Iowa’s rivers and streams are bacteria, biological, and fish kills, which point to factory farm manure as a major polluter in Iowa.

Iowa has over 9,000 factory farms that produce more than 22 billion gallons of manure annually. According to an Iowa Policy Project report, there are only 15.75 FTE inspectors in the state, meaning the factory farm industry operates unregulated in nearly all aspects.

“This industry is out of control. It’s obvious that our legislature is working for the industry because we continue to see false solutions that kick the can down the road using public funds to cleanup corporate ag’s water pollution,” said Kalbach.

CCI members call on the Iowa Legislature and Governor to 1) pass mandatory, meaningful regulations, 2) force Big Ag corporations to pay for the cost of clean-up, and 3) pass a moratorium on new/expanding factory farms in Iowa.

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.

In late October we put out a call for you to write letters to the editor to help advance our narrative around factory farming and the environment.  We want to make sure our legislators hear loud and clear that:

  • Farming practices that protect our water should be mandatory – voluntary compliance does not work.
  • Big Ag polluters (like Cargill, Prestage, Farm Bureau, and Monsanto) must pay to clean up the water quality mess they’ve created – not taxpayers.
  • Every factory farm in Iowa needs a Clean Water Act permit, meaningful inspections, and tough fines and penalties when violations occur.
  • Iowa needs a factory farm moratorium now!


Wow!  You knocked it out of the park.  Check out these spot-on letters that were submitted by CCI members from around the state.

DNR’s changes to factory farm rules is wrong – Joyce Bollhoefer – Marshalltown Times Republican

CAFO regulations need changing – Tom Willett – Mason City Globe Gazette

EPC changes will make water quality worse – Bernie Fischlowitz-Roberts – Des Moines Register

How, exactly, will sales tax improve water quality? – Erich Riesenberg – Des Moines Register

To Branstad: put moratorium on new hog confinements – Eric Wessels – Des Moines Register

Branstad, Republican-controlled legislature are Iowa’s ruin – Jim Walters – Iowa City Press Citizen


This is one way we can shift the narrative and it’s not to late to add your name to the list of letter writers!

  1. Submit a letter to the editor to your local paper and send a copy to jess@iowacci.org.
  2. Let us know if there’s a letter that we missed.  Send an email to jess@iowacci.org

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This morning Wright County Supervisors voted 3-0 to approve the Prestage Slaughterhouse proposal in spite of strong local and statewide opposition.  CCI members say now it is more important than ever to fight for a moratorium on new or expanding factory farms until Iowa has less than 100 polluted waterways.

“I’m not done fighting for clean air, clean water, strong communities, and for the independent family farmer.  The Supervisors’ decision makes me want to fight harder than ever to stop the expansion of corporate ag in our state,” said Kathy Schnell, Belmond resident and CCI member.

Iowans across the state have been organizing since March to stop Prestage, an out-of-state corporation and the nation’s 5th largest hog producer, from building a 22,000 kill per day slaughter house.

In May clean water fighters organized and successfully pressured the Mason City City Council to deny the use of public money for Prestage which ultimately shut down the project.  This victory in Mason City shows that opposition to this polluting industry is growing.

“We’re not against agriculture – we’re against corporate ag’s system that traps farmers in a cycle of debt. We’re against agribusiness that puts their private profits above our communities and above our environment.  We can do better.  It’s time for big corporations like Prestage, Iowa Select, Monsanto, and others to get out of Iowa,” said CCI member and organizer Erica Blair.

CCI members say public taxpayer money should not be used to prop up a system of agriculture that pollutes our state.

Blair continued, “We will continue this fight by pushing for mandatory regulations that protect our communities and environment and demanding that corporate ag pay to clean up the pollution they create – not the taxpayers.