Bruce Rastetter has applied to build a 4,999 head factory farm about 2 miles North of Williams.  This factory farm alone will add 1,642,172 gallons of manure into our watershed.

Hamilton County already has 212 medium or large factory farms.

Enough is enough. 

Agribusiness corporations like Summit Farms get the profits—we get the pollution.

Factory farms lower our property values, kick independent family farmers out of business, pollute our water and air, and tear our communities apart.

Our air, water, and communities are more important than Bruce Rastetter’s profits.

Take Action Now!!!!

  1. Send an email to the Hamilton County Supervisors asking them to take points off the Master Matrix.
  2. Join us on Tuesday, March 6 @ 6:00 pm at the Williams Fire Station on Locust Street for a community planning meeting.

When we stand together, organize, and fight back against greedy proposal like these, we win.


Click the link below to read CCI’s full objections to the Rastetter – Williams 15 factory farm application.

Rastetter Objection+cover letter+enclosures





Last month, we heard from our friends at the Oakland Institute that the government of Tanzania announced that it finally intends to deliver on its 2008 promise of citizenship to tens of thousands of Burundian refugees!

Many of these people would have been displaced by Bruce Rastetter’s love of big money.

Rastetter is no stranger to Iowa CCI. We started fighting his Heartland Pork factory farms in the late 90’s. He has continued to make his big money mark, starting and selling ethanol plants under his Hawkeye Renewables, and with his Agrisol effort to displace thousands of refugees and local farmers for profits from corporate agriculture.

For years, Bruce Rastetter tried to use his influence as an Iowa Regent to get ISU’s backing and involvement in a Tanzanian land grab. The proposal to lease tens of thousands of acres for $.25 acre for 99 years would have displaced tens of thousands of refugees and local farmers in Tanzania. Why? Rastetter’s Agrisol company wanted bring monoculture farming, ethanol, and factory farms to another part of the globe.

He tried to acquire ISU’s backing, but they cut all ties, as did the USDA. You helped expose his conflict of interest as a regent and collected thousands of signatures demanding his resignation. While he was not forced to resign, his unethical behavior and big money interests were brought to the attention of the greater public. The land grab was ultimately stopped!


Check out the timeline of events below:

2007: Rastetter donates $1.7 million to ISU

2008: Rastetter begins talks with Tanzanian government

2009: Collaboration between ISU and AgriSol begins

2010: Rastetter is the single biggest donor to the Branstad campaign, giving more than $164,000.


February 25: Branstad appoints Rastetter to Board of Regents

May 1: Rastetter’s term begins: he should have recused himself from discussions of an ISU partnership with AgriSol at this point.

May 18: Rastetter finances a $13,000 trip for ISU officials to Tanzania

June 14: Des Moines Register publishes AgriSol expose

June 17: Rastetter discloses his financial interest in AgriSol to the public

July: Rastetter elected President Pro Tem of Board of Regents

September 13: Rastetter finally recuses himself from discussions of partnering with ISU — four months after he becomes a Regent.

September 26: Dan Rather reports on AgriSol


February: ISU cuts all ties to Tanzania project

April 24: Rastetter files a false financial disclosure report with the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board

June 19: Iowa CCI members file a conflict of interest complaint against Rastetter with the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board.

Read more here.


Join the fight




Factory Farm Proposal By Branstad Donor & EPC Appointtee Would Sit Between Two Creeks That Feed Into The Des Moines River Two Miles Away

Woodward –

As most Iowans prepare to celebrate Independence Day, dozens of Boone county residents are preparing to defend their rights to clean air and clean water from corporate factory farm pollution.

Last Tuesday, over 20 Boone County CCI members met on a farm outside Woodward to plan how to stop a giant hog confinement that would house 2,480 corporate hogs and produce over 630,000 gallons of toxic liquid manure annually in the already impaired Des Moines River watershed that helps provide drinking water for 500,000 Central Iowans.

The factory farm would be operated by Dallas County resident Brodie Brelsford but the facility would actually be built by Brent Rastetter, a top political donor to Governor Terry Branstad and a Branstad-appointee to the Environmental Protection Commission (EPC).  The submitted Manure Management Plan does not state what corporation will actually own the hogs.

Mark Edwards, retired DNR Trails Coordinator said: “I’m very concerned about the impacts from this factory farm and other factory farms affecting the expanding recreational economy related to the High Trestle Bridge and the master plan to develop other trails along the Des Moines River in Boone County.”

Jan Danielson, another nearby neighbor and CCI member said:  “We live on a century farm that has been in my husband’s family for over 100 years.  It’s our legacy. I want it to be a beautiful pristine place, like it is now, in 20 years when I can give it to my children and grandchildren.

Danielle Wirth, PhD, a CCI member, neighbor, and Environmental Science Professor at Drake University, said:  “One of our biggest concerns if this factory farm builds are the environmental impacts.  This site sits in between Eversol Creek and Catum Branch Creek which meet up with the Des Moines River less than 2 miles away.  This site could have a direct impact on the Des Moines Water Works ability to keep Des Moines residents water safe to drink.”

Boone County CCI members plan to meet with Brodie Brelsford on Monday, July 7 at 6:30 pm in the Cass Township Community Building, 1403 315th Street, Woodward, IA.

Iowa CCI members are in the middle of a seven-year campaign to enforce the Clean Water Act against Iowa factory farms and has called on Environmental Protection Commission member Brent Rastetter to recuse himself from an upcoming vote on new Clean Water Act rules because of a conflict of interest.  Rastetter owns Quality Ag, Inc as well as factory farms housing more than 9,000 hogs.

Local CCI members in several Central Iowa counties have fought new factory farm construction by Rastetter in the last two years.

There have been more than 728 manure spills since 1996 and Iowa currently has at least 630 polluted waterways.  Iowa’s more than 20 million hogs produce nearly 10 billion gallons of toxic waste every year.

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.

 Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement is a group of everyday people who talk, act and get things done on issues that matter most. With thousands of members from all walks of life — urban and rural, black and white, immigrants and lifelong Iowans — CCI has been tackling tough issues and getting things done for more than 39 years. 

 For more information, visit

Academic freedom under corporate attack

Iowa Regent Bruce Rastetter, embroiled in fourth corporate scandal, has to go


Bruce Rastetter, one of Governor Branstad’s biggest political donors, is back in the news again for abusing his position as an Iowa Regent by continuing to put corporate interests ahead of the common good.

This time he’s making headlines for interfering with independent academic research at the University of Iowa.

An ethanol industry lobbyist complained to the Branstad administration after a UI professor named Jerald Schnoor publicly warned against ethanol expansion because of water quality concerns. Rastetter responded by asking UI president Sally Mason to, in effect, silence the professor.  To read more details about the story, try herehere, or here.

These abuses of power have to stop.  Enough is enough. Rastetter needs to go.

The Board of Regents has been mired in scandal for the last nine months and Rastetter has been involved every step of the way:

  • Last summer, CCI members filed an ethics complaint against Bruce Rastetter after emails showed that Rastetter tried to use his regent connections to push Iowa State University into backing a land grab in Tanzania by Rastetter’s private multinational corporation, AgriSol.
  • Last fall, the Board of Regents also hired Rastetter’s personal lobbyist and public relations officer, Joe Murphy, to become ISU’s new university lobbyist – without publishing the job opening, conducting an open search, or following the university’s diversity-in-hiring guidelines.
  • Last month, Senator Tom Harkin chose not to leave 40 years of congressional papers at his alma mater, Iowa State University, because of repeated attempts by Lang and Rastetter to limit the academic freedom of the Tom Harkin Institute of Public Policy.

Our public officials should work for the common good, not to advance a corporate agenda.

Take Action


Join the Fight


 Click LIKE or TWEET if you think it’s time for Rastetter to go.




Des Moines Register columnist knocks it out of the park with this article.

7:49 PM, Aug 25, 2012 | Written by Rekha Basu
Online at:

The meeting room at Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement was packed Tuesday evening, as a guest from California told a crowd of farmers, mothers, academics, retirees and others that Tanzanians were looking to Iowa to see if they can trust democracy. “I never thought mobilization in Iowa would happen,” said an emotional Anuradha Mittal.

It was Mittal’s nonprofit Oakland Institute that first investigated Iowa Board of Regents member Bruce Rastetter and his AgriSol company’s plans to develop about 800,000 acres of land in East Africa. That led to an accusation that Rastetter was using his influence to get Iowa State University involved in a lucrative business deal that would force the eviction of some 165,000 refugee farmers, and turn farmland that should be used to feed people into an agribusiness scheme for outside investors. Journalist Dan Rather called it a land grab, and here in Iowa, it caught the attention of the grass-roots CCI, which filed an ethics complaint against Rastetter with the state.

On the eve of that hearing, CCI members were upbeat. But it was a starkly different atmosphere Thursday inside the state ethics board hearing room. The board listened to CCI’s conflict-of-interest claims and then to Rastetter’s attorney, who called them politically motivated and said a distinguished public official had been “besmirched.

After a closed-door session, board president James Albert returned with assurances about the board’s independence. But in dismissing CCI’s complaint, he made little secret of his disdain for it, saying it reflected “a profound misunderstanding of Iowa law” and admonishing the group for not citing the right code chapter — which they had done in an amended version.

Interestingly, the board had no criticism of Rastetter for filing an amended financial disclosure statement just that week, so that his occupation, first listed as “farmer, self employed” was amended to CEO of Summit Farms (which includes AgriSol Energy). It ruled that didn’t rise to the level of false or fraudulent.

It also challenged the idea that Rastetter used his influence over ISU, since he didn’t actually vote on the land deal as a regent. Of course, influence can be exerted in more casual ways, simply by virtue of one’s position of authority over those with whom one is doing business

There is room for interpretation, and the board’s ruling could be squared with the laws under which it operates. But the adversarial way in which its president seemed to approach the citizen group that had sought redress from it was puzzling. Everyone listened in pin-drop silence as Albert spoke. After he finished, CCI member Barb Kalbach asked to speak. Instead of a friendly, “I’m sorry, Barb, we don’t allow that, but you’re welcome to give a statement outside,” Albert angrily silenced her, setting up a confrontation. She continued to speak, and he tried to drown her out, pounding the table and declaring the session closed so that the room was swiftly cleared.

Was that necessary? Shouldn’t citizens be encouraged to bring their grievances before the panel, even commended for using institutional avenues of redress? Would another complainant, say a newspaper publisher or a foundation CEO, have been treated that way?

Beyond the attitude, an ethics board is only as good as the ethics laws that govern it — which, when it comes to influence-buying in America, are lacking. It isn’t actionable when a corporation that pumped money into lawmakers’ campaigns is rewarded with legislation favorable to it or its industry. It isn’t considered unethical to appoint people to public boards and commissions even when they have no relevant credentials, or worse — are close to those they’d oversee. Even nepotism gets a free pass in Des Moines schools.

The AgriSol/Tanzania deal involves many forces outside our control: globalization, corporatization of farming, potentially corrupt government officials collaborating on deals that don’t serve their people. But with an Iowa company at the center of it, we at least should have a right to know if our piece of it has integrity — and a responsibility to speak up if it doesn’t.


Click LIKE and SHARE if you think Rekha knocks it out of the park with this piece.


Newly Released USDA Documents Reveal Agrisol Tried to Use ISU to Get $7 Million Grant


Just days after the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board refused to investigate Iowa Regent Bruce Rastetter for conflict of interest violations, newly released documents reveal that he attempted to use a partnership with Iowa State University (ISU) to get U.S. government funding to establish his controversial agribusiness project in Tanzania.

Working with ISU faculty, Rastetter’s company AgriSol applied in 2011 for more than $7 million in taxpayer dollars as part of a program run by the United State Department of Agriculture (USDA).

“The Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board may not get it, but it’s clear that Rastetter has tried to pull every string he can to get his corporate land grab off the ground,” says Lori Nelson, a CCI Board Member from Bayard, Iowa.  “It’s outrageous that he tried using the good name of ISU to get U.S. taxpayers and poor Tanzanians to pay his start-up costs.”

The $7 million AgriSol sought from the USDA program would be delivered as supplies of food aid, which AgriSol or its affiliate would sell in Tanzania. The AgriSol application explains that the proceeds from the food sales would help with infrastructure and start up costs for an industrial agribusiness project in Tanzania, which could displace thousands of refugees.

Emails obtained by Food & Water Watch through the Freedom of Information Act show that some inside USDA were concerned about the application: “In fact it reads very much like an investment prospectus, as you can imagine,” said one email by an official of USDA’s Foreign Agriculture Service.

The USDA ultimately denied Agrisol’s application for funding in fiscal year 2012.

Presenting the project as a humanitarian effort to develop agriculture in Tanzania, AgriSol promotes the involvement of ISU in the application and involved ISU agronomy Professor Mark Westgate—even though ISU officially backed out of the USDA application process in mid-September 2011, citing potential conflict of interest concerns with Rastetter. Professor Westgate personally met with the USDA on AgriSol’s behalf then helped submit the USDA application, using his official ISU email address.

“It’s bad enough that an Iowa Regent keeps trying to drag ISU into his business enterprises,” Nelson said. “But now even though Rastetter describes himself as a self-reliant farmer, these documents show that he wanted U.S. taxpayers and poor Tanzanians to foot the bill for setting up his profit-making enterprise.”

“This latest revelation is just one more reason it’s time for Rastetter to be held accountable,” said Matt Ohloff, Iowa organizer for Food & Water Watch.  “CCI and Food & Water Watch members will continue to call for Rastetter to resign from the Board of Regents.”

Copies of select documents obtained from the USDA can be found here:

Join the fight

 Click LIKE and TWEET if you agree it’s time for Rastetter to resign