At Public Hearing, Center Point Residents Will Demand Local, State Government Action To Stop New Factory Farm Construction

On Monday, June 17, dozens of Center Point and other Linn county residents will stand up for clean air, clean water, and a rural economy that puts people first and testify against new factory farm construction in their community proposed by Matt Ditch and an out-of-state corporation, Maschoff Pork.

Last Fall, the Linn County Board of Supervisors recommended that the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (Iowa DNR)  deny a construction permit for the Ditch/Maschoff factory farm based on community comment, air, water, property, and quality of life concerns, and because Ditch and Maschoff did not score enough points on the Master Matrix.

Ditch and Maschoff resubmitted their permit application last month, with one major change: they are now claiming they don’t have to score a Master Matrix at all because they are expanding an existing confinement.  The new proposal will house up to 4,180 hogs, nearly double the normal threshold requiring a matrix score.

State law allows an existing confinement to expand beyond normal thresholds without a Master Matrix if the original facility was built before 2003.   But, the 300-head operation Ditch claims he is expanding has been run as an open feedlot, with access to the outdoors to finish hogs, since 1996.  In addition, the original site is not owned by Matt Ditch, but by his father, Ken.

“We believe Matt Ditch and Maschoff Pork are deliberately putting forth a bogus interpretation of state law in an attempt to avoid common-sense and very basic public oversight,” said Regina Behmlander, an Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (Iowa CCI) member who lives outside Center Point and could be directly impacted by the proposed factory farm.

Some Linn county supervisors have indicated they also do not believe Ditch and Maschoff quality for the loophole for these two reasons.

“What they are doing is wrong, it’s wrong, “said Deb Theisen, another local CCI member directly impacted by the proposal.  “We are going to send Linn County and the Iowa DNR a strong message today.  They have the power to stop this and we won’t take no for an answer.”

Guthrie and Tama counties both recommended the DNR deny similar factory farm construction last week after local Iowa CCI members mobilized community opposition to the proposals.

Iowa has more than 628 polluted waterways and 800 documented manure spills, according to DNR records.  The DNR has refused to sign a workplan with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to begin inspecting and permitting Iowa’s 8,000 factory farms.

Giant Factory Farm Proposal Near White Rock Conservatory in Raccoon River Watershed Draws Community Opposition

 Guthrie County CCI members directly impacted by proposal documented flaws in the Master Matrix application

 

The Guthrie County Board of Supervisors voted 3-0 today to recommend that the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) deny a construction permit to a giant factory farm proposed by Brushy Creek Farms, LLC that would have been built near the impaired Brushy Creek, a tributary to the polluted Raccoon River, and two miles from the White Rock Conservatory.

Guthrie County-based members of Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (Iowa CCI) identified flaws in the permit application and Master Matrix that formed the basis for the county’s denial recommendation.  Iowa CCI is a statewide community action group that uses community organizing as a strategy to build grassroots power and win public policy that puts people first.

“I’m surrounded by 5,000 corporate hogs and this area is the only place left near me that I can ride my horses and still smell sweet air,” said Lori Nelson, a CCI member from Bayard, Iowa.  “These factory farms have forced me out of my own home and my own property and I’m here today to demand you stop them from pushing me out of my own county, too”.

The Iowa DNR has 30 days from receipt of the county’s letter to make a determination on the case.  If the DNR objects to the county’s recommendation, Guthrie county may appeal to the Environmental Protection Commission, a public oversight board stacked by Governor Branstad with factory farm insiders like Gene Ver Steeg and Brent Rastetter.

Earlier this week, Tama County recommended the DNR deny a factory farm owned by Iowa Regent President Bruce Rastetter.  Local Tama County-based CCI members led the campaign.  CCI members on the border of Story and Marshall county also convinced a local developer working with Cargill to cancel his plans to build a giant factory farm near State Center, Iowa.

Factory farm pollution in the Raccoon River has drawn statewide attention in recent weeks after Des Moines Water Works announced it had turned on a $3.6 million nitrate removal system because nitrate levels in the Raccoon and Des Moines Rivers were too high to meet federal standards.  The system costs $7,000 a day to run, a cost imposed on 500,000 customers in Central Iowa.

Iowa has more than 628 polluted waterways and 800 documented manure spills, according to DNR records.  The DNR has refused to sign a workplan with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to begin inspecting and permitting Iowa’s 8,000 factory farms.