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.