Iowa CCI in the ’90s

Fighting factory farms and corporate ag


In the late early ‘90s, Iowa’s countryside began to change.

Factory farm corporations moved in and began to concentrate thousands of hogs and their millions of gallons of manure next to long held family farmsteads.

These giant agribusiness corporations, attempting to maximize their profits, pushed family farmers out of business, uprooted local social structures and threatened our quality of life and environment.

Iowa CCI helped farmers and rural residents organize to stop factory farm construction, stand up for clean air and clean water, and fight for policies that put the common good ahead of corporate greed.  This became a key Iowa CCI issue that built the organization across the state.

In the ’90s we:

  • Stopped factory farms at the local and statewide levels:
    • Stopped over four dozen factory farms from being built or expanded, passed county ordinances, and pushed the Department of Natural Resources to issue fines and penalties.
    • Won a DNR rule requiring public disclosure of hog factories’ manure management plans, a tool that has helped us stop factory farms from building. Groups like the Iowa Pork Producers and the Iowa Farm Bureau fought this rule tooth and nail.
  • Took on corporate concentration in agriculture:
    • Willie Nelson joined CCI and the Campaign for Family Farms and the Environment (CFFE) for a protest at the National Pork Producers Council, one of our first actions to take on the corporate players behind the growth of factory farms in Iowa and across the Midwest.
    • Collected over 19,000 hog farmer signatures, as part of the CFFE, calling for a national vote to end the mandatory pork checkoff  (“Pork, the other white meat”). The New York Times called our pork checkoff fight “one of the major battles in American farming.”


Reclaiming neighborhoods from drug dealers


In the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, drug dealers began setting up shop in many older neighborhoods. Once quiet communities became 24-hour drive-thrus and erupted in gunfire.

Iowa CCI helped neighbors drive drug dealers off their streets and gave people a way to anonymously report drug activity, leading to dozens of arrests.

Soon, Iowa CCI members held neighborhood marches and, in true acts of courage, sat in lawn chairs in front of dealers’ houses. They wrote down license plate numbers and sent letters to the car owners, warning them not to buy drugs in their area.

Iowa CCI helped everyday people stand up and reclaim their neighborhoods, and attracted national attention, including a meeting with U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno.

In the ’90s we:

  • Won passage of a state Drug Free Zone law that increases penalties for drug dealing and possession within 1,000 feet of a school, park, public recreation center or school bus stop.
  • Won passage of a Specified Crime Property Ordinance in Des Moines and Waterloo that establishes fines for landlords who fail to take action against drug dealers in their buildings.
  • Developed a neighborhood patrol to stop drug dealing faced by children on their way to and from school.


>>Read more about our work in the ’90s here.