Is It Possible To Fight Factory Farming And Retain “Iowa Nice”?

Say what you will about CCI, there is no other grassroots group that we know of fighting factory farms in Iowa.

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR)  issued a formal response yesterday to a July investigative report by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that was highly critical of DNR’s factory farm enforcement program for:

  •  Failing to issue permits to factory farms when required,
  •  Not having an adequate factory farm inspection program,
  • Frequently failing to act in response to manure spills and other environmental violations,
  • Not assessing adequate fines and penalties when violations occur, and
  • State setback distances for manure application not meeting  federal requirements.

In their response, which you can read here, the DNR promised to:

  • Initiate new rulemaking beginning November 1, 2012 to bring Iowa into compliance with the federal Clean Water Act
  • Ask the state legislature for more funding to hire 13 new full-time field staff,
  • Develop a plan to inspect every factory farm in the state of Iowa, and
  • Change other protocols and procedures to bring Iowa’s program up to par with federal standards.

The DNR’s reply is a major victory for Iowa CCI members like you and our allies at the Environmental Integrity Project and the Iowa Sierra Club who have been pushing this issue for years.  But the proof is going to be in the pudding.

The DNR is promising a lot of big things, but we know from past experience that the DNR only acts when they are forced to by outside pressure – by people like you.

And all the new rules in the world won’t mean much if the DNR lacks the will – and the money – to enforce the law.

For now, take stock in the fact that all your hard work is paying off.  You are making a big difference on the issues that matter most.  But we can’t afford to lay back on our laurels and wait for change to just come to us.  We have to continue to be engaged in the public discussion moving forward if we want our vision of a more just and democratic Iowa that puts people first to be realized.

Here are three upcoming opportunities for you to take a stand for clean air and clean water:

Tuesday, September 18 – speakout at the Environmental Protection Commission (EPC) against industry attempts to end a 5-year ban on spreading liquid manure on soybeans and reduce fees for groundwater permit applications by factory farms.  9am-noon.  Meet at the CCI statewide headquarters, 2001 Forest Avenue, Des Moines at 9am and we will carpool to the EPC meeting at 10am.  Public comment starts at 10:30am.

Tuesday, October 16 – speakout at the EPC meeting against attempts by the Iowa Association of Business and Industry to gut factory farm enforcement rules.  9am-noon.

Thursday, October 18 – CCI meeting with Karl Brooks, Region 7 Administrator, U.S. EPA. Iowa State Historical Society Museum, Des Moines.  6:30pm-9pm.


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