Help Is On The Way For Iowa CAFO Fighters

P.O. Box 811, Fairfield, IA 52556 • • • 641-209-6600

Nationally Known Environmental Attorney Charlie Speer from Kansas City Creates Legal Team with Jefferson County Attorney David Sykes to Fight Problematic CAFO’s In Iowa

Jefferson County Farmers & Neighbors’, Inc. (JFAN’s) legal counsel David Sykes from Fairfield, Iowa has formed a legal team with the nationally known environmental litigation trio of Charlie Speer, Richard Middleton, and Peter Bieri to take cases in Iowa.

Speer is an award-winning environmental attorney from Kansas City. He has been fighting factory farms for over 17 years, working with Peter Bieri from Kansas City, and the Savannah, Georgia-based Richard Middleton. The team is known for achieving numerous multi-million dollar awards for their clients.

The expanded legal team is now providing new legal opportunities for Iowans to pursue in addition to community organizing efforts. Cases that are evaluated and considered viable by the new legal team will typically be handled on a contingency fee basis, and the legal team will only be compensated if they win monetary damages for their clients.

Sykes is a general practice attorney who, for eight years, has worked behind the scenes with the JFAN, a Jefferson County organization that has been opposing CAFO’s. He’s been representing clients fighting CAFOs for the last five. Sykes will organize new cases from Iowa and work closely with Speer’s legal team as cases progress.

“The Speer legal team has a national reputation for taking on CAFO’s and winning. They have a passion about their work and feel deeply about their cases and clients,” says Sykes. “They currently have cases in seven states and have significant resources to go the distance with CAFO integrators, such as Cargill, Prestage, and others.”

The new Iowa legal team came together after a large group of residents approached Sykes to fight Valley View Swine, a 10,000-head hog confinement sited between the cities of Batavia and Eldon, Iowa. Sykes reached out to Speer, and after they met together with the group, the two lawyers decided to work jointly to fight this CAFO and to consider other cases in Iowa.

Sykes says he feels this new team is partially the result of JFAN’s efforts over the past eight years. JFAN is a 501 (c) (3) grassroots tax-exempt nonprofit educational foundation that has worked to protect the quality of life of Jefferson County from the proliferation of factory farms. It has curtailed the efforts of at least six CAFOs in the county since 2005.

“JFAN helped the Batavia and Eldon group to organize. It has knowledge, resources and experience in this area. JFAN has made connections throughout the state and country, and they bring all that energy and knowledge in when they help a group organize. All these building blocks, all that synergy…I think that is what helped to attract Speer,” he says.

Sykes says this new legal team has the potential to discourage CAFO operators from going ahead with a confinement. “Given the marginal return on CAFOs, the cost of a jury trial and the possibility of having to pay a large financial award is a daunting prospect,” he says.

“This gives Iowans who live in close proximity to an existing or proposed CAFO hope,” Sykes added. “This legal approach helps to level the playing field for rural communities that are not able to financially go head-to-head against the deep pockets of multi-million dollar factory farm-oriented corporations. In addition to community organizing, Iowans now have one more realistic option for dealing with a CAFO in their neighborhood.”

For more information contact JFAN at 641-209-6600 or Visit our website at


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