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Action Alert: DNR Factory Farm Rules Review

Factory farms poisoning IowaAction Alert from Iowa Citizens for Commuinity Improvement (CCI)

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reviews factory farm rules once every five years. This is our chance to strengthen the rules and hold factory farms accountable!

We need YOU at the DNR hearing in Ainsworth to stand up for a Clean Water Iowa. Our strength is in numbers—in people power.

Register to join us here! 

Here is what you need to know:

When: Tuesday, May 31 at 10 am | Please join us for a prep session at 9:30 am at the location below!

Where: Washington County Conservation Board, Education Center, Marr Park, 2943 Highway 92,  Ainsworth

We would love for you to share your story about why we have to stop factory farms.

We’re fighting for rules that include:

  • Tough regulations to protect our water, air, and communities
  • Accountability by closing corporate factory farm loopholes
  • Transparency of manure application records and from factory farm stakeholders
  • A moratorium on new and expanding factory farms!

We’re in a water crisis because of factory farm manure pollution. Voluntary compliance isn’t working. It’s time to close factory farm loopholes in order to protect People and Planet!

I hope you can join us: register here!

They DUMP it, you DRINK it, we won’t stop ’til they clean it up!

Executive Director

P.S. Can’t join us in-person? Submit your comment online demanding stronger rules to hold factory farms accountable here. We need 1,000 comments by June: help us get there!

We’re currently at 4,72 Facebook followers. Help us get to 5,000 fans!

Stopping The Dakota Access Bakken Pipeline

oil spill

Dakota Access’ Bakken pipeline will spill 1 million+ gallons of crude in its lifetime


Video below is Bold Iowa Director Ed Fallon holding this petition to present to the Army Corps of Engineers in Omaha!

“Ancestral farmland, ancient tribal burial grounds, imperiled rivers and public drinking water are ALL at risk in the path of the Bakken pipeline. North Dakotans, South Dakotans, Iowans and Illinoisans are taking a stand against this deadly plan to transport 500,000+ barrels a day of highly toxic crude oil through some of the richest and most productive farmland in the world. The state government officials charged with “reviewing and approving” this plan are NOT elected officials. They are political appointees looking after their own narrow interests instead of the future of the people they allegedly serve on behalf of. Unite with us to fight this violation of native treaties, sacred burial sites, and The Clean Water Act. We need all of the help we can get to stop this disastrous and wasteful plan to spend billions to build new fossil fuel infrastructure in an age where that money needs to go to renewables instead of making quick cash for big oil and poisoning farmers and average Americans in the process. Join us as we fight for the right to a liveable future!”

If you haven’t seen it yet, please watch the video and also sign the Standing Rock Youth petition!


Just A Reminder: ALEC And Why State Races Are Important

before voting, ask yourself this question

before voting, ask yourself this question

Now that the legislature has concluded and the focus will be on the November elections, it is extremely important that we make sure that we not get totally distracted by the sideshow known as Trump. The Iowa legislature is but one seat from being a tie. With the Lt. Governor being a republican and with her having the tie breaking vote in the senate, keeping a majority in the senate is imperative.

What would happen if republicans maintain control of the House and gain at least a tie in the senate? With the leadership in the Iowa House also being in leadership in ALEC and the governor as a founding member of ALEC, we would quickly see Iowa adopting ALEC legislation into state laws.

If you want examples of what that would mean to Iowa, all we need to do is look around to other states where Republicans own both houses of the legislature and the governor’s chair. Perhaps the most recent example is North Carolina where an ALEC model bill stopping local government (cities or counties) from raising minimum wage added a clause to check the sex of people going into a public bathroom. While that clause gets most of the publicity and reaction, the bill is one of ALEC’s new thrust to stop local governments to respond to the needs of their citizens.

In the past ALEC has pushed such hit legislation as “Stand Your Ground,” many of the charter school laws around the country, and of course the push for all sorts of anti-union laws especially the anti-public union policies. There are a lot of Iowa legislators who would love to sell their state out for a little favor from ALEC businesses.

ALEC gears up for the next winter’s legislative session well in advance. They will have a summer meeting from July 27 – 29th in Indianapolis.
They will be catching legislators coming back from the Republican National Convention in Cleveland the week before. The summer meeting is usually a strategy session. Legislators usually get their walking orders at the winter meeting just before Christmas and the coming legislative session usually held in a warm vacation spot.

So what does ALEC have in store for next year? Our friends at the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) gave us a lowdown on what was expected to go on at the ALEC Task Force Meeting in Pittsburgh yesterday. Here is an short extract of some of the business want list from their min ions in the various legislatures:

Attacking Federal Efforts to Rein-in Carbon Pollution

Over the last three years, ALEC has penned and promoted several bills to stop the Clean Power Plan (CPP), which establishes state-by-state targets for carbon emissions reductions, and offers a flexible framework that allows states to meet those targets. The Clean Power Plan is also a major part of the U.S. commitment to reduce carbon pollution under the recent Paris international climate conference to try to mitigate the consequences of climate change – much more on the environment at the link.

* The Environmental Literacy Improvement Act would require that educators teach students about issues such as climate change from “a range of perspectives.” Although climate change is not a scientifically disputed fact (with 97% consensus), the bill would require that students be taught “countervailing scientific and economic views.”

* The Updating Net Metering Policies Resolution would increase costs for energy users who generate their own electricity through solar panels at their home or business. An ALEC staffer described home solar users to the media as “free riders on the system.”

EDUCATION: More Privatization

ALEC’s education agenda is focused on privatizing America’s public schools. Its bills undermine public education and teachers’ unions and also divert taxpayer dollars from accountable public schools to unaccountable for-profit education corporations. ALEC masks its true agenda in “feel-good” language, such as shifting from terms like “vouchers,” which are broadly unpopular and rooted in segregation, to “opportunity scholarships” or “tuition tax credits.” ALEC bills expected to crop up in 2016 include:

* “Indiana Education Reform Package” creates a voucher program, using taxpayer funds to subsidize private for-profit and religious schools and limits teachers’ rights to collective bargaining. One of its key components–the “Charter School Act”–automatically converts low-scoring public schools into charter schools.

* “Parent Trigger Act” would allow parents to seize control of a school and fire the teachers and principal, or privatize it entirely, for years to come.

These are just a small sample of what a Republican legislature with an allegiance to ALEC would do if elected in Iowa.

Now more than ever is it critical that Iowans vote and vote for legislators that have allegiance to our state and not a business backed lobbying group.

Majority of Iowa Waterways Exceed Drinkable Nitrate Limit

Iowa Water Quality Information System

Click on the image to go to

KC McGinnis | May 3, 2016

Data from the Iowa Water Quality Information System (IWQIS) shows that more than half of Iowa’s waterways being recorded currently exceed the nitrate threshold of 10 mg/l, with several outpacing levels from previous years.

Weeks of warm spring temperatures followed by a week of consistent rain throughout the state last week may have contributed to a spike in nitrate in Iowa’s waterways as it was washed out of fields where it had previously been applied in fertilizers, either as part of the planting process or in the form of anhydrous ammonia in the fall. Nitrate is a pollutant that must be removed at water treatment plants before the water can be suitable for drinking, sometimes at great cost to the plants. Excess nitrate can also cause the spread of toxic algae in lakes and ponds and contributes to a lack of oxygen in the Gulf of Mexico, causing what’s known as a Dead Zone.

Nitrate levels are well ahead of where they were in previous years by this time. Annual data available through IWQIS shows that the Daily Accumulated Yield (the amount of nitrate per watershed acre) in the North Raccoon River is at a level not reached until late May of 2015 and not until late September of 2014. Similar progress can be seen at the South Fork Iowa River in north central Iowa, where nitrate levels are currently the highest in the state at about double the drinkable limit.

The Iowa Water Quality Information System, developed by the University of Iowa IIHR—Hydroscience & Engineering, has a wealth of data available to the public on Iowa’s water quality.  Click here to go to their website and view a tutorial on how to use the system.

IUB: Stop Rewarding Dakota Access

Bakken Pipeline Proposed

May 4, 2016 — The IUB has requested that Dakota Access produce justification to begin construction BEFORE the Army Corps of Engineers permit is issued. The company has repeatedly fed us the line that “delays will impact farmers over two growing seasons instead of one.”

If they are genuinely worried about impacting farmers, then they need to do the right thing and wait until next year to commence construction instead of arguing that delays will cause them to work during two growing seasons.

No one asked them to jump the gun on “pre-construction” clearing and cutting. No one asked Dakota Access to stockpile materials throughout our state. They are using these activities to pressure public servants, farmers, and elected officials all over our state. The IUB needs to stop rewarding Dakota Access for behavior that is far from “Iowa Nice”.

Please file a complaint at

Within the form choose “other” and say “Dakota Access is NOT a utility” then tell them that it benefits no one to allow construction to begin early.

Bill Stowe, An Iowa Hero

“We are in a water crisis in this state… We have sold our souls to the devil..”


Earth Day 2016

Earthrise Dec. 24, 1968

Earthrise Dec. 24, 1968

My participation in the first Earth Day on April 22, 1970 evolved in a convergence of social vectors. Among them was this Apollo 8 photograph of Earth above a lunar landscape by astronaut William Anders.

After viewing the photograph I felt conflicts and maladies in society were insignificant compared with what we have in common within our tiny, shared ecosystem suspended in the dark vastness of space. The photograph and its wide publication were a call to action to work for a common good. I still feel that way. It makes sense.

By spring 1970 we had witnessed the Tet Offensive, the My Lai Massacre, and renewed bombing of North Vietnam. We watched the violence of the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago. We saw bits of Woodstock and Altamont in the media. We also landed men on the moon and returned them safely to Earth. At this convergence I didn’t know what to do, so joined with some high school classmates who were organizing Earth Day events. Earth Day was a common denominator.

What has Earth Day become?

Last week the Johnson County Board of Supervisors proclaimed April 17 through 23 Earth Week and announced two related events: an energy fair, and a local foods panel.

The focus on energy, CO2 emissions particularly, is well placed. We continue to use the atmosphere as an open sewer, discharging millions of tons of the greenhouse gases into it daily. Any reduction in electricity usage benefits the environment, even if the changes needed to solve the problem are trickier to accomplish than changing light bulbs.

Our food system is an obvious pick for Earth Day. Nine percent of greenhouse gas emissions come from agriculture according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. It is a commonplace people need food to live, and the merging of Earth Day with the local food movement is an expected assimilation within normal spring activities. There are few better ways of appreciating Earth than getting one’s hands dirty in the ground, and spring in the Northern hemisphere is a great time to do it. It’s tough to see how planting a few trees, flowers or vegetables will rescue the environment, but as with electricity usage, every bit helps.

There is an entire menu of Earth Day related activities in our county.

Quoting Albert Camus in a recent opinion piece in the Washington Post, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar described why the 2016 election is important,

“This is no longer a prayer but a demand to be made by all peoples to their governments — a demand to choose definitively between hell and reason.” That is what the stakes of this election are: We are choosing between hell and reason.

In 1970 I thought we were already living a form of hell and the Earthrise photograph gave us hope. I would not have believed that in 2016 the Age of Reason itself would be on the brink of dissolution.

The good news is solutions to the climate crisis are working, particularly in the development of alternatives to fossil fuels to generate electricity and industrial power. The challenge is everything on our blue-green sphere is connected in a single ecosystem. What I do in my back yard has implications for living creatures around the planet.

Individuals in the U.S. are willing to do their part and what’s lacking is no secret: the political will to do straightforward things like ratify the Paris Agreement. Negotiated by 195 states within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the agreement addresses greenhouse gases emissions mitigation, adaptation and finance starting in the year 2020. Some 120 nations are expected to sign when the agreement opens for signature this Earth Day.

Will the United States be among them? It’s an open question. Many politicians have indicated the United States should not participate in the agreement at all. Their rationale doesn’t make sense, and that’s what Abdul-Jabbar was getting at. Reason the way most understand it is not in vogue in parts of our government.

Politics aside, Earth Day is a chance to revisit this iconic photograph. When we consider the big picture, as the photograph encourages us to do, little has changed since it was taken. Our troubles seem petty compared to the overriding fact we live on our only home and it’s much smaller than we often see.

Act Now To Stop Proposed 7,499 Hog CAFO In Allamakee County

Factory farms poisoning Iowa*Note from BFIA: This petition is not available online. To sign a hard copy of this petition, see instructions below.

Action alert from Allamakee County Protectors:

Allamakee County is faced with another challenge! There is a large confined animal feed operation proposed near one of our finest trout streams. Attached is a petition that you can print, sign and send back.

Many residents and tourist enjoy the area in jeopardy. Many people from other states enjoy the beauty of this area, so feel free to sign even if you don’t reside in our state.

What we know.
1. There will be a county supervisors hearing on the permit by the end of April.

2. The location is near Village Creek west of Lansing, IA.

3. Jones Creek which naturally produces trout feeds to Village Creek and then to the Mississippi. The CAFO would directly impact these waterways if a manure spill occurred.

4. The CAFO will be 3 buildings housing 7,499 hogs each owned by Reicks.

5. Reicks produced approx. 640,000 hogs last year and this permit is an attempt to move into Allamakee County.

Please sign the petition so our supervisors are aware this is something we don’t want devastating the people, plants or animals of this delicate area.


Robert Nehman, Executive Director
Allamakee County Protectors
P.O. Box 32, New Albin, Iowa 52160
Phone: 608-385-3111
Petition opposing Reick’s factory hog
farm in Allamakee County

“Grassroots action on the CAFO issue is urgently needed. There is a 30-day window to deal with this issue before it is out of local hands, and 10 of those days are already gone!! This is winnable if we can show enough interest via the attached petition.

Every signature is precious. And we want people everywhere to print the petition, get as many family members and friends to sign, and then return. The address to send the petition to is at the bottom of the page.

Other than the petition, there is only one way people can help stop the monstrous CAFO. That is to attend and speak-up at the one public hearing that the county supervisors will hold. No date for that petition has been set yet. But everyone feels it must be within the next 20-days.

Thank you for your help with this. It will be greatly appreciated by all who stand to lose a great deal of money on greatly depreciated property values, widespread stink, pollution of an OIW (Outstanding Iowa Waterway – Village Creek), destroyed rural roads and bridges, and overall loss of quality of life.  – Ric Zarwell”


Petition text:

Family Farms, Yes! — Out Of County Factory Farms, No!

“We – the undersigned – value our rural communities, family farms, and quality of life. We support local farmers
and their families. We strongly oppose large-scale, corporate-owned factory farms with operations
throughout the state that pose a real risk to the quality of our air and water, the value of our homes and
farmsteads, destruction of the county roads, and the direct threat to Village Creek- which is a named and
recognized ‘Outstanding Iowa Waterway’. We are particularly concerned about recent news that Reicks
View Family Farms of Lawler,!Iowa, is planning to build a factory farm this year near Village Creek. Therefore,
we call on our County Supervisors to stand with us in opposing this development and in so doing helping to
protect the residents of Allamakee County and the property they own. We also call upon the DNR and its
director, Chuck Gipp, to uphold their mission statement and protect the natural resources of Iowa.”

Include name, street address, city/state, email


Update: Science And Green News

thom hartmann
Give your brain a break from the Donald.

There are other news sources besides CNN, MSNBC, Fox, and right-wring radio.  Thom Hartmann is one.


Why Palm Oil Is Bad For Iowans

Palm Oil Extraction Photos Credit Wikimedia Commons

Palm Oil Extraction Photo Credit Wikimedia Commons

On Friday, Feb. 5, the benchmark crude palm-oil future contract traded on the Bursa Malaysia Derivatives exchange reached its highest level since May 2014, according to NASDAQ.

Traders were feeling bullish as warm, dry weather caused by El Niño in the region receded from the prime palm plantations in Sumatra, Borneo and other parts of Indonesia.

These palm oil producing regions are half a world away, yet they matter to Iowa more than one knows.

The use of palm oil for cooking is in direct competition with soybean oil, including Iowa-grown soybeans traded on international markets. In a recent interview, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey said one out of four rows of Iowa soybeans are bound for international sales.

“India, the world’s largest importer of cooking oils, will buy more soybean and sunflower oil this year (2015) than ever before as a global glut weakens prices and prompts buyers to switch from palm oil,” according to Bloomberg News.

Because of the decline in farm commodity prices, current trends may favor soybeans over palm, but at the expense of soybean farmers. There is a clear case to be made to avoid products like chocolate, ice cream, detergent, soap and cosmetics that contain palm oil and its derivatives as a way to support Iowa farmers.

What matters more is deforestation to expand the cultivation of palm trees. Using a slash and burn methodology to clear equatorial rain forest for palm plantations, the haze covering Indonesia was visible from space. While haze may be viewed as a temporary inconvenience, deforestation has a direct impact on the planet’s capacity to process atmospheric carbon dioxide. That’s not to mention the loss of habitat and biodiversity, as well as release of carbon stored in trees into the atmosphere.

From logging, agricultural production and other economic activities, deforestation adds more atmospheric CO2 than the sum total of cars and trucks on the world’s roads, according to Scientific American.

“The reason that logging is so bad for the climate is that when trees are felled they release the carbon they are storing into the atmosphere, where it mingles with greenhouse gases from other sources and contributes to global warming accordingly,” the article said. “The upshot is that we should be doing as much to prevent deforestation as we are to increase fuel efficiency and reduce automobile usage.”

Most corporate food conglomerates use or have used palm oil and its derivatives as an ingredient. What’s a person to do?

The first recourse in Iowa is the power of the purse. Avoid purchasing products with palm oil because it competes with Iowa-grown soybeans, and is a contributor to climate disruption. There is no such thing as sustainably grown palm oil.

Palm oil and its derivatives go under many names. A list of alternate names for palm oil can be found here along with a handy wallet sized printout.

Here is a list that discusses use of palm oil in various consumer products.

Explore the Rainforest Action Network web site, beginning with this link. There is a lot of information about the issue and actions you can take to address the most pressing aspects of deforestation.

While Indonesia may seem distant, what goes on there and in other equatorial palm plantations matters here in Iowa.