Factory Farms (CAFOs)
Watch the Thom Hartmann program live on YouTube M-F 11-2 central. Here Thom talks with a caller about the environmental damage done by factory farming.
This week, we had some tremendous victories to put People & Planet before factory farm polluters! Here are some exciting updates to brighten your day.
- 88 counties in Iowa passed the Master MatrixYour calls, emails, and Letters to the Editor paid off! Now, most Iowa counties will be able to use this tool throughout 2017 and weigh in on factory farm construction in their communities.So, why didn’t 11 counties pass it? We talked to supervisors across the state, and they feel like their concerns aren’t being heard by the DNR – despite using the Master Matrix. This shows that there is demand for true local control in Iowa. The DNR needs to stand up to corporate polluters and listen to the voices of thousands of Iowans!
- Two huge factory farms denied in North Central IowaThis week, CCI members stood up and spoke out against two huge factory farm proposals – and their supervisors listened!In Mitchell, supervisors denied an application for a 5,000-head Iowa Select factory farm. And in Cerro Gordo, supervisors denied an application to expand an existing factory farm from 1,864 total head to 9,154 total head.After community input and review, both boards deducted points from the Master Matrix, giving the applicants a failing grade. This shows growing momentum for a moratorium on new and expanding factory farms in Iowa.
- Neighbors will now receive noticeCCI members in Cerro Gordo organized and got their supervisors to agree to mail notification to neighbors near proposed factory farm sites! This is another important tool we can use to give our communities more time to react, organize, and fight back against to these developments.Do you want neighbor notification in your community, too? Get in touch to find out more. Contact me at EricaB@iowacci.org or call (515) 282-0484.
And the best news of all is that more and more people across Iowa are demanding change. These victories wouldn’t have happened with you standing up and fighting back!
P.S. Joining Iowa CCI is the best way to dive into and be a part of the statewide movement to clean up Iowa’s water. Join as a member today or make an extra gift to help keep our work going.
We’re currently at 6,018 Facebook followers. Help us get to 7,000 fans!
Action 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.
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!
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!
Action Alert From CCI:
CCI members reviewed and released 218 documents obtained through Freedom of Information Act request regarding proposed Prestage slaughterhouse
Des Moines, IA. Members of Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (CCI) are demanding that the Mason City City Councilors vote no on the proposed Prestage slaughterhouse after leaving citizens in the dark.
Following an initial review of public records regarding the proposed Prestage slaughterhouse, which were obtained from the City of Mason City through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, it is clear that city officials went to great lengths to keep the public out of the decision-making process.
Based on this initial review, it is clear to CCI that:
The city intended to rush this project because Prestage is “on a fast track” and the “sooner we get it done the better,” according to an email string between Governor Branstad’s Economic Development Authority and city officials, as well as a handwritten note from an internal city meeting. While city leaders discussed the project for months, the public was deliberately kept in the dark due to concerns about opposition.
The rezoning of the new Southside Gateway Urban Renewal Area was quietly initiated just 12 days after the city was approached about the Prestage slaughterhouse for the purpose of “[providing] TIF incentives for the new pork production plant.” Yet, the city made no mention of Prestage, making it impossible for the public to truly weigh in on the rezoning process.
City councilors are aware of the potential explosion of factory farm construction in North Central Iowa and the problems associated with the factory farm industry. In an email to city councilors, Chad Shrek, President and CEO of the North Iowa Corridor, glossed over the impact of the Prestage slaughterhouse. Yet the same email cites industry analyst Steve Meyer, saying, “filling the five plants (Mason City, Iowa; Coldwater, Mich.; Sioux City, Iowa; Windom, Minn.; and Pleasant Hope, Mo.) being built or remodeled at present would take roughly 9.625 million head of hogs or 8.3 percent more than last year’s slaughter.” This shows that the city knows the implications of the Prestage slaughterhouse to the area.
CCI invites the public to review the 218 FOIA documents, which includes email correspondences, handwritten notes, site plans, project documents, meeting notes, etc. Documents can be viewed online by clicking here.
“This shows that we can’t trust the city councilors. They’ve already made their decision before listening to what the public has to say,” said Dillion Daniels, a Mason City resident. “We’re still calling on them to do the right thing.”
Prestage Farms is a privately held, out-of-state corporation and the nation’s 5th largest pork producer. It currently operates 142 factory farms in Iowa. Its proposed slaughterhouse in Mason City, which would kill up to 22,000 hogs per day, will mean more factory farms and more pollution in Iowa at the expense of independent family farmers, taxpayers, and quality of life.
The Mason City City Council will take its final vote on the proposed Prestage slaughterhouse at its meeting on Tuesday, May 3. CCI members and community members will attend this final hearing to demand that the City Council vote against approving this project.
“We are in a water crisis in this state… We have sold our souls to the devil..”
Factory farms, officially called Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs), make the worst possible neighbors. People forced to live close to CAFOs often report becoming sick from toxic gases produced by decomposing animal waste. They can’t even enjoy their own backyards or open their windows on summer nights because the stench from CAFOs miles away is overwhelming. Residents near CAFOs also report an increase in pest infestations, including rodents and swarms of flies. Family and friends often refuse to visit because the smell is so unbearable.
But it’s much more than the intolerable smell that impacts rural communities. Manure run-off from CAFOs contaminates streams, rivers, and lakes that were once recreation centers and tourist destinations. Over-application of manure on fields near residences also causes their wells to become contaminated, threatening the health of anyone coming into contact with the water.
CAFOs take a tremendous economic toll on communities too. Property values plummet whenever a CAFO moves in. Some owners living near CAFOs have filed property tax appeals and won in court, demonstrating that their homes and properties lost significant value due to these industrial-scale facilities. All CAFOs entice communities with the promise of increased tax revenue, but the falling values of the properties surrounding CAFOs negate any promised increase.
Not only do communities lose income when CAFOs move in, they are also forced to increase expenditures on the development and maintenance of infrastructure, especially roads and bridges broken down by CAFO semi-truck traffic. Once a CAFO shuts down, communities are then left with depressed economies, low property values, and costly, often irreparable environmental damage.
Unlike traditional family farms, which purchase feed, supplies, and building materials from local suppliers, CAFOs typically purchase everything from outside of the region while paying their workers a very low wage. Because local residents are rarely willing to work for the dismal pay CAFOs offer, these facilities encourage low-wage workers to move into communities. Consequently, CAFOs provide little to no stimulus for local economies, while imposing prohibitive costs. Wherever CAFOs come in, family farms are driven out of business–and when family farms and the good jobs they provide disappear, rural main streets become ghost towns.
CAFOs are a resource extraction industry, draining the wealth from communities and leaving behind polluted water, foul air, broken roads, and sick residents. The only ones who benefit from CAFOs are their CEOs and corporate shareholders, whose pockets are lined with profits reaped from polluting the environment, paying workers unfair wages, treating animals inhumanely, and devastating rural economies.
To the Editor:
The proposal by Reicks Farms for the Confinement Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) filled with swine to be built in Allamakee County on the former farm homesteaded by the Marti and Clark family off Highway 9 past the Landmark on Kedary Ridge Road presents a variety of concerns for this wife, mother of two young children, and nurse practitioner.
The research I found regarding the illness, health problems and mortality regarding large swine feeding operations is quite concerning. Air, water and soil quality are all affected by this type of operation. The gas produced from the hog setup will release 71 volatile compounds into the air we breathe and can cause asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, bronchitis, sinusitis, allergic rhinitis, burning eyes, weakness, numbness, difficulty speaking, blurred vision, night blindness, organic dust toxic syndrome, pharyngitis, sore throat and pulmonary edema. All of these air-borne pathogens and disease states can be prevented by not allowing a large confinement of 13,000 pigs to be built.
Furthermore, there are 10 disease pathogens found in pig manure. The state of Iowa had 67 manure spills in just one year, 2015. This averages to be one manure spill in the state of Iowa every five days. The disease pathogens can cause abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, rash, fever, chills, fatigue, weakness, muscle spasms, open sores and dehydration. The sources of infections from pathogens include fecal-oral transmission, inhalation, drinking water, or incidental water consumption during recreational activities. The potential for transfer of pathogens is higher in a confinement setup, as there are more animals per smaller amount of space.
Another alarming finding was the evidence of Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) found in pigs resulting in contaminating workers and their families in 45% of the participants in the study. There is currently no cure and limited treatment options for MRSA, which could result in exposing an entire family and community to increased infection rates.
Those with weakened immune systems are at risk for severe illness or death. The high risk population includes infants or young children, pregnant women, the elderly, and those that are immunosuppressed, HIV positive or have had chemotherapy. All ages will be affected by the construction of this large hog setup, especially the neighbors surrounding the proposed building site.
My job as a parent, nurse practitioner and citizen of Allamakee County is to protect the environment, my children and my patients from death and spread of disease. The hog setup will be 2,184 feet from our home placing our family at risk. Allowing the building of this hog confinement, and others like it in Allamakee County, will have serious environmental ramifications. The quality of our water, soil and air will be affected, but most importantly the health of our family, neighbors and friends will be affected.
Please voice your opinion at the community meeting and help us stop this and future hog confinements from ruining our beautiful Allamakee County.
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
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”
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
by Chris Peterson
As many know, there is a proposal in the works for a large-scale meatpacking plant in Mason City where live hogs will be shipped, killed and processed.
This is a big step for Mason City, Clear Lake and northern Iowa and an unknown positive or negative for the future. It is essential for the general public — not just politicians — to evaluate risks and ask questions.
Is the city ready to accept everything it is being told by the company? Investigations into other packing plant towns should be conducted and citizens there should be asked what the smell and air-quality impacts have been for them as well as the plant workers.
This is a valid concern as the proposed plant is directly south of town and the prevailing southerly winds will blow toward Mason City most of the time.
Another issue is the massive use of water it will take to kill and process 10,000 pigs daily. If city infrastructure can’t handle the usage, taxpayers will pick up the bill. Also, keep in mind pigs dress out at approximately 72 percent meat. The rest will have to be processed into something else or become waste. How will this waste be handled? These things need to be investigated beyond inquiring with the company and those with a stake in the project.
Another fact is the pigs will not be from traditional independent family farmers. A majority of traditional independent pig farmers are being put out of business by the corporate meatpacking industry. Big meatpacking companies control the market by owning their own factory farms or by controlling their supply through contracts with vertically integrated industrial farms where the packers own the hogs and the farmers basically own the debt for the hog buildings and the waste they leave behind.
If this plant is constructed, the pigs will have to come from somewhere. Slaughter plants of this size typically bring pigs from a 75-mile radius — any further than that and you have additional costs of transport, higher death rates, etc.
This plant won’t be able to siphon hogs away from other plants based on the way the industry operates. This means that with a 10,000-a-day kill rate, the plant won’t have enough pigs to fill its demand. What will result is a massive industrial hog-confinement building boom in northern Iowa.
If you are an established family farm/acreage owner and finally put up your dream home in the last few years, the use and enjoyment of your property and quality of life will tank if a hog confinement goes up near you. Under current state law, basically the first line of defense is to pray daily.
There will be a lot of liquid sewage generated, which will be applied all over your neighborhood and beyond. The big picture is it will be all about big corporations, lots of hogs, manure and negative consequences.
So, is this a deal with the devil — a kiss of death, so to speak — for Mason City and northern Iowa? Are we giving away our quality of life, water quality, enjoyment of property, a clean environment, our health and vibrant tourist industries in Mason City and Clear Lake which have grown by leaps and bounds in recent years?
We need the truth and these questions answered before this is welcomed into our community. So far it seems things have gone on behind closed doors with no transparency. We just get occasional “progress” updates in the media. Where do the citizens of northern Iowa fit into this?
At the very least, I call for a public hearing so the residents get these questions answered, full information and have a say about our future. After all, Mason City folks, it’s your town and this area is our home! Let your mayors, city councils, county health and supervisors know there needs to be a public meeting.
Chris Petersen, Clear Lake, is a farmer and is associated with the Socially Responsible Agricultural Project (www.sraproject.org) and works across the United States.