A group of 12 democrat and republican legislators have released a plan to toughen standards for large-scale livestock operations, and give local officials the ability to review but not decide where new units may be built.Republican Senator Jeff Angelo of Creston was a member of the group. He says it’s a politically volatile issue, but he says both sides tried to give and come up with an historic plan.Republican Representative Ralph Klemme of LeMars says he doesn’t like everything that’s in the bill, but can support it. He’s concerned about over-regulation that could drive the livestock industry out of the state.Democrat Senator Betty Soukup of New Hampton says all sides gave a little bit to come up with the compromise. Soukup says it’s important because of what she says is “an incredible contempt” building in the state against the pork industry. The bill sets up a new evaluation system for new livestock units that would take into account the economic, social and environmental impact of a proposed facility, and county officials would review those standards with applicants, but the final say would come from state officials. In addition, the bill would increase the distance livestock confinements must be kept from vulnerable waterways and homes. It would also ban the construction of manure lagoons in flood plains, and set up new restrictions on the amount of phosphorus — in the form of manure — that may be applied to farm fields.Legislative leaders say the bill may come up for debate in the Senate next week. Critics say the bill is a start, but doesn’t go far enough.
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