Opponents of factory farms turned out in force Monday at the State Environmental Protection Commission to support new rules to regulate the location of the operations.
Wall Lake resident Rosie Partridge says this is the only way to protect the state’s waterways. Partridge says it will “force factory farm owners to think about the adverse impacts that their proposed facilities will have and force them to address these issues before applying for a permit.” She says the state can’t continue to “rubber stamp” the permit applications “that have the potential to further harm the health and quality of life of rural residents, or of the environment.”
Partridge says it’s something the state has needed to prevent water pollution. She says it’s the tool that’s necessary to clean up the waters. Supporters of the pork industry also spoke out.
West Des Moines attorney Mike Blaser represents more than 20 pork producers — and says they’re to be commended for their environmental practices. He says the state saw a record number of new and expanded operations and only three permits out of 200 were appealed and he says only a handful resulted in significant environmental concerns. The rule would allow the state to reject construction applications in environmentally sensitive areas.
Blaser says he thinks the rule allows too much leeway to D-N-R Director Jeff Vonk. He says it gives Vonk extraordinary power when it hasn’t been show he needs that power. Vonk says it’s not about stopping livestock expansion, it’s about helping expand responsibly. He says they’re trying to help developers avoid problems in environmentally sensitive areas up front instead of having to mitigate them after the fact.
Vonk says it’s about striking a balance between growth and the environment. He says he believes the D-N-R needs the flexibility to try and protect the environment without trying to create economic hardship for the industry. The commission will vote on the rules next month.