The Democrat who’s running to be Iowa’s next Secretary of Agriculture supports giving county boards of supervisors the power to approve or veto construction of new livestock confinements. Denise O’Brien says county officials make siting decisions for other industries, and they should be able to make such decisions for the livestock industry as well.

“I’ve always been a supporter of local control and I think the issue is heightening,” O’Brien says. “It’s important that someone who is…a candidate for Secretary of Agriculture should put a voice to this as well.” The Iowa Department of Agriculture does not regulate livestock confinements; the Department of Natural Resources does.

O’Brien says if she’s elected State Ag Secretary, she’ll try to mediate some resolution to this ongoing conflict. “Help to work out that we can have livestock in Iowa and we can have recreation in Iowa,” she says. “It seems to me that this is coming to a point now in time that there has to be someone (who) will be willing to sit down with all sides and work out how we can make Iowa a safe and healthy place that everyone wants to live in.”

O’Brien supports the move Governor Vilsack’s Department of Natural Resources made to establish a rule that gives the D-N-R director the power to veto construction permits for livestock confinements. “It’s limited discretionary authority,” O’Brien says. “In the absence of local control, there needs to be that authority.” O’Brien faces Republican Bill Northey in November. Northey’s website does not offer the candidate’s views on this issue and the campaign has not responded to Radio Iowa’s request for information.