Two key Democrats in the Iowa House are proposing new regulations for the state’s livestock industry. The new rules would require livestock confinements to be built farther away from neighboring homes, churches, schools and tourist attractions — including major bodies of water.
Those who want to build closer than the new rules would allow could pay to have Iowa State University staffers conduct an "odor assessment" in hopes of obtaining a waiver. Representative Mark Kuhn, a Democrat from Charles City, says the new restrictions would protect the environment while giving the livestock industry some flexibility.
"We think it meets the needs of neighbors in the rural community and meets the goals of producers," Kuhn says. Representative Marcella Frevert, a Democrat from Emmetsburg, says many Iowans are demanding change. "We have a heightened consciousness level among the public of odor and water quality," Frevert says.
But Representative Jack Drake, a Republican from Lewis, says the new rules would prohibit many farmers from having a livestock confinement on their own land, including him. "When you take 400 acres and you can’t hardly find a place hardly to put a confinement on, that’s getting pretty restrictive," Drake says.
Representative Steven Olson, a Republican from DeWitt, says the rules would be a set-back for the state’s livestock operators."To keep the renewable fuel industry in Iowa, we need to have a viable livestock industry," Olsen says. "Hogs, cattle, the dairy industry are all part of the mix and we have to be careful that we don’t chase them out of the state as well."
Frevert, one of the Democrats who’s pushing for the changes, doesn’t buy that argument. "There always are naysayers who say you’re going to drive livestock production out of this state," Frevert says. "…We hope that this will have bipartisan support and, I guess, time will tell." The proposal must clear a House committee by the end of this week, or it will not be eligible for further debate.