County officials from around the state have voted at their annual convention to back the idea of "local control" for livestock confinements. Current Iowa law sets statewide standards for livestock confinements and forbids counties from enacting local ordinances that restrict where confinements may be built or how they are to be operated.

The Iowa State Association of Counties held its convention this week in Des Moines and some officials tried to strip from the group’s legislative platform a call to give county officials the power to regulate livestock confinements. That bid failed on a 97 to 81 vote.

Poweshiek County Supervisor Lamoyne Gaard spoke in favor of letting county officials have some say where livestock confinements may be built. "We had one proposed that was right next door to a little girl with emphysema. There’s no regulation to prevent anything like that," Gaard said. "I think it’s something that needs some study. It needs some strict regulations."

According to Gaard, as many as 50 people have shown up at Poweshiek County Supervisors’ meetings to lobby against large-scale hog confinements planned in their areas. "It’s a big thing if we have 10 people come," Gaard said. Critics of "local control" say the result would be a hodge-podge of regulations — some more strict than others — making it difficult for the livestock industry to survive in the state.

Gaard suggested the status quo isn’t working. "I sympathize with hog producers. We want to have an agriculture industry, but…we’ve lost some industries in our county because of the existing ones are being located close by," Gaard said. "…There’s plenty of place to put (livestock confinements), but not next door to other people who don’t want to have them there."