Members of Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement are at the statehouse today, lobbying against proposals they say would create a new loophole for large-scale livestock operations.
Similar bills pending in both the House and the Senate would allow livestock operations to close down barns in order to be reclassified as a small-scale livestock producers and, as a result, avoid filing manure management plans with the state. Brenda Brink of Huxley says millions of gallons of manure could be left behind in the closed barns.
“These bills stink, just like the manure,” Brink says.
Iowa Citizens Community Improvement board president Lori Nelson of Bayard says legislators should stand up for clean water and stop “kowtowing” to large-scale livestock producers.
“This bill is about avoiding EPA inspections and rewarding bad manure management for factory farmers who can’t handle and didn’t plan for storing manure over the winter months,” Nelson says. Several years ago legislators voted to make it illegal to spread manure on frozen ground.
Jim Yungclas of Grinnell, a retired director for the Iowa State University Extension Service in Dickenson County, says manure poses a “real risk” to Iowa’s lakes and streams.
“It seems ironic that we should even consider bills that weaken regulations for manure management at a time when Iowa is making national news about factory farms polluting our waters at an ever-increasing rate,” Yungclas says.
A recent Wall Street Journal article highlighted federal efforts to increase inspections of Iowa livestock operations to address concerns about water pollution caused by manure spills and the run-off from fields where manure has been spread.
The Iowa Pork Producers Association is the only group registered as supporting the bills to change state livestock regulations. A spokesman for the association says many producers “would like to suspend their manure management plans” because a “farmer’s son” is going to college and the farmer wants to reduce his hog herd — and close a confinement building — until the son returns to the farm and can start raising hogs in that building.