Democrats in the Iowa Senate have voted to hire 13 new state employees to inspect large livestock facilities and they warn that without them federal inspectors may step in.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency wants large-scale confinements inspected once every five years and the EPA is in discussions with the state over how many state inspectors it would take to do the job. Senator Dennis Black, a Democrat from Grinnell, says retaining jurisdiction at the state level is important.

“EPA barks once and then they bite and that was advised to me in a phone call. Whether it was intimidation, whether it was fact, anything else — I could care less,” Black says. “Bottom line is the EPA claims to have drawn the line in the sand and stated: ‘Iowa you will clean up your act. You will see to it that your waters are cleaner.'”

Republican Governor Terry Branstad and Republicans in the Iowa House want to hire five new inspectors rather than 13. This is one of hundreds of budget decisions that must be resolved before the 2013 legislative session concludes.