Scott, Kyle and Eric Henry, owners of LongView Pork, LLC, have applied for three permits with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources to build separately located hog confinements in Story County, just north of Nevada. Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (ICCI) scheduled a community planning meeting in Nevada Tuesday evening to organize an effort to stop issuance of these permits.
The Story County Board of Supervisors may make a recommendation to refuse or accept the permits, but the final decision remains with the DNR.
The community meeting was held at the Nevada Public Library, where attendees introduced themselves and voiced personal reasons for attending the meeting. Nearly 100 citizens from Ames, Nevada and rural areas were in attendance. Many mentioned concerns regarding the Master Matrix itself, some openly commenting that the system itself should be eliminated. Other comments regarded concern with air and water quality and manure management in the permit areas. “I’m concerned about the quality of life,” was a common statement during introductions.
“I ran for county supervisor because I saw the (Story County) Supervisors not do everything they could do to stop the Bakken Pipeline, so I’m here to make sure we do everything we can to resist this,” said Linda Murken, newly elected Story County supervisor.
Concern about the quality of water was a shared sentiment. “I’m concerned with anything that has to do with quality of life. My wife and I will not be building a new house on our family Century Farm site as a result of this,” said Ted Rasmusson, recently elected Story County treasurer.
Adam Mason, ICCI member and organizer for over 12 years, introduced ICCI as a local organization working to give Iowans a voice.
Residents currently living near the proposed hog confinements spoke about their personal experiences with large farms. “In order to get a change, it starts with us, we have to use our voices. It starts with us,” Deb Thompson, a woman who lives near a current hog confinement site and near a proposed new farm site.
Mason added, “Three confinement sites, each housing 5,000 hogs, will cycle about three times a year — 3.8 million gallons of liquid manure will be generated. A hog creates about 2.5 times the waste of a human. This gets dumped untreated on farm fields.”
Manure management plans vary how many acres are needed to spread the manure.
Attendees received a handout with copies of an article titled “The Health Effects of Air Emissions from Confined Animal Feeding Operations” by Ted Schettler of the Science and Environmental Health Network (SEHN). The SEHN was founded in 1994 by organizations concerned with potential misuse of science that may fail to protect the environment and human health. SEHN representative Carolyn Raffensperger, Ames, spoke to the crowd about the handout. “It is a virtual organization, all of this is online,” explained Raffensperger.
Details shared at the meeting included a projection of increased rates of asthma, increased hospitalizations and increased absence from work and school due to air quality and environmental issues. Also mentioned was the financial cost to people and the health care system in areas with CAFOs. “If you live within two miles of a site, home and property values can go down 30 percent,” said Mason.
“The ideal place to put a factory farm is nowhere, if you ask me,” Mason said.
“The Master Matrix was written to keep the factory farms protected,” said Mason. “Your supervisors can recommend to approve or not to approve the matrix. That is why we want to attend the hearing next week,” Mason said to the crowd. “The rules have been written to favor the factory farms. With the Master Matrix, you (the farmer) fill out your own answers, you grade it yourself and you don’t have to score better than 50 percent. They get points for a driveway and a roof on the building. Is that a test you want? We need the supervisors to take off points so the DNR will refuse the permits.”
ICCI representatives stated they don’t agree with all the matrix points LongView Pork, LLC, gave themselves, and encouraged the audience to attend the Story County Supervisor’s hearing Dec. 11 in Nevada and talk to the supervisors about refusing to approve the matrix points.
The Story County Supervisors have received an email of objection to the permit by LongView Pork, LLC from ICCI.
Mark Harris, Milford Township, rallied the crowd to resist the increase in confinement buildings in Iowa.
“When are we going to start studying scientifically the effects this has on our state?” Harris said. ” The resistance is beyond next Tuesday. We want to encourage opposition to the matrix system, to continue this united as a group. We have to start a statewide communication with other counties.”
Murken said the way attendees may best influence the supervisors is by attending and speaking at next week’s hearing.
“I think the committee has made their decision with scoring, but they have to take into account public comments,” she said.
Mason talked about the history of confinement operations and how the state law was changed in the 1950s, allowing only the DNR to have the authority to approve or deny permits for confinements. Attempts by some counties in the late 1990s and early 2000s to stop their construction led to challenges that were rejected in rulings by the Iowa Supreme Court.
“One of the things we are doing at ICCI is that we want counties to go on the record with a resolution to say they don’t want any more factory farms,” Mason said as he held up a handmade map. “This is the map of those counties that do not want more factory farms. Not exactly a bastion of liberal counties, is it? Worth, Emmet, Webster?”
The meeting concluded with a reminder to share the information, join ICCI and show up at the supervisor’s meeting on Dec. 11
“At what time?” Mason said. “9:30!” members of the audience replied.