An application which proposed the construction of a confined animal feeding operation (CAFO) north of Maxwell in Indian Creek Township was unanimously denied by the Story County Board of Supervisors during a virtual town hall meeting Tuesday night.
The supervisors’ decision ultimately acts as a recommendation to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) for approval or denial of the permit, and the final decision lies with the DNR.
The applicant, Maxwell Farms LLC, proposed the construction of a CAFO which would hold roughly 4,960 hogs on the south side of 305th Street, between 630th and 640th avenues.
According to the application, the structure would used for stockpiling and composting activities, and the dead animals would be placed within the composter within 24 hours after death.
According to the county documents, Maxwell North scored a passing grade of 445 on the master matrix, a scoring metric used to evaluate the siting of permitted confinement feeding operations.
The DNR stipulates applicants must have a minimum pass grade of 440 points and at least 25% of the available points in each of the three subcategories of air, water and community impacts to pass the master matrix.
However, during Tuesday’s virtual town hall, opponents of the operation cited an increased health risk during the pandemic and continued damage of local air and water.
“We know the harms factory farms have on our air, our water, our communities … they lower property values, increase risks of lung disease and pollute our waterways, leaving us to deal with the mess,” said Kim Stephens, of Nevada. “Because of these reasons and more, a year and a half ago the board passed a resolution calling for a moratorium on factory farms. Last night the (Story County Board of Supervisors) affirmed that resolution by voting to recommend denial on this new application. I am now calling on the DNR to deny this application as well.”
In 2019, the board voted 2-1 to defeat a motion to appeal the DNR’s approval of permits on a proposed CFO in Richland Township 29.
The proposed confinement site on Richland 29 is a mile north of Nevada, where many argued the manure being distributed there could possibly touch the northern border of Nevada and drain into Harrington Park.
In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the DNR has suspended fines for environmental violations and rolled back certain environmental protections
Opposition to factory farming across the state reemerged this April, when 18 environmental, community and agricultural organizations called on Reynolds to enforce an immediate six-month moratorium on factory farm construction permits in order “to prevent public health and environmental exploitation by the factory farm industry,” according to a statement issued by Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement.
Brenda Brink warned public areas such as Robison Wildlife Acres, 78 acres of woodland in south-central Story County would be affected by potentially harmful gases from the proposed CAFO.
“These arguments were made by the members of our community who actually use this public area (Robison Wildlife Acres) which is now likely to be inundated by noxious gases from the site and from the next door application of manure,” said Brink. “This public use area is now at the mercy of the decision of the DNR, which is known for rubber stamping factory farm applications and prioritizing the needs of corporate ag over what is best for the public.”