A Statement from Jefferson
County Farmers & Neighbors, Inc. Board of Directors on the Current
Pork production in Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations
(CAFOs) or factory farms is expanding throughout Iowa, fueled by China’s demand
for cheap pork. Additional market factors make Southeast Iowa a prime area to
build new CAFOs. As a result, Jefferson County is facing its most serious
threat yet from the expansion of CAFOs. In 2014 alone, nine new factory farms
JFAN is extremely concerned with these growing developments.
Decades of scientific research demonstrates CAFOs can have devastating impacts
on Iowan’s health, quality of life, economic vitality, and environment. They
are not in the best interests of the majority of Jefferson County residents.
JFAN is here to ensure that every member of our county understands the adverse
effects of factory farms and to ensure that no one is forced to tolerate a CAFO
against his or her will. We advocate that CAFOs should not infringe on our fundamental
American right to the use and enjoyment of homes and land nor to our quality of
In response to these infringing CAFOs, JFAN is refortifying
its efforts to ensure CAFO owners and corporate integrators know they are not
welcome in Jefferson County, nor will the problems that CAFOs typically bring
with them be tolerated.
JFAN takes particular exception to CAFO owners and
integrators (corporate suppliers) who disrespect rural communities and
traditional family farmers by building CAFOs without seeking the approval of
neighbors within a 2-mile radius and by not following the Iowa Pork Producer’s
Association’s Best Management Practices and JFAN Good Neighbor Guidelines.
JFAN President Jim Rubis retired from the JFAN Board of
Directors in October after nine years of dedicated service. David E. Sykes, an
environmental Iowa attorney and JFAN’s former pro bono legal counsel succeeded
Mr. Rubis as president. The appointment of Mr. Sykes as JFAN’s president, an
attorney engaged in lawsuits to protect Iowa clients from infringing CAFOs, should
be taken as a signal that JFAN is stepping up its efforts to curtail CAFO
development in our county.
Our community education programs and community organizing
efforts will be in support of the following JFAN positions:
scale confinement animal feeding operations are not farms. Period. They are
industrial operations that produce untreated animal waste products containing
over 300 volatile organic compounds, noxious gases, and airborne particulates
and should be regulated as such.
human sewage for which waste treatment is highly regulated, farm animal sewage
is applied untreated to cropland. When applied in quantities typical of CAFOs,
this poses an unacceptable and scientifically proven public health threat.
Sewage from CAFOs must be treated and more rigorously regulated in order to
protect public health and the environment.
3. Raising livestock
in close confinement is inherently inhumane. Studies show it can also produce
less nutritious, and at times harmful, food products as compared to
pasture-raised farming operations. JFAN supports sustainably raised,
pasture-based animal husbandry methods by independent family farmers. There are
economically viable alternatives to factory farms.
4. In response to
a growing public concern about how food is produced, the corporate livestock
industry is waging an aggressive and in JFAN’s opinion a misleading public
relations campaign to equate factory farming with traditional independent
family farming. The truth is that corporate agribusinesses have put a large
percentage of independent family farmers out of business and co-opted the image
of independent, pastoral farming to deceive the public. JFAN will generate a
strong response relying on the truth and documented facts to appeal to the
hearts and minds of the public while addressing the industry’s misinformation
general, Iowa laws and legal loopholes favor factory farming interests over the
rights, needs, and interests of communities. These laws must be changed in
order to better protect people and the environment from the harmful impacts of
CAFOs and to give counties a say in the siting of confinements. JFAN will
increase its lobbying efforts to the allowable limit for a 501(c)(3)
educational organization to promote better legislation.
6. To help
community groups stand up to unwanted CAFOs, when requested JFAN will continue
to provide informational support and guidance to help neighbors pursue all
options to stop a confinement. JFAN will continue to develop relationships with
other state and national organizations in support of these efforts. We will
also share our extensive knowledge base with other county groups so they may
become more effective in protecting themselves against CAFO threats.
7. Until the laws change and CAFOs
become a relic of the past, JFAN will continue to recommend nuisance and
quality of life lawsuits as an option for community groups who are unsuccessful
in their efforts to stop a confinement in their neighborhood. CAFO owners
should understand that if they build CAFOs against neighbors’ wishes, there is
a good chance they will find themselves in a costly lawsuit.
Approved for publication by the JFAN Board of Directors as
of December 1, 2014.