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Community Rights - What You Can Do


1. Learn more about CAFOs and constitutional rights. Dr. John Ikerd’s article, CAFOs: A Question of Constitutional Rights is a good place to begin. 

2. Speak up. The Iowa legislature is responsible for passing laws that have negated our community rights. It’s up to all of us to speak out again and again and demand changes.

Call and write to your representatives. When legislators don’t hear from their constituents, they assume you don’t care or you agree with their decisions. If you live near a CAFO, invite them to visit your home to see what it’s like. Some are actually surprised to experience what thousands of Iowans have to deal with every day.

If you are trying to stop a factory farm in your community, meet with your legislators to share why you don’t want the CAFO. Increasing numbers of people are doing this around Iowa, and some legislators are beginning to listen.

Does your legislator have a deaf ear? Identify, recruit, and support replacements who understand the hardships CAFOs can cause and who are willing to make changes that support your right to a safe and healthy environment.

We the people can vote unresponsive legislators out of office and demand better laws when we the people realize our collective power.

3. Urge your legislators to support a statewide CAFO moratorium. Iowa is overrun with over 20 million hogs and nearly 9,000 factory farms. Taking a break from CAFOs can give Iowans an opportunity to discuss and design what kind of a future we want for our state that includes reclaiming our community rights.

4. Learn about options for community rights ordinances.* Nearly 200 communities around the country are standing up to factory farming and other harmful industries with ordinances that put community rights first. The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF)  is a nonprofit organization that provides legal services, organizational support, and education to communities facing a factory farming threat. Their Democracy School trains community members in how to advocate for a community rights ordinance, provides a clear historical understanding of how Americans lost their rights, and presents a strategy for how they can be restored. Check out a compelling and informative presentation on community rights made by CELDF Executive Director Thomas Linzey during a visit to Fairfield in 2013. 

Jefferson County graduates of the Democracy School formed the Jefferson County Community Rights Network (JCRN) to advocate for a community rights ordinance in Jefferson County. They welcome new members and can be reached here

5. Learn about the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and urge your federal legislators to oppose it. The TPP is a trade agreement between 12 Pacific Rim countries that would encompass 40% of the world’s GDP. If passed, the Iowa Pork Producers Association predicts the TPP will increase Iowa pork exports 50% over a 10-year period. That could increase pork production by an estimated 5 million hogs per year in Iowa alone, opening the door to many more factory farms.

Provisions in the TPP presume the “expectation of profit” is more important the general welfare of communities, environmental protection, and labor rights. Foreign investors could sue communities or governments for enforcing regulations or safeguards that could interfere with a corporation’s expected profits. These lawsuits would be heard in a justice system outside US courts. Community rights would be further quashed by passage of the TPP.

Here are some good links to find out more:

Coloradans for Community Rights


Expose the TPP

Public Citizen

6. Learn about the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, too and urge your legislators to oppose it also. The TTIP is a trade agreement between the US and the European Union that would aim to “harmonize standards and regulations in both regions to expand corporate profits” according to the Institute for Agriculture & Trade Policy, a national organization that works to ensure fair and sustainable food, farm, and trade systems. The TTIP would weaken many of the regulations that aim to ensure a healthy and sustainable food system. Learn more about it here

7. Use your consumer power and purchase non-CAFO meat, dairy and egg products. Consumers’ dollars wield a lot of influence and are responsible for many changes livestock production. Over time, consumers can change the landscape of meat, dairy and egg production. Learn how you can flex your consumer muscle here

8. Educate your family and friends. Share JFAN’s ad and webpage with others. Find us on Facebook and Twitter. Increasing numbers of people are becoming aware of the injustices of the corporate livestock industry and are demanding something better. Let them know there are things they can do and they are not alone.

9. Donate to JFAN. Your tax-deductible support helps JFAN continue its continuing education program and provide organizational support to Jefferson County communities facing an unwanted CAFO. We are a grassroots funded organization, and your donation keeps us active and thriving. Thank you for your support. 

* We provide this information as part of our community education efforts but do not advocate any particular course of action.

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