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Sample Letter to DNR Attorney Kelli Book on Chapter 65 and the Regulatory Analysis

Use this letter to submit comments to Kelli Book, DNR AFO Attorney at AFO@dnr.iowa.gov by 4:30 pm, Tuesday, September 26. Cut and paste it into your own email, personalizing it as you see fit. You can also mail written comments to Ms. Book at Iowa Department of Natural Resources, Wallace State Office Building, 502 East Ninth Street, Des Moines, IA 50319. All written comments must also be received by 4:30 on September 26. Thank you for all you do. 

Dear Ms. Book,

 

We applaud the DNR for adopting some of the recommendations made by JFAN, the Iowa Environmental Council, and other environmental organizations. But there are still some very critical shortfalls in both the Chapter 65 revision and the Regulatory Analysis that need to be remedied. I urge you to:

 

1. Include the public health and environmental figures in the Regulatory Analysis that the Iowa Environmental Council and JFAN provided in their June 15, 2023 and June 16, 2023 comments. While you rightfully acknowledge that the benefits to the environment outweigh the costs of CAFO compliance, the figures provided in the Regulatory Analysis don’t clearly reflect the true picture of how the externalized costs of industrial livestock production greatly affect Iowans and water quality.

 

I urge you to include that, each year, direct medical expenses cost Iowans $7.25 – $27.5 million, indirect medical expenses cost $35 - $167.5 million, public water supply treatment costs $165 million, and private well treatment for Iowans $4 – 7 million. These figures were well documented in the Iowa Environmental Council’s Joint Comments of June 15, 2023 of which JFAN is a signatory.

 

Further, I urge you to include a 2021 Tourism Iowa report JFAN provided in their June 16, 2023 public comments that found that the economic benefits that year had a $9.4 billion impact in Iowa with $6.1 billion in direct spending, $1 billion in state and local taxes generated, and 65,000 jobs created.

 

That provides a more complete picture of the tourism’s industry contribution to Iowa’s economy than the data quoted in the Regulatory Analysis from American Sportfishing Association. The statistics that sports fishing in Iowa generates $386 million in retail sales, 4,000 statewide jobs, and $24 million in state and local tax revenue is only part of the economic impact of Iowa tourism.

 

Polluted and deteriorating waterways and noxious CAFO odors impede visitors’ enjoyment of state attractions threatening tourism's economic contribution to the state.

 

The governor’s office needs clear figures demonstrating the significant detrimental financial impact of industrial livestock production on public health and water quality and the substantial economic benefit of Iowa's tourism industry in order to fully understand why CAFO regulations and compliance are so important. Without them, your argument that the environmental benefits of CAFO regulations outweighs the cost of regulatory compliance for CAFOs doesn't hold up.

 

2. Close the LLC loophole once and for all. You have taken a good step in requiring LLC owners of adjacent CAFOs to document their percentage of ownership in each CAFO, submitted in a DNR application, but it isn’t yet enough. To validate these claims, a legally signed Operating Agreement, developed when an LLC is formed, must accompany the application. CAFOs have too much of an impact on all Iowans, and CAFO owners should be required to share this pertinent information.

 

I urge you to also require every adjacent CAFO LLC in the state, regardless of size, to provide an Operating Agreement. Requiring this only of permitted sites is not nearly enough. There are more unpermitted CAFOs and small animal feeding operations built throughout the state that are under the 1000 animal unit (2500 hogs) threshold than there are the number of permitted sites. These are the size of adjacent CAFOs that the current loophole primarily benefits as it offers an opening for LLC owners to skirt more stringent and protective regulations. Close the LLC loophole for good so the DNR can better protect Iowans and water quality.

 

3. Restore the language removed on manure management plans, return manure application guidelines, and adopt an online manure management plan database and geospatial mapping system. Improper manure application is damaging Iowa's waterways, and manure management plan regulations should be easily found in one location. CAFO owners should not have to hunt online for the missing regulations nor accidentally overlook important regulations. While not required by law, manure application guidelines outline practices that encourage responsible manure application. Removing them gives an implied approval that they don’t have to be followed.

 

I also urge you to adopt an online manure management plan database and geospatial mapping tool so the DNR can see exactly where manure is being applied and how much each field is getting. The current paper system is difficult and cumbersome to cross reference, and there are fields in the state that are in several manure management plans. The DNR doesn't have a handle on where manure is being applied in the state, leading to too many instances of manure over application.

Iowa has a very real $4 billion water quality crisis, with 751 polluted waterways – half of all waterways tested every two years. We certainly don’t need more polluted lakes, rivers, streams and wetlands.  

 

I urge you to adopt these changes as well as all the other recommendations proposed by Jefferson County Farmers & Neighbors, Inc., the Iowa Environmental Council and the other environmental organizations. They are strong, sensible  recommendations designed to protect the public health and environment of all Iowans. That is the responsibility of the Department of Natural Resources. Iowans deserve no less.  

 

Sincerely yours,

 

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