Hogtied at the State House
Rooting Around from the Fairfield Weekly Reader
A review of the small number of CAFO-related bills before this year’s State Assembly reveals such legislation has fared poorly this year.
The proposed livestock odor study bill (House Study Bill 679 and Senate File 2362) – a five-year, $22.7 million study on how to reduce CAFOs odors - is now out of committee. It appears to have enough votes to pass, but Governor Chet Culver asked that the funding amount be reduced to $1 million. Farmers would voluntarily participate in this study and could apply for state funds to cover 100% of the costs.
Representative Mark Kuhn (D – Charles City) offered an amendment to the odor study bill in the House Agriculture Committee that would have required all new or expanded swine operations undergo a Community Air Modeling (CAM) study conducted by Iowa State University. CAM would analyze the amount of odor a CAFO emits, with the results to be attached to the construction permit. The information would be available for public review and comment at any Board of Supervisors public hearing.
CAM would clearly demonstrate which neighboring homes, public buildings, and businesses would be adversely affected by noxious odors, providing neighborhoods with additional resources to fend off a proposed CAFO or expansion.
Rep. Kuhn's amendment was defeated. He was only one of two legislators to vote against the bill on final passage, stating it did not provide enough protection for neighbors whose quality of life is threatened by odor from livestock operations. Our local legislator, Rep. John Whitaker (DHillsboro) also voted against the bill.
JFAN supports the use of already established odor controlled methods and feels the odor study bill is an unnecessary use of taxpayer dollars that doesn’t fully address all the problems created by CAFOs.
Two bills from last year, SF 550 that would have required a county to appoint a committee to review livestock permit applications and assist in siting, and HF 873, which would have expanded the types of areas that could be protected by a larger setback distance, have seen no further action this year due to a lack of support.
The Environmental Protection Commission (EPC) has taken a positive step, however, by passing a proposed rule restricting and eventually banning the application of liquid manure to soybean crops. The rule will limit application to a maximum rate of 100 pounds of liquid manure per acre, half that of the current rate. In addition, manure application to soybeans will be banned in five years, pending another vote by the EPC at that time.
Research by Iowa State University has shown that applying manure to soybeans increases nitrate leaching into the soil, and ultimately surface waters increasing levels anywhere from 35% to 82%.
You can read more about the EPC rule in the next issue of the JFAN Newsletter, which is scheduled for publication shortly. For more information JFAN, visit our website at www.jfaniowa.org.