At what point does Iowa have enough CAFO hogs, enough factory farms, enough liquid manure from confinements, enough water pollution?
For many Iowans, that point is right now.
Bill Stowe, CEO and General Manager of the Des Moines Water Works, will speak on Iowa’s terrible water quality that is sparking a new statewide campaign at the JFAN Annual Meeting, Reclaiming the Soul of Iowa: Why We Need a Factory Farm Moratorium, on Wednesday, October 26 beginning at 7:15 pm at the Fairfield Arts & Convention Center, 200 N. Main Street, Fairfield.
Iowa has over 9,000 factory farms confining the vast majority of 20 million Iowa hogs and a record 754 water impairments, and those numbers keep growing. Stowe will focus on the significant contribution industrial hog production makes to polluting Iowa waters and why we need a factory farm moratorium to address this crisis. Approximately 22 billion gallons of toxic, untreated hog sewage generated by factory farms is applied onto Iowa farmland every year according to Iowa Farmer Today. That number increases annually as hundreds of new factory farms are built throughout the state.
Stowe is no stranger to the health impacts and economic hardships brought about by Iowa’s polluted waterways. As Des Moines Water Works (DMWW) CEO and General Manager, he is responsible for providing safe drinking water to approximately 500,000 people in the metropolitan Des Moines area. Dangerously high nitrate levels in the Raccoon River forced Stowe to run the utility’s denitrification facility for a record 177 days in 2015 at a cost of $1.5 million to customers. Des Moines Water Works is now engaged in a contentious and highly publicized lawsuit that has the potential to change how agriculture is regulated nationwide.
“JFAN is focusing on water pollution in this year’s annual meeting, but that is just one symptom of deeper concerns about CAFOs,” says JFAN board member Dr. John Ikerd. “The human body is mostly water. ‘Water is life.’ A lack of respect for water is a lack of respect for life. If life is sacred, then water is sacred. When CAFOs pollute our air and water, degrade and erode our soil, destroy our family farms and rural communities, they are corrupting the very soul of Iowa.
”Hundreds of peer-reviewed studies conducted over the last 50 years document the harmful impacts of CAFOs on people, the environment, rural economies, and more.
Like the DMWW, Iowans from around the state are saying “enough is enough.”
On September 21, 2016 the Iowa Alliance for Responsible Agriculture (IARA), a coalition of over 20 national, state, and local environmental and community organizations, called for a factory farm moratorium until there are less than 100 water impairments in Iowa. The Des Moines Water Works and JFAN are both members of IARA and support the statewide factory farm moratorium given these current conditions. Stowe will speak on this bold new approach to stem Iowa’s water pollution problems.
Joyce Otto, a registered nurse and President of Poweshiek CARES, an IARA member, will share how living near a confinement impacted her professional and family life, providing first hand testimony as to why a factory farm moratorium is needed to protect the health and well being of Iowa residents.
Reclaiming the Soul of Iowa will also present action steps to support the moratorium campaign. Jess Mazour, community organizer with Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, a member of IARA, will outline a variety of approaches Iowans around the state can take to actively advocate for a moratorium.
A panel discussion will be held at the conclusion of the meeting.
Keynote speaker Bill Stowe was appointed CEO and General Manager of the Des Moines Water Works in 2012 after serving as the city’s Assistant Manager-Public Works/Engineering for 13 years and its Human Resources Director prior to that. He sits on the Board of Directors of the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies representing the largest drinking water utilities in North America. Stowe holds a Juris Doctorate degree from Loyola University Law School and is a member of the Iowa Bar Association.
The JFAN Annual Meeting is Co-sponsored by our community partners: Leopold Group Sierra Club, Southeast Iowa Food Hub, solar-powered KRUU-100.1 FM, Sustainable Living Coalition, Radish Magazine, and Little Village Magazine.
Reclaiming the Soul of Iowa will begin at 7:15 pm with a short music performance by Steve and Michaela McLain. Presentations will begin promptly at 7:30 pm.
Admission is free; a donation of $5 is welcome to support JFAN’s mission.
JFAN is a 501(c)(3) educational foundation working to protect the quality of life of Jefferson County residents since 2005. Our efforts successfully help to deter the proliferation of CAFOs in Jefferson County. All donations are tax-deductible to the full extent of the law.