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Put Moratorium on CAFOs: JFAN Letter to the Editor in Fairfield Ledger

Webster, Allamakee, Winneshiek, Pocahontas, Dickinson and Buchanan*: What do these six counties have in common? Their recent call for a factory farm moratorium, either by a resolution or public letter, to legislators.

During Monday’s packed supervisors’ meeting, Jefferson County residents asked Supervisors Dee Sandquist, Lee Dimmit and Dick Reed to add Jefferson County to this growing list.

We thank our supervisors for addressing this request and encourage them to listen to the large number of Jefferson County residents who turned out on short notice speaking in favor of a factory farm moratorium. This is an important issue to a significant number of Jefferson County residents.

The supervisors in the six counties calling for a moratorium recognize the harm corporate livestock production can impose on their constituents and the environment, documented in over 50 years of respected peer-reviewed studies. Air pollution. Water pollution. Road degradation. Quality of life deterioration. Public health degeneration. Rural economic decay. And the continued loss of traditional, independent livestock producers, once the economic and social backbone of rural communities.

They understand that while agriculture is an important industry, the number of concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) in Iowa is staggering. (9,000 CAFOs, over 20 million hogs at any one time, producing 22 billion gallons of sewage annually.)

Write Webster County supervisors, “The CAFO industry is getting out of control.”

These supervisors recognize the Iowa Department of Natural Resources is unable to adequately enforce its minimal CAFO regulations.

They experience glaring weaknesses in the Master Matrix that gives no more than lip service to local control.

They see that smaller CAFOs, 1,249 hogs or less, can be built just a few hundred feet away from a person’s home. Or a school. Or hospital. Because separation distances aren’t required between smaller CAFOs and such buildings.

These supervisors experience how the Iowa LLC loophole allows an individual CAFO owner to build multiple confinements right next to each other under different LLC names and have them count as separate, individual confinements, bypassing regulations that apply to larger operations. This problem is rampant throughout Iowa including Jefferson County.

That’s why the Iowa Alliance for Responsible Agriculture (IARA), a coalition of 25 national, state, and community organizations in Iowa, is calling for a moratorium on new and expanding factory farms until there are less than 100 water impairments in the state.

Currently, there are 754, a figure that increases every year.

The moratorium would pause new or expanding CAFO development until we can clean up our dirty waterways and fix the myriad of problems associated with corporate controlled livestock production.

A pause could open avenues for family farmers to migrate regenerative agricultural practices that cause no harm. JFAN is a member of IARA ( and supports the Alliance’s call for a moratorium.

We strongly urge the Jefferson County Board of Supervisors to join their fellow supervisors who’ve demonstrated a deep concern for the health and well-being of their constituents and the environment by adopting a resolution in support of a factory farm moratorium for Iowa.

* Note - since the publication of this letter, Cedar County has become the seventh county passing a resolution calling for a factory farm moratorium.

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