On Monday, June 26, JFAN attended the Jefferson County Board of Supervisors meeting expecting our supervisors would discuss whether to add to the agenda of an upcoming meeting our request to present petition signatures supporting a CAFO moratorium resolution. We would also make a formal request that Jefferson County adopt a resolution at that time.
The supervisors meeting, however, unfolded differently than expected.
At our first meeting with supervisors in late March, Supervisor Dick Reed said the board would revisit the resolution request at a follow up meeting. Prior to Monday, JFAN spoke with each supervisor asking the petition presentation be added to the agenda of a future board meeting. Supervisor Dee Sandquist asked that we direct this request towards Supervisors Lee Dimmitt and Dick Reed since she introduced our original request.
Supervisor Dimmitt was strongly opposed. However, Supervisor Reed said he would bring our request up for discussion at the June 26 meeting. He asked that JFAN remind him right before the meeting.
After consulting with Supervisor Sandquist, we emailed Supervisor Reed the morning of June 22 requesting he put this discussion on this week’s agenda. That did not happen. Early Monday morning, we spoke to Supervisor Reed, and he did agree to discuss it with the other supervisors during the meeting.
JFAN attended the supervisor meeting along with six other supporters. Supervisor Reed did not bring up our request. JFAN then took the opportunity during the public comment period to ask the supervisors to consider our request to present the petition at an upcoming meeting.
Supervisor Reed said the request was not on the agenda so the supervisors couldn’t discuss it.
How JFAN Got the Issue Addressed
JFAN Executive Director Diane Rosenberg then asked if they would put a discussion of whether the supervisors would allow JFAN to officially present the petition on the agenda of the next supervisor meeting, but Supervisor Reed resisted.
All the supporters spoke up in favor of allowing this presentation to take place. We reminded the supervisors the moratorium was a temporary pause until either the Master Matrix was adequately repaired or Iowa’s water quality was addressed. That they represented all of Jefferson County. That with our deteriorating water quality, wasn’t it just wise to act to get this problem under control before it was too late? That Iowa CAFO regulations were weak, don’t do enough to protect people and the environment, and could do so much more to address odor and water quality concerns.
A retired farmer made the request in her official capacity of Walnut Township Trustee. She shared how she and her husband were sickened by the odors and dust and that many farmers don’t like living near CAFOs. Rosenberg said she works with many county individuals with similar experiences who are often reluctant to speak out for fear of being a bad neighbor. She also shared that some Jefferson County residents have left the state because of the harms experienced by nearby CAFOs.
We pointed out that there were a lot of people supporting the call for a resolution. That nine counties, nearly all rural, have called for a moratorium. That a resolution would express public support and go a long way to add to a growing grassroots movement to pressure the state legislature to eventually address CAFO issues and create better regulations. That no one expects this to take place overnight.
The Supervisors' Response
Supervisors Dimmitt and Reed both had many reasons to not want to address the resolution, and these were some they voiced: The state legislature won’t pass a moratorium; it’s a waste of time. Talk to your legislators. Send them the petition (note - there is a different petition for our legislators). It would divide the county. Young contract growers had the right to build CAFOs. A resolution would make a small number of people happy and a larger number unhappy. Cities were encroaching upon agricultural lands. A lot of water pollution comes from municipalities. Human sewage sludge is applied to fields.
In the end, Supervisors Reed and Dimmitt refused to add our petition presentation and formal request to the agenda of a future supervisor meeting. Supervisor Sandquist didn’t comment, but she agreed that there were odor control measures that could be put in place to address air quality.
JFAN is not giving up.
Jefferson County supervisors represent all Jefferson County citizens. 1200 people – 10% of the Jefferson County voters – have already signed the JFAN petition. It’s JFAN’s conviction that it’s within our democratic right to at least be able to present this petition formally to our supervisors. It’s within their right to then decide how to act. And it’s our collective responsibility to let them know how we would like them to vote on this issue.
WHAT YOU CAN DO – KEEP THE FOCUS ON OUR SUPERVISORS
JFAN is formulating another approach to make this petition presentation and formal request. We will need your help, and we will share this approach with you shortly.
In the meantime, if you want Jefferson County to join the 9 other counties calling for a CAFO moratorium, please help in any of the following ways:
1. Sign our petition if you haven't already. We’re at 1200 signatures; let’s get to 1500 or more. Please share widely with your Jefferson County friends. (This is not the MoveOn petition; if you’ve signed that or the paper petition, no need to sign again.)
2. Contact Supervisors Dick Reed, Dee Sandquist, and Lee Dimmitt and let them know you are a constituent and you support a CAFO moratorium resolution. See the contact information below.
3. Write letters to the editor in support of a resolution Talking points here.
4. Contact JFAN at 641-209-6600 or email@example.com if you can help gather petition signatures.
JFAN didn’t expect this would be easy. But if we can demonstrate that a large number of Jefferson County residents support the moratorium resolution, it will force our supervisors to deeply consider exactly whom they are representing.
Thank you for all your support and for all you do to help protect Jefferson County and our state.
CONTACT INFO FOR JEFFERSON COUNTY SUPERVISORS:
Lee Dimmitt – 641-919-9547 (cell); email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Dee Sandquist – 641-451-1293 (cell); email: email@example.com
Dick Reed – 641-919-8262 (cell); 641-472-6555 (home); email: firstname.lastname@example.org