The following letter appeared in the August 16, 2018 edition the Fairfield Ledger.
Concerned about the Daniels Site and the introduction of corporate farming into Jefferson County? Take action here.
To the Editor:
This month businessman Bill Huber proposed a 7497-head industrial hog confinement for Penn Township in Jefferson County. The CAFO, Daniels Site, will be 2.5 miles west of the city of Pleasant Plain and will generate 2.3 million gallons of manure annually, according to his DNR application.
This is the largest CAFO to come to Jefferson County and sits in the Lake Darling watershed. Although the lake went through a multi-million renovation, it’s still suffering from water pollution problems caused by E.coli and blue-green algae blooms.
Mr. Huber, who is not a Jefferson County resident, has ownership interest in 21 other hog confinements in four nearby counties. In fact, we understand he is a partner with Agri-Way Partners, a grain company in Wayland that in 2014 expanded into hog production with plans to build 40* CAFOs in southeast Iowa.
Mr. Huber’s company can be likened to a small scale Smithfield and represents a different type of CAFO ownership than the local contract grower that typically owns hog confinements in the county. This is not good.
On Monday, August 13, the Jefferson County Board of Supervisors met to score the Master Matrix, which was self scored at 505 points. Jefferson County Farmers & Neighbors, Inc. (JFAN) closely reviewed the Matrix and discovered four questions we felt didn’t merit the 70 points taken. We made a strong case to the supervisors to hold this CAFO to the highest standards intended by law given the ecological and community impact of this enormous confinement. Had they done so, the Matrix would have failed at 435 points.
While Supervisors Lee Dimmitt, Dee Sandquist and Dick Reed did give thoughtful consideration to the points JFAN raised, in the end, it’s our conviction they lacked the courage to score the Master Matrix with the high standards JFAN urged and that such industrial operations require.
This is just not acceptable. This was the county’s one opportunity to have some say on a confinement that may not only cause significant harm, but could open the door to more large-scale corporate farming.
Poignantly, one local organic century farmer employing six people less than two miles from the CAFO site emotionally spoke of her angst over the impending odors. Mr. Huber outrageously claimed his 7500-head CAFO wouldn’t smell except for when manure was applied. Really? He is currently in a lawsuit in Des Moines County because neighbors report odors are causing them serious harm.
Further, the supervisors will not hold a public hearing as they typically do. Why? The supervisors said there wasn’t time to organize one according to DNR deadlines. However, if they had acted proactively as in the past, there would have been plenty of time to do just that.
But, as Supervisor Dimmitt said Monday morning, he’s heard it all before.
Where our supervisors should have failed this Master Matrix, they failed Jefferson County residents by favoring an industrial operation proposed by a wealthy businessman and corporate entity that may cause substantial harm to our county.
* Correction - An article published in the April 27, 2014 Burlington Hawkeye, "Agri-Way Makes Major Commitment" reports the actual number of intended CAFOs for southeast Iowa is 48.