JFAN LTE: What Our Supervisors CAN Do

The following letter appeared in the August 23 edition of the Fairfield Weekly Reader.

To the editor:

Last week, the Jefferson County Board of Supervisors approved a Master Matrix for the Daniels Site, a 7497-head CAFO 2.5 miles west of the city of Pleasant Plain. Its 2.3 million gallons of manure will be spread in the Lake Darling watershed.

Bill Huber, a partner in Agri-Way Partners, proposed this CAFO. Agri-Way Partners is a grain company that expanded into hogs in 2014 with plans to build 48 confinements in SE Iowa. Huber has ownership interest in 21 other CAFOs and is currently in a lawsuit in Des Moines County brought by neighbors suffering from the stench.

For the first time, our supervisors didn’t hold a public hearing. Many residents have written them expressing dismay and outrage at passing the Matrix and avoiding a public hearing. The supervisors claim there is little that they can do.

No doubt state law limits their actions, but supervisors do have options. For example:

1. They COULD have held a public hearing at a convenient time to lend constituents a voice. Given the Huber application was submitted on July 25, there was plenty of time to schedule and publicize a hearing had they wished.

A new CAFO application with a Master Matrix was submitted late last week. Mark Greiner is expanding his 2499-head confinement to 4998 hogs. The supervisors listened to constituents and scheduled a public hearing for Tuesday, August 28 at 6:30 pm. JFAN applauds them for doing the right thing.

2. They COULD courageously score a Matrix with the high standards an industrial operation like this deserves. JFAN raised valid points on four of the Huber questions that the supervisors thoughtfully considered. They COULD have denied the points and have the DNR review the application without any penalty from the agency as JFAN urged. But now the DNR won’t even look at the Matrix. They have another opportunity with the Greiner Matrix.

3. The supervisors COULD listen to the large number of constituents who oppose CAFOs and take a stand against confinements. They COULD symbolically fail the Matrix. They COULD pass a resolution in support of a moratorium or a stronger Master Matrix. They COULD lobby state legislators and the Iowa State Association of Counties to take a stronger stand. They COULD take these steps to help drive change from the grassroots level if they had a mind to. Other supervisors have.

Our supervisors are not given much to work with, but they are not powerless. The question is will they use that power when they score the Greiner Matrix? They need to hear from you that they should.