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JFAN LTE: CAFO Bills Come Before Legislature

Updated: Jan 20, 2021

Last summer, in the midst of high-profile CAFO fights, Jefferson County supervisors repeatedly claimed they had no authority to stop CAFOs community members opposed. Instead they directed constituents to reach out directly to state legislators to fix CAFO problems.

The 2019 Iowa Legislative Session is in full swing and several bills are introduced that could make some desperately needed changes to factory farming. Here’s an opportunity to take this up with our state legislators.

Several bills are worth supporting, but we believe the following deserve the most attention.

HF 202 – Local Control. This bill would enable county supervisors to create an ordinance with the authority to approve or deny a CAFO according to standards they determine. These standards can go beyond state regulations and could conceivably take into account factors such as community opposition, greater separation distances, or threats to waterways.

SF 20 – Abolishes the LLC Loophole. Current Iowa law recognizes an LLC as the legal owner of a factory farm, not the individual(s) that own the LLC. This enables CAFO owners to build smaller adjacent CAFOs in different LLC names as stand-alone confinements, bypassing regulations that are required of one larger CAFO. Jefferson County has a number of CAFO owners who used this loophole to avoid the Master Matrix, greater separation distances, and sometimes even manure management plans.

SF 20 would close that loophole by defining common ownership in greater detail and would include common owners of LLC’s.

These bills provide some important fixes, but they don’t address the complexity of problems caused by industrial livestock production, such as water pollution, public health threats, and degradation of rural economies.

However, there is one bill that can start to point us in that direction: HF 203, a factory farm moratorium on new or expanding CAFOs introduced last week by Rep. Sharon Steckman. Sen. Claire Celsi’s companion bill is expected shortly.

Iowa has 23.3 million hogs according to the December USDA report and approximately 13,000 CAFOs according to the Iowa DNR. With 750 polluted waterways, we don’t need more. What we need is a pause in CAFO expansion so we can make changes to improve livestock production in Iowa.

HF 203 would not only temporarily halt CAFO development, it would also establish an interim study committee, providing an opportunity to dig in and seriously address the many problems associated with factory farms.

Calls for a moratorium are growing from all corners of the state. Momentum for this legislation is growing. The number of cosponsors has more than doubled from last year’s moratorium bills.

We can make our support for HF 203 and the Senate version known loud and clear at the Factory Farm Moratorium Lobby Day and Rally on Thursday February 21 at the Iowa State Capitol organized by Iowa Alliance for Responsible Agriculture, Food & Water Watch and Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement. Our legislators need to hear from Iowans who are fed up with the CAFOs that threaten communities and the environment. Find more information on the lobby day at

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