“We won’t stop until we get a factory farm moratorium.” That was the rallying cry at the January 25 Iowa Alliance for Responsible Agriculture Lobby Day. House File 2305, reintroduced by Representative Art Staed, and Senate File 124 introduced by Senator Pat Jochum puts moratorium bill back in play for this legislative session. It’s another opportunity to keep the pressure on our state legislators urging them to listen to the 63% of Iowans who want a factory farm moratorium.
House File 2305 includes not only the enactment of a moratorium on factory farms with more than 500 animal units (1250 hogs), but contains the following provisions:
A CAFO would be considered jointly owned by the contract grower and integrator (i.e., corporation that owns the hogs, feed, and that provide veterinary care, and managerial direction). Applications would have to list both parties. The bill creates transparency where none currently exists. This also takes some of the burden off contract growers who are trapped in the current system. If violations occur, half of the financial liability shifts onto the multibillion-dollar corporations.
Further, the production contract with the integrator would have to be submitted with the manure management plan. These contracts are now private. Transparency would provide useful information not only to communities but to farmers considering building a CAFO. Attorneys who review these contracts report they are heavily weighted towards the integrator. This transparency might dissuade some farmers from going down this path.
Federal National Pollutant Elimination Discharge System (NPDES) permits would be required for all large CAFOs. NPDES permits set higher pollution control standards and limits the amount of allowable discharge into waterways. A violation of these permits result in higher federal fines ($5,000 – $50,000/day) than the state currently levies. Iowa doesn’t presently require NPDES permits for CAFOs, taking a position that confinement buildings are designed to not discharge pollutants. However, Iowa wouldn’t have some of the country’s dirtiest waterways if that were always the case.
Rules adopted in this bill may be stronger than those required by the federal Clean Water Act. Currently the DNR can’t adopt rules more stringent than federal rules.
Partially roofed buildings would be included in the moratorium. This is particularly relevant for cattle confinements, which are not considered CAFOs when a roof only covers 90% of a building.
It’s crucial to keep the pressure on our state legislators to support a moratorium. We are building momentum throughout the state, and legislators need to understand that support continues to grow. Change comes with constant attention and effort over time. We all have the ability to help drive the change we want to see.
Here’s what you can do:
Call and write to your legislators. Tell them you support a moratorium and you want a subcommittee hearing scheduled. Make sure they understand that a moratorium will not shut down existing CAFOs but temporarily pause construction until we get a handle on the factory farm crisis.
Your personal story gets through to legislators more than demands. Let them know how CAFOs affect you personally and why a moratorium so important to you.
If your legislator is a cosponsor, thank them for their support. They need to know their effort is appreciated.
Ask your friends and family to contact their legislators too.
Write letters to the editor about why you support a factory farm moratorium.
We have made progress but we need to make more. Nelson Mandela said, “It always seems impossible until it’s done.” Achieving a moratorium will take time, but with sustained efforts, we will get it done.