Iowans have an opportunity to recommend changes to the rules that govern how CAFOs are regulated.
The Iowa Department of Natural Resources is currently undergoing its 5-Year Rules Review of Chapter 65, the section of the Iowa Administrative Code that governs the operation of CAFOs and open feedlots. During this process, all the rules – written guidance that interprets and implements laws passed by the state legislature – are reviewed and subject to changes to better fit the intentions of the laws.
JFAN and the Iowa Environmental Council organized a coalition of ten organizations that are reviewing different sections of the rules according to their areas of expertise and interest. JFAN is especially focused on closing the LLC loophole which enables adjacent commonly owned CAFOs operating as separate LLCs to be treated as one larger confinement. The rule was supposedly changed in 2019, but during the first test of its effectiveness in Jefferson County in 2020, we learned the loophole is still alive and well.
DNR Pushed to Change Its Rules Review Process
This year, the DNR is handling the 5 Year Rules Review a little differently than in the past.
Previously the DNR would conduct an internal review of the rules, make their own revisions, then initiate a formal rulemaking process involving many opportunities for public comment on their draft.
However, during the 2016 rules review JFAN learned that some industry groups worked with the DNR in the early phase of drafting changes before releasing the rules to the public. Records obtained during the execution of a Freedom of Information Act public records request initiated by the Iowa Alliance for Responsible Agriculture (IARA) confirmed individuals representing Farm Bureau, Iowa Pork Producers Council, and Iowa Cattlemen’s Association were involved.
JFAN, IARA and other organizations demanded environmental and community groups be among the early stakeholders to review the rules along with the agricultural groups before the formal public process began.
As a result, this year the DNR opened up the early comment period to all organizations and individuals for initial comments to their proposed changes before finalizing a draft that will then be submitted to the Governor’s office for preclearance. The formal rulemaking process proceeds after that.
In essence we have two opportunities to make recommendations, with this first round potentially having more impact.
How to Comment
We encourage JFAN supporters to participate in both phases of the rules review. The rules in Chapter 65 can be viewed here. Written comments can be made here AFO@dnr.iowa.gov All written comments must be received by Friday, October 7.
JFAN is in the process of analyzing the rules and will put together some initialthat we’ll share with you later this month. Stay tuned.