DNR Is Accepting Comments to Strengthen Regulations Until Friday, June 16 at 4:30 pm
Now is the time to provide comments to the Iowa DNR on the changes they are proposing to Chapter 65 of the administrative code, the rules and regulations that govern CAFOs. We need to tell them to strengthen CAFO regulations.
Last summer JFAN recommended 28 pages of recommendations to improve the how CAFOs are regulated. A few small ones were implemented, but most were not. Now that the DNR revised Chapter 65 under the dictates of Executive Order Number Ten, we add six more below, adding to our previous comments. We will send the DNR these new additions as well.
It’s also very important the DNR also hears from you and from Iowans around the state. We need to ensure that those who support clean air, clean water, and good public health are heard loud and clear.
All comments are due THIS Friday, June 16 by 4:30 pm. Send them to the DNR at: AFO@dnr.iowa.gov
The DNR told us that they will only seriously consider specific recommendations. We’ve put several of JFAN’s recommendations together for you including references as to where these are found in the chapter. Feel free to write your own or copy and paste these recommendations for your comments:
1. Finish closing the LLC Loophole by adding to the definition of “common ownership” [65.1(1)] by requiring an affidavit signed under oath. There are a good number of adjacently built CAFOs under individual LLC names that are suspected of being commonly owned. The DNR attempted to close that loophole in 2019 by requiring each individual CAFO owner to disclose the percentage of ownership they held in the adjacent CAFO. If 10% or more interest was held, the two (or more) CAFOs would be considered one larger commonly owned CAFO and subject to more stringent regulations required of a larger CAFO. This was a good start.
The problem is that the DNR only requires a letter to state ownership. That’s not enough! It has no legal weight. In Jefferson County, one quarter of the CAFOs are suspected of being commonly owned. A DNR affidavit signed under oath would give greater legal teeth and accountability to identify common ownership in adjacent CAFOs.
2. Continue to list all the definitions in 65.1(1) in the code. One of the goals of Executive Order Number Ten is to reduce the length of the code. One way the DNR is doing that is to remove half of the 150 definitions that form the basis for understanding the rules and regulations. Instead, they state the definition can be found in the actual statute – without even listing the terms that can be found there. This will create confusion. JFAN strongly recommends the DNR at least lists the term with a direct reference to the statute rather than leave it out altogether.
3. Revise the definition of public use area to include trails [65.1(1)]. Trails are an important and popular source of outdoor activity, and in some places bring in tourism dollars. Iowa holds less than 3% of public land; let’s protect the small amount we have for public enjoyment.
4. Change manure application guidelines to be required practices. [former 65.3(5)] The DNR is removing a long list of practices for applying manure since they are only guidelines and not part of the code. JFAN strongly recommends the DNR now make them part of the code and here are several good reasons why: 92% of nitrogen and 80% of phosphorus pollution is from non-point sources (aka agriculture) – data from the Nutrient Reduction Strategy. As a result, we have 751 impaired waterways, 1120 reported manure spills/runoff/over-application (1996 – 2022), and approximately 4.7 million fish killed (1995-2022) primarily from animal waste – data taken from DNR websites. Need we say more?
5. Keep in language for applying manure to snow-covered or frozen ground. [65.111(13)(e)] While allowable under law, applying manure to snow-covered or frozen ground is already a bad practice. Now the DNR is proposing to remove language that requires identifying land and other manure management plan practices to help prevent this manure from reaching waterways. JFAN recommends the language remain to provide some mitigation of potential water pollution.
There are some good changes that the DNR made, too. Let the DNR know you agree with these. They include:
Increasing the amount of time a board of supervisors has for appealing an approved construction permit from 14 days to 30 days. 65.105(7)
Adding “swimming” to the definition of what constitutes a public use area. 65.1(1)
Requiring manure management plans to calculate fertilizer from manure AND non-manure sources such as anhydrous ammonia. 65.111(13)(c)
But these are not nearly enough. We need big improvements in order to protect Iowans and our waterways.
The deadline for comments is THIS Friday, June 16 at 4:30 pm. Send your comments to the DNR at AFO@dnr.iowa.gov