JFAN Urged Supervisors to Fail Matrix to Express Community Discontent with the Regulatory Process
It was unanimous. The Jefferson County Supervisors voted to pass the Hill View Site #2 Master Matrix at a public scoring session at the supervisors’ office on Friday morning, May 21. The CAFO, proposed by the father/son partnership of Tom and Jacob Adam, will contain 3720 hogs in two buildings at 2704 Salina Avenue in Buchanan Township, three quarters of a mile west of their current 3600 head confinement on Salina Road. The CAFO is over five miles away from Fairfield and Maharishi Vedic City. The owners took 500 points on the Matrix; 440 out of a possible 880 points is all that is required to pass.
Only 10 people were allowed to attend in person due to COVID restrictions in place: Supervisors Dee Sandquist, Daryn Hamilton, and Susie Drish; CAFO co-owner Jacob Adam; Rachel Rinner, owner of Knee Deep Solutions, the company that prepared the Matrix and Construction Permit; JFAN board member Dr. John Ikerd; and other courthouse staff.
Approximately 50 members of the public attended via Zoom including JFAN President and Executive Director Diane Rosenberg, several other JFAN board members, State Representative Jeff Shipley, and State Senator Adrian Dickey. The vast majority of those in attendance were opposed to the confinement.
JFAN did an in-depth analysis of the Master Matrix prior to the scoring session and found three questions totaling 90 points that were questionable. The Adam’s took 30 points for Question 5, which required the confinement to be built 300 feet from the roadway. The CAFO would be sited 302’ away.
Dr. Ikerd asked the supervisors to take into consideration that there was room for error in siting the CAFO exactly 302’ away from the road and encouraged them to deny the 30 points for this question. The DNR, who came out and confirmed all the separation distances involved, took the measurement from stakes set in the ground and will not measure the distance once construction begins. However, the law requires the points to be awarded based on what is planned on paper. The DNR will only come out if a valid complaint is filed.
Many of the questions that the Adam's took required design, operation and maintenance plans to be submitted with the Matrix. Question 17, “Proposed storage structure is formed” addresses the building of the confinement pit itself and requires submission of these plans. JFAN found the maintenance plans lacking in substance. Dr. Ikerd pointed out the maintenance plans didn’t say how often the concrete pit would be checked for cracks, give information as to how quickly problems will be reported and resolved, nor provide information as to which contractors would be called upon.
“Cracking of manure pit concrete can release manure into surface and/or groundwater. If that happens, it is important that the problem be fixed quickly. The plan should detail preparedness for that possibility,” we stated in our written report submitted to all three supervisors prior to the scoring session.
Adam countered that tiling outside the pit would expose any manure leakage and that the type of water/feeder mechanism they will use will cut down on the amount of manure generated. Because of the depth of the pit, the pit won’t even fill up, said Adam. The CAFO will generate nearly 900,000 gallons of liquid hog sewage. The supervisors granted 30 points for this question.
Dr. Ikerd also objected to the 30 points taken for Question 26, liquid or dry manure would be injected or incorporated the same day it is land applied. Again, he pointed out that there wasn’t sufficient documentation to prove the Adam had a signed agreement with a manure hauler that would guarantee this would take place.
Adam said they didn’t specify this information because technology is always changing. He also said the DNR would make sure the manure was being applied in the way the application designated.
Rosenberg pointed out that the DNR does not actively ensure manure management plans are followed and that manure application records are confidential. The DNR can only look at those records if there is a complaint, she said, and the manure management plan, which designates the fields receiving manure and the rate of application, is just a plan on paper, subject to change at any time by a CAFO owner. She added the DNR doesn’t have enough staff to even carry out proactive inspections even if it was legal.
The supervisors granted 30 points for this question.
Knee Deep Solutions owner Rachel Rinner provided information on many of the questions selected and said Adam went above and beyond what was required by choosing elective questions to bring the Matrix to 500 points. However, in our analysis we found actions such as incorporating biofilters to reduce the CAFO odor, using air quality modeling to demonstrate an odor annoyance rate of 2% or less of the time for neighbors, having the approval of neighbors within a 1 mile radius, or not applying manure on highly erodible land were not were not among the electives chosen.
Neither were questions allowing neighbors to view manure management plans, bringing in additional economic development to the community, or adding to the county’s property tax base. These are more substantive actions that could reduce the impact on neighbors, the environment, and rural economic vitality.
After all the questions were reviewed, the public was invited to make comments on the plan with the direction to not repeat concerns already voiced.
Several individuals voiced their objection to the Master Matrix citing impact on neighbors, impacts to water quality and producing a poor quality of meat laden with antibiotics and hormones.
Dr. Ikerd referenced the May 10, 2021 Washington Post article reporting that the National Academy of Sciences found 17,900 people die every year from air pollution from agricultural practices, more than those who die from the burning of coal.
Rosenberg urged the supervisors to fail the Master Matrix even though it had enough points to pass in order to make a statement to state legislators that the regulatory system is insufficient and inadequate.
“Twenty six counties have called for a CAFO moratorium until the Master Matrix is overhauled and many other counties have failed CAFO applications even though the Matrix has enough points to pass in order to make a strong statement to state legislators that the regulatory system needs significant improvement, she said.
"The DNR will pass this application even if you fail it. I know most of the people at this public scoring session, and they are opposed to additional CAFO expansion in Jefferson County. We don’t want our county to become laden with CAFOs like Keokuk or Washington Counties. You are given the right to deny a Master Matrix for any reason by the resolution that you sign every year adopting the Matrix.”
The Southeast Iowa Union reported that Supervisor Hamilton was opposed to this approach citing that if a county failed an application with a passing Matrix score, it could lose its ability to adopt a Master Matrix every year. JFAN would like to correct this misperception and point out that regulations don’t penalize counties in this way. There is nothing in Chapter 65 of the Iowa Code governing Animal Feeding Operations that states this.
Supervisor Sanquist acknowledged that the Matrix is out of date and flawed and that a separate board meeting needs to convene to discuss calling for a moratorium until the application is satisfactorily revised. Citing 26 homes within a 1.5 miles of the confinement, including her own, she said one of her main concerns with the Master Matrix is that population density is not addressed well enough.
She also encouraged Adam to use conservation efforts, and asked if cover crops were planned on the fields receiving manure, which Adam said would take place.
Supervisor Sanquist made the motion to pass the Matrix, Supervisor Drish seconded it, and all three supervisors voted to pass.
JFAN will be reaching out to all three county supervisors to discuss the county’s adoption of a resolution or letter in support of a CAFO moratorium in the near future. While we were disappointed with the outcome of the public scoring session, it’s our opinion that there may be increasing receptivity among the current supervisors to calling for such a change. We will keep you posted of these efforts.
In the meantime, continue to let your state legislators know how you feel about the growth of CAFOs in Iowa and let Supervisors Sandquist, Hamilton and Drish know you want Jefferson County to become the 27th county to call for a CAFO moratorium.