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Want Stronger CAFO Regulations? Then Let’s Stop SF 2370

Iowa waterway
Photo: Shutterstock.com/jph9362

by Diane Rosenberg | Executive Director


With 721 polluted waterways, it’s clear Iowa’s factory farm rules and regulations don’t adequately safeguard water quality or public health. Stronger CAFO regulations are needed to protect water quality from worsening.

 

Yet a section of Senate File 2370 – passed by the Senate and now being considered in the Iowa House – would permanently prohibit the DNR from strengthening CAFO regulations. It codifies Executive Order Number 10 (EO10), enacted by Governor Kim Reynolds in January 2023, which mandated every state agency conduct a comprehensive overhaul of the Iowa Administrative Code in order to promote private sector development.

 

EO10 required a retrospective evaluation of all rules and regulations including a rigorous cost-benefit analysis in order to eliminate “burdensome” regulations and restrictive terms. Rules can be weakened, not strengthened.

 

While SF 2370 would impact all state agencies, let’s look at how it would affect everyone in Iowa who cares about clean water.

 

The DNR would be permanently prohibited from strengthening CAFO regulations designed to protect water quality and public health. All rules must continue to be justified with a cost-benefit analysis that ultimately benefits the CAFO industry, not Iowans.

 

The most environmental advocates could do is work to maintain the inadequate status quo.

 

But the CAFO industry could recommend language that lessens the regulatory burden on CAFO owners and operators, as they did during this year’s revision of Chapter 65, the section of the Iowa Code that governs CAFOs. An overhaul would be required every five years, giving the industry opportunities to further degrade regulations.

 

Major changes that are needed for the DNR to get a grip on manure application statewide and reduce the incidence of manure overapplication, such as a digitized manure management plan/mapping system, would be an impossibility.

 

The DNR could even be allowed to forgo public comments for a rule or retrospective analysis if it finds good cause that the input would be “unnecessary, impracticable or contrary to the public interest.”

 

This year we saw how EO10 directly impacted the recent revision of Chapter 65. A draft sent to the governor’s office included a few new protections for CAFOs built in risky karst terrain.

 

Yet the governor’s office refused to approve the much-needed improvements because they didn’t comply with EO10, as reported in the February 19 Gazette. Rural residents with private wells remain at risk for high nitrate consumption, which studies link to several cancers and birth defects.  

 

Half of Iowa’s tested waterways are polluted, over 12,000 wells are contaminated with high levels of nitrate, and the state ranks second in the nation for cancer. It’s the only state where the number of cancer cases is rising significantly.

 

Water quality is increasingly a concern of Iowans, even though the majority of state legislators ignore this issue.

 

Codifying EO10 in SF 2370 benefits no one but the CAFO industry, imposing a race to the bottom for CAFO regulations.

 

Contact your representative today and urge them to remove language on Executive Order Number 10 from SF 2370 and put the health and wellbeing of Iowans before the financial interests of the multibillion-dollar livestock industry.

 

 

 

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