We have another opportunity to submit public comments on the latest revision to Chapter 65. This is a particularly important phase because it also includes the cost/benefit analysis provided in the Regulatory Analysis as required under Executive Order Number 10.
The governor’s office will weigh the Regulatory Analysis along with the Chapter 65 draft when deciding whether these rules should be adopted.
We need to make a strong case NOW that the costs to Iowans from the public health and environmental impacts of weakly regulated CAFOs far outweigh the cost for CAFO owners to comply with them.
We only have a short window of time: all public comments are due by 4:30 pm, Tuesday, September 26. You can also participate in a public hearing that day from 11 am – 1 pm either in person at the Wallace State Office Building, 502 East Ninth Street in Des Moines or via Zoom. Contact AFO@dnr.iowa.org if you wish to speak at the hearing or if you wish to attend via Zoom.
You can also mail written comments to Ms. Book at the following address:
Iowa Department of Natural Resources
Wallace State Office Building
502 East Ninth Street
Des Moines, IA 50319
All emailed and written comments must be received by 4:30 pm, Tuesday, September 26.
We applaud the DNR’s adoption of a few of the recommendations JFAN, the Iowa Environmental Council, and other industry groups made.
However, there are at least three critical areas that are falling short, and we urge you to comment on them.
IMPORTANT ISSUES TO ADDRESS
Regulatory Analysis: The DNR rightfully acknowledges that the benefits to public health and the environment outweigh the cost of complying with CAFOs rules. Yet while they provide detailed costs for CAFOs to follow regulations, the DNR only provides paltry figures on the economic tourism impacts of sports fishing in Iowa.
The Regulatory Analysis ignores the carefully researched figures provided by the Iowa Environmental Council and referenced by JFAN in our last set of comments. These demonstrate the weighty externalized costs CAFOs inflict on public health and water quality.
That’s completely inadequate. The governor’s office is going to be making decisions looking at these numbers. The following figures should be included in the Regulatory Analysis:
Direct medical expenses: $7.25 – 27.5 million/year
Indirect medical expenses $35-167.5 million/year
Public water supply treatment costs $165 million/year
Private well treatment for Iowans $4 – $7 million/year
Tourism economic benefits: $9.4 billion impact with $6.1 billion in direct spending and $1 billion in state and local taxes generated in 2021.
Tell the DNR to include these critical figures on public health and water quality in the Regulatory Analysis!
Closing the LLC Loophole: The DNR made another attempt to close the LLC loophole but it’s still insufficient. They propose adjacent LLC owners list the actual percentage of their holdings in each CAFO on an application form. While that may sound good, it’s not enough because:
The DNR doesn’t require LLC owners provide proof of their claims. We’ve recently learned that an Operating Agreement, developed when an LLC is formed, clearly states the percentage each owner has in an LLC. This is what the DNR must require to prove LLC ownership.
Further, the DNR is asking for this information ONLY for permitted CAFOs – those over 2500 hogs. As we all know, many more are built just shy of that magic number to avoid permitting and the Master Matrix – these are the sizes that get the most benefit out of the LLC loophole. ALL adjacent CAFOs that are in different LLC names, regardless of the size, should be required to submit an Operating Agreement.
Tell the DNR to require a legally signed Operating Agreement to prove the percentage that LLC owners hold in adjacent CAFOs regardless of size.
Manure Management Plans: A good chunk of the manure management plan rules are deleted and referenced to the online statute. Incorrect manure application directly impacts our water quality, and the rules and regulations should be very clear and in one place. The DNR shouldn’t send Iowans on a hunt to learn the laws in order to satisfy Executive Order Number 10's required reduced word count. That does no service to Iowans and risks a CAFO owner missing critical details designed to protect Iowa's waterways.
Recommended practices for applying manure are also deleted. These should be returned to provide guidance for manure application. Omitting them implies a lack of their importance. Iowa’s water quality is abysmal, and we should be encouraging practices that better protect it.
Jefferson County has several fields throughout the county that are in more than one manure management plan – some are in as many as five - and we've shared this with the DNR. The current system of paper copies of manure management plans that sit in banks of filing cabinets is inefficient, confusing, and does not allow the DNR nor the general public to see if fields are getting manure from more than one CAFO. The solution is for the DNR to develop a database for submission of these plans and a geospatial mapping tool so the DNR knows exactly how much manure is going where and when.
Tell the DNR to return all the MMP regulatory language and the recommended practices to the rules and to develop an online manure management plan database and geospatial mapping to manage these plans.
All comments are due by 4:30 pm on Tuesday, September 26.
Thank you for taking action to help protect the public health and water quality for all Iowans.