At a supervisors meeting several weeks ago, Jefferson County residents asked Supervisors Dick Reed, Dee Sandquist and Lee Dimmitt to consider a resolution calling for a statewide factory farm moratorium.
The moratorium would temporarily halt new and expanding confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs) until there were less than 100 water impairments and/or until the Master Matrix was adequately overhauled to effectively protect communities and the environment.
So far, nine counties either passed a resolution or submitted a letter in support of a moratorium. “[T]he CAFO industry is getting out of control,” wrote Webster County supervisors.
Since that meeting, hundreds of Jefferson County residents voiced their support through petitions, emails, phone calls, letters to the editor, postcards and more. A resolution simply states public support.
This is the kind of thing that gets the attention of state legislators.
Now our supervisors will consider whether to officially allow JFAN to present over 1,100 petition signatures and formally request the adoption of a resolution during a future board meeting.
Jefferson County supervisors were elected to represent Jefferson County residents. That certainly includes the 12.4 percent employed in agriculture and ag-related businesses as reported in a Coalition to Support Iowa Farmers publication.
But our supervisors were elected to represent all county residents. This includes many long-time farmers and residents living near CAFOs who wish they weren’t. Or others who pray a confinement won’t be built nearby.
It includes neighbors who can’t open their windows because the CAFO odors can be unbearable. Children who are at greater risk for asthma because studies show higher instances when there’s a confinement nearby.
The infirm with respiratory ailments that may worsen from breathing air laced with hydrogen sulfide, ammonia and particulates. Or the elderly whose fragile health may weaken from polluted air and those concerned about contracting antibiotic resistant infections from manure applied on nearby fields.
It includes farmers working their land only to come away with blinding headaches and nausea from breathing in the CAFO stench. Families who invested tens of thousands of dollars in homes, creating a haven for their loved ones, now facing the likelihood of property devaluation.
And there are those who simply want the right to enjoy their property, entertain outdoors, dry clothes in fresh air, garden, or have their children play in yards – all the things one takes for granted about living a peaceful life in a place they call home without being afflicted with debilitating odors and overwhelming flies.
As Executive Director of JFAN, I speak with many people throughout the county who experience all this and more. I see the suffering first hand and hear frustration and pain that they might otherwise choose to keep to themselves for fear of being a bad neighbor.
These are the citizens of Jefferson County that our supervisors also represent.
As our supervisors decide whether to allow JFAN to present the petition and make a formal request to adopt a CAFO moratorium resolution, we simply ask that they remember that they represent these Jefferson County residents, too.