Here are more letters to the editor to share with you. These letters were published in the last two weeks of the Fairfield Ledger. Community members are continuing to speak out. Keep it up!
Published in the September 6, 2018 Fairfield Ledger
Other Counties Getting Strict On CAFOs
To the editor:
Lee Dimmitt, in his Aug. 23 letter to The Ledger, said that if county supervisors take away points on a Master Matrix scoring, and the Department of Natural Resources disagrees with them, the DNR will take away the county’s ability to use the Master Matrix. That is false. That has never happened.
If the DNR disagrees with a county scoring and reinstates Master Matrix points which county supervisors have denied, the county can appeal those points with the Iowa Environmental Protection Commission. It happened a number of times when I served on the EPC.
It appears that the Jefferson County Supervisors are more concerned about not offending CAFO owners — even an out-of-county owner with 21 other CAFOs — than they are about protecting the health and quality of life of rural residents. Increasingly, other county boards across Iowa are recognizing that the proliferation of CAFOs poses a threat to their county and that the Master Matrix is a sham. They are taking stronger stands.
Some counties are becoming very strict in their scoring of Master Matrix points. Some county boards have even refused to pass a Master Matrix application that scores enough points, because they are interested in protecting the rights of their citizens over the profits of CAFO owners. Some county boards in Iowa have called for a moratorium on new CAFOs.
Make no mistake about it: many Iowa citizens have had their health and quality of life severely compromised when CAFOs moved into their neighborhoods. Published studies in peer-reviewed scientific journals have documented the detrimental health effects of living near CAFOs.
When I served a four-year term on the Iowa Environmental Protection Commission, I heard many first-hand accounts of how people’s lives were turned upside down when a CAFO moved into their neighborhood.
Some had to seal their houses airtight. Some had to live in their basements. Quite a number have had to abandon their homes completely and move elsewhere. These are serious infringements on people’s rights as citizens. How can we allow this to happen in Iowa?
Eventually, after enough people have been harmed, after enough people have had their rights trampled over, Iowa citizens will rise up to end this CAFO charade. In the meantime, we have to do what we can to protect ourselves. County boards of supervisors can either lead the charge or wither in fear of offending CAFO owners and the agricultural status quo.
– Francis Thicke, Fairfield
Supervisors Should Take Stand Against CAFOs
To the editor:
The Ledger recently printed letters from Jefferson County Supervisors Lee Dimmitt and Dee Sandquist, defending the board’s handling of CAFO (hog confinement) applications. The supervisors’ overall position is that their hands are tied as to what they can do about CAFOs, no matter what local citizens think about them, because the state sets the rules.
It is true that we do not have local control in Iowa, and counties and communities do not have the right to decide what is best for their own people, even about matters of serious local concern.
However, it is not true that there is nothing our county supervisors can do.
1. Supervisors, like any other citizens, have the right to express their own opinions and values, as boldly as they like. Look at other elected officials at every level of government, and ask yourself - do they keep their views to themselves, under a cloak of neutrality? Or do they use their various bully pulpits to try to move public opinion, and their constituents, in the directions they think are important?
If any of our supervisors believed that the proliferation of large CAFOs in our county threatens our quality of life (from the smell, damage to waterways, antibiotic resistance, allergic and asthmatic responses, loss of property values and more) nothing stops them from saying so. Except, perhaps, a reluctance to irritate that small percentage of the population that actively supports the growth of CAFOs, or an inappropriate sense that as supervisors they must always be noncommittal.
2. When the supervisors grade the Master Matrix for a CAFO (the scoring system that comes from the DNR), there is a certain amount of flexibility in the scoring. One can choose, that is, to be more or less strict. If the onslaught of factory farms is seen as a matter of serious concern (as it clearly is seen by many citizens) there is ample justification to interpret the Matrix as strictly as possible, within the bounds of the law. One incurs no penalty in doing so: the state will not revoke a county’s right to use the Matrix simply because a county is being strict.
3. The supervisors can ensure that there is always public discussion about new or expanded CAFO operations, with ample public notice.
4. As other boards of supervisors in Iowa have done, our supervisors could take an active stand on CAFOs – directly encouraging the state to revise and strengthen the safeguards against the proliferation of factory livestock operations.
Our supervisors have a voice, and they, like all of us, can use it. We should expect forthrightness and boldness in our elected officials, not an attitude of “nothing we can do” and a retreat into passive neutrality. The officials we elect are called leaders for a reason.
– Thom Krystofiak, Fairfield
Published in the August 30, 2018 Fairfield Ledger
CAFOs Put Way Of Life In Jeopardy
To the editor:
Two weeks ago, 40 disgruntled rural homeowners met with confined animal feeding operation operator Mike Keller and TriOak officials to express their extreme displeasure with the new CAFO they’ve started to build virtually in our backyard.
With 1,249 hogs, this will be one of the closest CAFOs to the city of Fairfield, and will directly affect 115 households within a 2-mile radius. Based on the experience of other neighbors with CAFOs close by, we anticipate days when we won’t be able to sit on the porch or even open a window. Our property values will plummet. And someday, we fear, we may have to abandon our homes altogether when they become unlivable and unsellable at any price.
Ironically, the day before our meeting, I received a phone call from an anonymous farmer who confided that he also opposed the Keller CAFO, but wouldn’t go public for fear of being ID’d as a traitor by his fellow farmers. Sadly, many Iowa farmers are in this boat, and I appreciate their predicament. But Iowa farmers have smarts, grit, and heart, and pride themselves on being good neighbors. More than a few are courageously opposing CAFOs, and there must be many more who feel the same way.
Farmers need to think of their children and grandchildren. In contrast to the myths promoted by TriOak and other integrators about factory farms being the family farms of the future, there’s plenty of scientific proof that CAFOs are a health hazard, a threat to waterways, groundwater and air quality, and bottom line—a lousy excuse for farming. Factory and farming should never be used in the same sentence because they’re antithetical.
Instead of anticipating financial rewards from CAFOs, farmers and non-farmers alike should prepare for an upsurge in antibiotic-resistant infections and respiratory problems, not to mention the wanton destruction of the beautiful Iowa countryside.
Putrid tons of pig excrement is not the smell of money ... except for industrial integrators like TriOak.
I don’t have a beef with pig farming, which has been an Iowa tradition for decades. I do have a problem with Iowans being manipulated by corporations and special interests that have bought and controlled our elected officials in Des Moines, D.C. and at the DNR — and opened the door to unwanted CAFO expansion.
For the tide to turn, it’s time for us to turn to Iowa’s farmers whose dissenting voices need to be heard. Instead of allowing CAFOs to ride roughshod over our state, it’s time for our strong farmers to stand in solidarity with their neighbors for real farming which is our heritage.
Today, our way of life is in serious jeopardy. We applaud Iowa farmers who’ve already opposed CAFO expansion, and thank all the others who are now prepared to take a stand. Thank you for being courageous and letting others hear your opposition to the CAFO scourge that’s overtaking our state. We can’t stop the CAFO onslaught without your help! We’re all in this together.
– Dean Draznin, Fairfield
Be more aggressive against CAFOs
To the editor:
Lee Dimmitt, Jefferson County Supervisor, recently demonstrated great pride in the fact that he and his fellow supervisors have never had a Master Matrix plan overridden by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (see his letter to the editor of Aug. 23).
This is analogous to a high school basketball player bragging to his coach that he never commits fouls, disregarding the fact that his individual opponents are averaging 20-plus points and 15 rebounds per game against him. At this point, even a middling coach would urge the lad to “be more aggressive on defense!”
If the supervisors would likewise put more effort into defending the quality of life of Jefferson County residents, Master Matrix be darned, then maybe, just maybe, the big ag-friendly DNR will begin to take more seriously their mandate to protect the quality of air, land and water for all Iowans and stop the dangerous and loathsome proliferation of CAFOs in our state.
– Barney Potratz, Fairfield