Fairfield Ledger

Neighbors Growing Together | Oct 25, 2016

JFAN to hold annual meeting Oct. 26

By NICOLE HESTER-WILLIAMS Ledger staff writer | Oct 19, 2016

It’s that time of year again, and the annual Jefferson County Farmers and Neighbors meeting kicks off at 7:15 p.m. Oct. 26, at the Fairfield Arts & Convention Center.

Executive director and president of JFAN, Diane Rosenberg said the meeting’s theme of, “Reclaiming the Soul of Iowa: Why We Need a Factory Farm Moratorium,” would be a little different this year.

“JFAN is one of more than 20 members of the Iowa Alliance for Responsible Agriculture. We just launched last month with a campaign calling for a factory farm moratorium until there are less than 100 water impairments in Iowa,” Rosenberg said. “This is a big, new campaign, and we are excited about it. JFAN wanted to share this at our meeting this year.”

Bill Stowe, Des Moines Water Works CEO and general manager, will deliver the keynote address, focusing on Iowa’s poor water quality.

According to a JFAN release, Stowe has become a leading public figure, speaking out on the connection between industrial agriculture and Iowa’s water pollution problem. Stowe is responsible for providing clean water to half a million people in metropolitan Des Moines. In 2015, Stowe ran the city’s de-nitrification facility for 177 days due to high nitrate levels in the water supply, which cost $1.5 million.

“[Stowe] gets the impacts of industrial agriculture on water quality. With [him] at the helm, the Des Moines Water Works has filed a lawsuit against drainage districts in three counties because of these high levels of nitrates. This has the potential to impact how the Clean Water Act may be applied in agriculture — it’s pretty big,” Rosenberg said, calling Stowe an “articulate” and “engaging speaker” who possesses natural charisma.

“He’ll give attendees a good feeling for how industrial agriculture and factory farming is impacting the state’s water quality, and also, why we need a factory farm moratorium until there are less than 100 water impairments to address this problem,” she said.

According to the release, Iowa has more than 9,000 factory farms confining nearly 20 million Iowa hogs. The state also has around 754 water impairments.

Stowe intends to focus on the correlation between industrial hog production and Iowa’s degraded waters.

Other speakers include John Ikerd, University of Missouri professor emeritus; Jess Mazour, a community organizer with Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement; and Joyce Otto, president of Poweshiek CARES.

Rosenberg said Mazour is slated to provide a short presentation about how people can advocate for a factory farm moratorium.

“We’ll have a handout with action steps that people will get when they leave,” Rosenberg said. “Plus there will be an opportunity to sign petitions in support of a moratorium.”

Rosenberg said Ikerd wrote a song called “Soul of Iowa,” which Fairfield artists Michaela and Steve McLain will perform at the start of the meeting.

Rosenberg said the song pays tribute to the interconnectedness of farming with the souls of people and the earth.

“People will want to arrive on time to hear it,” she said. “It’s beautiful.”

Meeting admission is free; however, $5 donations is will be accepted to support the organization’s mission.

For more information, go to www.jfaniowa.org or call Rosenberg at 209-6600.

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