Fairfield Ledger

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Neighbors Growing Together | May 21, 2018

Supervisors discuss CAFOs during Monday meeting

By Nicole Major, Ledger staff writer | Jun 27, 2017

Executive director of Jefferson County Farmers and Neighbors, Diane Rosenberg, along with several other community members, addressed the Jefferson County Board of Supervisors during public comments at Monday’s board meeting.

Rosenberg asked the supervisors if they would consider calling for a moratorium on Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations.

Rosenberg said the moratorium resolution would only be until there were less than 100 water impairments in the state or until the Master Matrix, the mechanism the county uses to score CAFOs, was “adequately addressed to take on environmental concerns.”

“It’s really not as strong as it needs to be,” Rosenberg said today of the Master Matrix.

Rosenberg said that she had a petition with nearly 1,200 signatures of those calling for the resolution.

“This doesn’t mean that we are calling for a ban, we’re just calling for a temporary pause. Nine other counties have already done this, and most of them are rural counties that have quite a number of CAFOs,” she said. “It’s not that we don’t recognize and respect that Iowa is an agricultural state, we just want the opportunity to have a resolution in support of a future moratorium. A lot of people that I deal with in the course of my work who are affected by CAFOs don’t want to be seen as a bad neighbor, so they don’t speak out.”

Supervisors Dick Reed and Lee Dimmitt refused to add the discussion as a future agenda item. Supervisor Dee Sandquist could not be reached in time for comment.

“This gets kind of technical because it’s under public comment, and wasn’t on the agenda for us to make a decision,” Reed said during an interview today.

Although Reed said he understood JFAN’s position, he also realizes that its stance doesn’t represent the entire county.

“I’m not going to pull the rug out from under a young person to make a decision — I don’t choose to make that decision,” Reed said, explaining that Jefferson County is an agricultural community. “I’m not advocating that everybody and their brother go out and build a CAFO, but if that’s what a farmer chooses to do, as long as he is within the rules and regulations right now, I can’t say anything about that.”

Reed said that the supervisors didn’t have the power to do anything about CAFOs, and that those opposed to them should take it to the “State House.”

“That’s their right to do that,” he said.

Dimmitt said that creating a resolution would have “zero impact,” and would likely further exacerbate divisions that already exists in the community.

“This is a futile exercise that would only serve to create a wider division; why would you want to do that?” Dimmitt said adding that the issue had been brought up multiple times during past Legislative sessions by the late Rep. Curt Hanson, which was even more effective than a resolution would be, and not a single administration took the issue up.

“This has sub-zero purpose for our community. The Legislature is not going to deal with it,” he said. “If you could say to me unequivocally that the Legislature will take this position up then we have something. It’s a matter of economics, and the state is not going to mess with it.”

In addition to driving a wedge, Dimmitt said the resolution would “lump” all CAFOs together.

“We have producers who follow the rules,” Dimmitt said. “It’s making noise for the sake of making noise and accomplishing nothing. It’s painting with a broad brush. Are their farms that are owned by corporations? Sure, but there are a lot of generational family farms here.”

Dimmitt said with the recent job losses in the county, calling for a CAFO moratorium would not make practical sense. “It would be creating a greater amount of animosity than already exists, and it has no practical purpose,” he said.

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