Iowans Demand Legislative Action on Factory Farm Moratorium

Residents rally around new bill to protect Iowa’s water, rural communities and independent family farmers

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Food System

DES MOINES, IA — This week, Representative Art Staed (D-Cedar Rapids) and Senator Pam Jochum (D-Dubuque) introduced a new house bill (HF 440) and companion senate bill (SF 282) that, if passed, would stop all new factory farms in the state. The legislation is the fourth annual attempt by state Democrats to push for a moratorium, and comes in response to mounting public support and urgent environmental hazards stemming from factory farms.

In events held alongside citizen advocates this afternoon, legislators called on their colleagues to listen to constituent demands and rise to the occasion. In a state home to over 10,000 factory farms, the industry and its unchecked expansion are wreaking havoc on drinking water, Iowa’s rural communities and independent family farms. The new legislation offers Iowans a path to a cleaner future that protects the state’s environment, communities and jobs.

Representative Art Staed said, “From the corporate control of our food system and the industry’s contribution to climate change to declining property values and the pollution of our rivers, lakes and streams — the harmful impacts of corporate agriculture are extensive. Whether you live next to a factory farm or downstream from one, this industry’s practices impact everyone in Iowa. I have heard the concerns of my constituents, and I agree. It’s time to place a moratorium on new and expanding factory farms.”

With young and independent rural Americans overwhelmingly in support of a factory farm moratorium, roadblocks to legislative passage lie with legislators not bold enough to stand up to agribusiness.

“We’ve seen support for a moratorium consistently growing everywhere but the state legislature,” said Emma Schmit, a Food & Water Watch Iowa organizer. “From Congress to communities across Iowa, more people than ever are stepping up to address our broken food and farm system. It’s time our state legislators do the same. Farmers, consumers and our environment deserve better.”

Over 100 Iowans from across the state gathered virtually to support the new moratorium legislation. Concerned citizens gave first hand testimony on the dangerous activities of factory farms whose abusive contracts and destructive environmental practices are endangering our water, rural communities and independent family farmers.

“A moratorium on factory farms is the first step to creating a more just food and farm system. Factory farms and corporate agriculture exploit our rural communities, our natural resources and the people we care about,” said Barb Kalbach, a fourth-generation farmer and CCI Action member. “We need to put people over corporate profit and build a system that works for family farmers, workers, consumers and our environment.”

Jess Mazour from Sierra Club said, “Every two years, DNR releases a report about Iowa’s water quality and every two years the report tells us the same thing — Iowa’s lakes, rivers and streams are polluted and factory farm manure is a leading cause. If we care about water quality in the state, we have to stop the pollution at the source, and factory farms are clearly a major source.”

“Factory farms pose huge threats to family farmers,” said Aaron Lehman, Iowa Farmers Union President. “Many of these operations are tied to meatpackers who distort the marketplace for independent producers trying to make an honest living. In addition, neighboring farmers see their property rights handed over to factory farms that have few ties to the community.”

As our family farmers are struggling, so are our rural communities. Over the past 30 years, the Iowa counties that sold the most hogs and had the largest farms also had declining countywide incomes, slower growth in median household income and declining numbers of local businesses compared to the statewide average.

Val Vetter of Poweshiek CARES shared the impact the factory farm industry has had on her community. “Last summer, before our community could even provide input, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources approved an application for the construction of yet another factory farm in Poweshiek County. We have little to no protections against an industry that actively harms the quality of life in our county. We need a statewide moratorium now if we want to preserve Iowa’s rural communities.”

Edith Haenel, founder of Iowa Citizens for Responsible Agriculture – Worth County said, “In rural Iowa we experience the harmful impacts of factory farms firsthand. Our experiences have shown that the expansion of the factory farm industry tears the social fabric of communities apart. From the consolidation of our agriculture markets to the destruction of our environment, corporate agriculture has devastated our way of life. We need to come together to strengthen rural America and unite against the problems that this industry has created for our climate, communities and quality of life.”

You can find a recording of today’s rally here: https://fb.watch/3yFcO3hDTc/

Contact: Phoebe Galt – [email protected]