JFAN President Jim Rubis Retiring; David E. Sykes
Appointed New JFAN President
Founding Jefferson County Farmers & Neighbors, Inc.
(JFAN) board member and president Jim Rubis announced his retirement from the
JFAN Board of Directors effective October 1. Rubis is stepping down after nine
years of dedicated service to the Jefferson County community in which he was
instrumental in establishing JFAN as an effective resource for protecting
Jefferson County’s quality of life from the proliferation of factory farms.
Read the press release here
JFAN Issues Press Release on Maschhoff Manure Spill
JFAN sent a press release to over 500 media contacts throughout Iowa on February 13. The mailing forwarded the press release written by the Humane Society of the United States with additional comments highlighting the involvement of JFAN's legal counsel David E. Sykes. Mr. Sykes is also Iowa legal counsel for the Humane Society as well as a principle in the Charlie Speer/Richard Middleton/David E. Sykes Iowa legal team.
Read the press release here
JFAN Publishes Ads in Fairfield Ledger and Fairfield Weekly Reader
JFAN published a half page ad in the January issues of the Fairfield Ledger
and the Fairfield Weekly Reader
reviewing major accomplishments in 2013 and outlining our goals for 2014. View the ads here
First Lawsuit of Speer/Middleton/Sykes Legal Team Filed
The Save Batavia Eldon lawsuit is moving forward. On November 19, attorney David E. Sykes filed a petition in the Wapello County District Court on behalf of 70 plaintiffs of Save Batavia Eldon. The group is suing Valley View Swine and two other CAFO operators for creating and maintaining a temporary nuisance that has impacted the plaintiffs.
The 26-page complaint names Nick, Shawn and Jeff Adam of Valley View Swine, as well as Larry Hickenbottom of Tri-L Farms, Josh Hickenbottom, and Richard Warren, all CAFO owners in the Batavia and Eldon area. In addition, the supplier/integrator for all the CAFOs, Cargill Pork, is named in the lawsuit.
There are approximately 20,000 plus hogs contained in the CAFOs, with 10,000 of them located at the two Valley View Swine locations.
This is the first lawsuit to be filed by the new Iowa legal team of Charlie Speer, Richard Middleton, and David Sykes. Thirteen other groups in seven Iowa counties representing approximately 500 to 600 plaintiffs are currently under consideration by the team. Sykes is also JFAN’s legal counsel.
JFAN provided extensive informational and organizational support to Save Batavia Eldon when Valley View Swine was proposed.
Coalition Sues Van Buren CAFO; HSUS Names David Sykes Iowa Counsel
A 7500-head sow operation run by Maschhoff Pork in Van Buren County that recently spilled thousands of gallons of manure into a Des Moines River tributary received a notice of intent to sue on November 21 by a coalition of community, environmental, and animal welfare organizations.
Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (CCI) represented by the Environmental Integrity Project and the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), represented by attorney David E. Sykes, intend to file a lawsuit in the Iowa Federal District Court alleging violations of the federal Clean Water Act.
Sykes has recently been retained by HSUS as their legal counsel in Iowa to help file lawsuits against factory farms who have violated the federal Clean Water Act.
The Maschhoff CAFO experienced several spills in the past six years, yet the Iowa Department of Natural Resources did not require the confinement to obtain a Clean Water Act permit when the DNR inspected the facility in August.Read more about the lawsuit here.
JFAN Distributes 900+ Books on Livestock Production to Policymakers, Others Throughout State
Over 900 educational books on Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) were donated this month to state and local officials, universities, and.....Read More >>
Great News! – KK Finishers Denied
The Iowa Department of Natural Resources denied the second attempt of CAFO owner Ryan Robertson to expand KK Finishers, a 2480-head hog confinement. The proposed 1200-head expansion north of the city of Pleasant Plain would have swelled the confinement to 3680 hogs.
This denial was a big win for Jefferson County. JFAN worked very closely with the Jefferson County Board of Supervisors to review the Master Matrix, and all the supervisors, including former supervisor Steve Burgmeier while still in office, did an outstanding job handling the review.
Please see the upcoming JFAN Newsletter for details on the twists and turns of this application process.
Although CAFOs Approved, Batavia and Eldon Residents Not Backing Down
The DNR approved both Valley View Swine sites in mid April even though residents mounted a fight to oppose the CAFOs. Nearly 10,000 hogs will be located in two sites in Wapello County, just across the Jefferson County border.
JFAN has been working very closely with the group, attending meetings, evaluating the application and manure management plans, and discussing many facets of the application with the DNR. No Master Matrix was involved as Wapello County traditionally does not adopt this additional regulatory tool.
Site 1 is located within 1.5 miles of downtown Batavia, and Site 2 is approximately three miles of the city of Eldon and the American Gothic House. The Des Moines River Primitive Baptist Church, which has been meeting at the site of the current church since 1841, is only a third of a mile away from Site 2.
Even though both CAFOs are going up, Batavia and Eldon residents are not giving up. Nearly 70 plaintiffs have retained local lawyer and JFAN’s legal counsel David E. Sykes to pursue legal action. Mr. Sykes has teamed up with Kansas City attorney Charlie Speer, who with his legal team of Peter Bieri of Kansas City and Richard Middleton of Savannah, Georgia, are reputed to be the nation’s top CAFO-fighting lawyers, achieving numerous multi-million dollar awards on behalf of their clients. This legal team is taking the case on a contingency fee basis, which means the group will only have to pay for out of pocket expenses, dramatically reducing their costs.
JFAN has also given a $5,000 financial assistance grant to the group to help with those additional costs.
The upcoming JFAN Newsletter will have an expanded article on this CAFO situation. See the Letter to the Editor below that appeared in the May 16 Fairfield Ledger on this latest development. Learn more about how this new legal team offers hope and opportunities for Iowans in an article in the upcoming June issue of the Iowa Source.
Pork Shop – New Ryan Robertson CAFO
On April 1, Ryan Robertson proposed another CAFO in Lockridge Township near the intersection of Germanville Road and 171st Street. The 2480-head hog confinement falls just 20 hogs short of the 2500 threshold requiring a Master Matrix.
JFAN notified over 30 area neighbors. The confinement is just 1300 feet away from a church used by the local Amish community.
One neighbor approached JFAN and discussed the possibility of opposing the CAFO. Together, JFAN and the neighbor evaluated the manure management plan to determine any weaknesses and to identify owners of the land on which manure will be applied. The neighbor was planning to petition the landowners to not accept the manure, sometimes an effective way to discourage a CAFO. We discovered that all the land parcels were connected with Robertson’s family, and in the end, the neighbor decided not to pursue any further action.
The CAFO has since been approved. *
Hill Top Haven – Dale Robertson CAFO Undergoing Revisions
Dale Robertson is revising his confinement operation, Hill Top Haven, and has applied for a permit to build a new 1500-head swine finishing building. Robertson currently has a 3550 finishing operation and a 2400-head nursery operation at the Penn Township facility.
The new configuration involves the removal of three older confinement buildings and the conversion of a nursery operation into a finishing confinement. In the end, the confinement will house 4105 head of swine finishers and no nursery hogs, bringing his overall head count lower than at present.
JFAN alerted neighbors within a two-mile area, including the residents of the city of Pleasant Plain. No one contacted JFAN to oppose the confinement change. *
* Note - JFAN does not work to oppose a proposed CAFO unless there are neighbors who object.
JFAN's Letter to the Editor published in the May 16, 2013 Fairfield Ledger
To the Editor:
Batavia and Eldon area residents have repeatedly asked the Adam family to not build Valley View Swine because of harmful impacts the 10,000-head CAFOs can have on their health, property values, and quality of life. Yet the CAFOs are moving ahead. Another news publication quoted Shawn saying he feels his family went “above and beyond their duties” by participating in a meeting and answering questions.
After being witness to and a participant in many of the meetings discussing the CAFOs, it’s Jefferson County Farmers & Neighbors, Inc. (JFAN)’s opinion that the Adam family didn’t go far enough to address the communities’ needs and concerns.
Apparently, that’s also the opinion of over 70 neighbors seeking legal counsel to help protect themselves. They are currently working with local attorney and JFAN’s legal counsel David Sykes who has teamed up with attorney Charlie Speer from Kansas City.
The Save Batavia and Eldon group has hope. Mr. Speer has a national reputation as the leading anti-factory farming attorney in the country. He has successfully protected many communities like Batavia and Eldon and currently has cases in seven other states.
Of course, it would be ideal to stop CAFOs before they are built. But the nature of Iowa law makes it more conducive to start litigation once a CAFO is up and running and the damage they cause is more evident.
Mr. Speer has a reputation of securing very high monetary awards. Mr. Sykes, too, has a successful history fighting CAFOs, working with JFAN and also as an independent legal counsel.
Save Batavia and Eldon will not back down. And they shouldn’t. To save a lot of unnecessary hassles for all involved, JFAN feels the Adam family would be wise to stop their CAFOs now and raise their hogs using traditional farming methods that don’t create harm.
President, Jefferson County Farmers & Neighbors, Inc.
Pleasant Plain Lawsuit Settles
After a long and protracted legal battle, we are pleased to report that the Pleasant Plain lawsuit settled on March 5, 2010. The case was scheduled to go to trial on March 26th.
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