A Statement from Jefferson County Farmers & Neighbors, Inc. Board of Directors on the Current CAFO Threat

Pork production in Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) or factory farms is expanding throughout Iowa, fueled by China’s demand for cheap pork. Additional market factors make Southeast Iowa a prime area to build new CAFOs. As a result, Jefferson County is facing its most serious threat yet from the expansion of CAFOs. In 2014 alone, nine new factory farms were proposed.

JFAN is extremely concerned with these growing developments. Decades of scientific research demonstrates CAFOs can have devastating impacts on Iowan’s health, quality of life, economic vitality, and environment. They are not in the best interests of the majority of Jefferson County residents. JFAN is here to ensure that every member of our county understands the adverse effects of factory farms and to ensure that no one is forced to tolerate a CAFO against his or her will. We advocate that CAFOs should not infringe on our fundamental American right to the use and enjoyment of homes and land nor to our quality of life.

In response to these infringing CAFOs, JFAN is refortifying its efforts to ensure CAFO owners and corporate integrators know they are not welcome in Jefferson County, nor will the problems that CAFOs typically bring with them be tolerated.

JFAN takes particular exception to CAFO owners and integrators (corporate suppliers) who disrespect rural communities and traditional family farmers by building CAFOs without seeking the approval of neighbors within a 2-mile radius and by not following the Iowa Pork Producer’s Association’s Best Management Practices and JFAN Good Neighbor Guidelines.

JFAN President Jim Rubis retired from the JFAN Board of Directors in October after nine years of dedicated service. David E. Sykes, an environmental Iowa attorney and JFAN’s former pro bono legal counsel succeeded Mr. Rubis as president. The appointment of Mr. Sykes as JFAN’s president, an attorney engaged in lawsuits to protect Iowa clients from infringing CAFOs, should be taken as a signal that JFAN is stepping up its efforts to curtail CAFO development in our county.

Our community education programs and community organizing efforts will be in support of the following JFAN positions:

1. Large scale confinement animal feeding operations are not farms. Period. They are industrial operations that produce untreated animal waste products containing over 300 volatile organic compounds, noxious gases, and airborne particulates and should be regulated as such.

2. Unlike human sewage for which waste treatment is highly regulated, farm animal sewage is applied untreated to cropland. When applied in quantities typical of CAFOs, this poses an unacceptable and scientifically proven public health threat. Sewage from CAFOs must be treated and more rigorously regulated in order to protect public health and the environment.

3. Raising livestock in close confinement is inherently inhumane. Studies show it can also produce less nutritious, and at times harmful, food products as compared to pasture-raised farming operations. JFAN supports sustainably raised, pasture-based animal husbandry methods by independent family farmers. There are economically viable alternatives to factory farms.

4. In response to a growing public concern about how food is produced, the corporate livestock industry is waging an aggressive and in JFAN’s opinion a misleading public relations campaign to equate factory farming with traditional independent family farming. The truth is that corporate agribusinesses have put a large percentage of independent family farmers out of business and co-opted the image of independent, pastoral farming to deceive the public. JFAN will generate a strong response relying on the truth and documented facts to appeal to the hearts and minds of the public while addressing the industry’s misinformation campaign.

5. In general, Iowa laws and legal loopholes favor factory farming interests over the rights, needs, and interests of communities. These laws must be changed in order to better protect people and the environment from the harmful impacts of CAFOs and to give counties a say in the siting of confinements. JFAN will increase its lobbying efforts to the allowable limit for a 501(c)(3) educational organization to promote better legislation.

6. To help community groups stand up to unwanted CAFOs, when requested JFAN will continue to provide informational support and guidance to help neighbors pursue all options to stop a confinement. JFAN will continue to develop relationships with other state and national organizations in support of these efforts. We will also share our extensive knowledge base with other county groups so they may become more effective in protecting themselves against CAFO threats.

 7. Until the laws change and CAFOs become a relic of the past, JFAN will continue to recommend nuisance and quality of life lawsuits as an option for community groups who are unsuccessful in their efforts to stop a confinement in their neighborhood. CAFO owners should understand that if they build CAFOs against neighbors’ wishes, there is a good chance they will find themselves in a costly lawsuit.

Approved for publication by the JFAN Board of Directors as of December 1, 2014.