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Stop CAFOs

Published: Tuesday, March 4, 2014 10:59 a.m. CDT

From Karon Finn


In 1995 Gov. Terry Branstad and the Iowa Legislature took away local control from our local officials when it came to the approval and sitting of the large confinement buildings. There was such an uproar from the people of Iowa that the legislature passed and the governor signed a bill that gave us the Master Matrix. The Master Matrix is like a Band-Aid over a gaping wound.

The supervisors can say we did our best. The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) can say we have our rules. The legislators and governor can say talk to your supervisors or your board of health. They are ALL at fault especially our legislators and governor. The supervisors should fight for legislation to give them back their local control; the DNR environmental head should protect our water supply or resign in protest. Our legislators and governor should pass local control legislation to protect the people they work for — the citizens of Iowa.

Iowa is divided into three groups. The first group is extremely small. It’s those people with vested interests, who profit from the concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs). The second group is a little larger. They’re the locals who are against CAFOs because they’ve had personal experience with them. The third group is the huge majority. They know little about the pitfalls of CAFOs, but they’re just a whiff away from being against them. It’s just a matter of awareness.

So beware in your neighborhood. Remember the ones who thought it would never happen to them.

David E. Sykes, Fairfield, provides litigation services for individuals and communities fighting factory farms in Iowa. Increasingly, citizens are turning to the court system because federal, state and local governments are not doing enough to regulate pollution from these large-scale operations. Charlie Speer, Peter B. Bieri from the Speer Law Firm in Kansas City, Mo., and Richard H. Middleton Jr. from the Middleton Law Firm in Savannah, Ga., have have joined him. One of the key factors that will help level the field for opponents of CAFOs is that this legal team will typically represent clients on a contingency fee basis where they are only compensated if they win money damages. The CAFOs may be built next to you because of Iowa’s lax laws, but you will be able to sue for nuisance damages when your property value goes down or when your children become sick.

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