Hog Confinements Major Issue at Grinnell 2014 Democratic Caucus

Democratic Caucus on January 21, 2014 in Grinnell, Iowa (photo by Helen Hotchkin)

Democratic Caucus on January 21, 2014 in Grinnell, Iowa (photo by Helen Hotchkin)

By Helen Hotchkin

As attendees gathered at the 2014 Iowa Democratic Caucus in Grinnell last night the major platform issue repeated over and over throughout the night was the problem of confined animal feeding operations (CAFO) sprouting up throughout the mid-west with their pervading odors that are significantly devaluing the property values of neighboring homes.

Eldon Snook, nominee for County Supervisor, spoke clearly about his intent to find a solution to the CAFO problems in the county. “It’s not that I don’t like hog confinements, “he said adamantly, “I think they are fine. I just think the person who owns them should be the one living next to them. Other people should not have to endure that smell while the owner lives two miles down the road.”

Planks for the Poweshiek County Democrats introduced by Platform Chairman, Donna Winburn, include support for the elimination of property tax exemption on manure storage facilities; support for a property tax exemption for air quality enhancements for CAFO such as filters, additives, landscapes, etc; support for a moratorium on all CAFO’s over 500 animal units which equals 1250 head for hogs; requiring a permit to build any CAFO over 500 units; support for requiring all counties to use the Master Matrix when approving a permit for new or additional construction; and changing the Master Matrix to not allow any animal feeding operation (AFO) that sells the manure to take any points for the handling of the manure after it leaves the facility premises; support a requirement that all AFO applications be accompanied by a proof of notification of intent-to-build sent to all residents and landowners within one mile radius of the proposed site.

Legislative priorities approved by the Iowa Farmers Union include the 1) Incorporation of improved accountability, prioritization of funding, numeric goals, and timelines into the strategy to reduce nitrogen and phosphorus pollution in our waterways. 2) Eliminate property tax exemption for CAFO manure storage facilities, tax animal confinement building at the industrial rate, except where there is local ownership of the property, buildings and animals by the same entity. 3) Promote and expand local and regional food systems in Iowa with various programs, financial assistance, and tax and financial incentives for new state-inspected meat processing plants, including mobile slaughtering units. 4) Reduce incidents of negligent spray application of agricultural chemicals and improve legal and financial protections where spray drift results in damages of neighboring organic operations, as well as endanger the health of human and animals within this environment.

“My wife, Ellie Snook,” Eldon went on to say, “was the county supervisor before, but she died before she could finish all she wanted to do; I want to help her do that.”

Other petitioners on the table awaiting signatures besides Eldon Snook were: Monica Vernon, House of Rep- 1st district; Bruce Braley, Senate; Jonathan Neiderbach, State Auditor; Sherrie Taha, Secretary of Agriculture- 1st district; Anesa Kajazovic, US House-1st district; Dave O’Brien, House of Rep; Swati Dandekar, US Rep- 1st district; John G “Jack” Hatch, Governor; Rebecca Petig, Co. Attorney; Jonathan R. Narcisse, Governor; Jason Roudabush, Co. Supervisor; Dinanna Longhenry, Co. Recorder; Eric Pederson, House- 76 district; Michael Fitzgerald, State Treasurer; Brad Anderson, Secretary of State.

All the petitions, registration sheets, nominations, and platforms were to be turned into the State party at the end of the evening. Then, beginning January 25, the first Committee on the Committee and Platform committee meetings will take place at the Drake Library at 10:30 am to begin the district voting process on the various planks. The first meeting of the County Central Committee will be February 18 at Pagliai’s Pizza at 7 pm.( Optional dining begins at 6.) Those that are voted in will be taken to the County Convention at the Malcolm City Auditorium on March 8 at 9 am. Registration for that begins at 8:15.

Many volunteer positions are still available. If you are interested in becoming involved with the democratic electoral process, please contact Chairman Rachel Bly at 641-269-3178.

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