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Hogs in a North Iowa confinement. 

FOREST CITY | The Winnebago County Supervisors say they don't support a bill calling for committee to make recommendations to the state legislature on tightening regulations for confined animal feeding operations. 

Supervisor Terry Durby said there are "too many unknowns" in the bill.

"I'm not totally sold on signing onto this (a resolution of support)" without some reassurances, he said. 

The bill calls for a 19-member advisory committee  to revisit the master matrix scoring system for construction permits for CAFOs. 

The advisory committee would include representatives from agriculture and livestock producer organizations, as well as organizations concerned about health and natural resources. 

The bill does not call for a moratorium on CAFOs or local control of where they can be located.

"My opinion is that the current matrix is doing its job," said Eric Christianson of Lake Mills, who attended the Feb. 6 board of supervisors meeting where the issue was discussed.

Christianson and his son operate a contract hog finishing site north of their home.

He said his biggest concern is who would be on the proposed advisory committee for the master matrix. 

Some people "flat don't want pigs, period. They don't want agriculture, period," he said. 

If four or five people from this contingent are appointed to the advisory committee, "it's not going to be science-based," Christianson said. "It's going to be emotion-based."

Christianson said it's sometimes difficult to find potential CAFO sites that meet the current rule of having to be at least 1,875 feet from the nearest residence, public use area or waterway.

Christianson said it probably would be OK if that requirement was increased to 2,000 feet, but if it were to be raised to two miles, it would severely limit where CAFOs could be built.

Supervisor Bill Jensvold said he has concerns about odor, not only from manure application but also from day-to-day operation of the CAFOs.

He noted the supervisors recently rejected a construction permit application from 1 pigE, LLC, for a proposed hog confinement operation south of Buffalo Center.

1 pigE wanted to build two 2,499-head deep pit swine finisher confinement buildings at the site, less than two miles north of the Gruis Recreation Area.

Jensvold said if the CAFO were built at that site, a north breeze could carry the odor to the recreation area and ruin the day for people having a family reunion or playing golf there.

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources could have overruled the supervisors and allowed the CAFO to be built at the proposed site, but 1 pigE withdrew its permit, according to Jensvold. 

However, the sites they are now considering are closer to the town of Buffalo Center, he said.

Supervisor Mike Stensrud said cities have the authority to control land use within a two-mile radius. 

Putting too many restrictions on CAFOs isn't a good idea because of their positive impact on the farm economy, according to Stensrud.

"Iowa is an agricultural state," he said, 

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