Hogs 1

Hogs in a North Iowa confinement. 

CHARLES CITY | The Floyd County supervisors took action this week requiring both applicants for concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) and the property owners to appear at public hearings. 

The action come on the heels of a resolution they passed two weeks ago asking the governor and Legislature to make changes to improve the state's master matrix system.

Tuesday's resolution requires both applicants for CAFOs and owners to appear at county hearings after being notified by certified letter of the date and time of the hearings.

If either or both fail to appear, a second letter would be sent with a new hearing date and time. If either or both failed to appear at the second hearing, the permit would be denied.

The board is also considering a resolution regarding protection of wellheads and groundwater monitoring wells on the sites of proposed CAFOs but no formal action has been taken on that.

In its Feb. 14 resolution asking for the state to improve the master matrix, supervisors said CAFOs have been built at a much higher rate than the state anticipated when it created the matrix in 2002.

Supervisor Mark Kuhn said 22.4 million hogs produced in Iowa in 2016 is projected to be 30 million by 2020. He said the hogs produce roughly 10 times more fecal waste than humans and that hog waste in Iowa contributes to two-thirds of the fecal waste in the United States.

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Kuhn said if the waste is applied properly to farm fields, it is good for the economy and good for farmers using it as a nutrient. But if it is applied improperly, said Kuhn, it can leach into groundwater supplies.

After a public hearing, when the resolution was proposed by Kuhn, it died for lack of a second. After some discussion and the resolution came up for a vote again, Kuhn favored the concept but objected to some of what was included in the second version. It was approved by a 2-1 vote.

The resolution points out the matrix "has failed to adequately differentiate between the geography, water sources and other critical considerations throughout the different regions in the state."

It further states the matrix fails "to properly take into consideration information within the knowledge of local sources, highlighting the failings of the master matrix to protect the air, water, health, quality of life and economic interests of the citizens."

Floyd officials join Allamakee and Winneshiek county in formally calling for changes in the state matrix. Webster and Pocahontas county leaders last year wrote letters to legislators and the DNR, calling for a moratorium on factory farms and changes to the matrix. Johnson County officials have asked for more local control. 

The Mitchell County Board of Supervisors in February approved establishing a formal committee to review master matrix applications. The board, which said it would begin participating in scoring hog confinement applications, had previously approved applications as presented. 

Earlier this week, the Franklin County Board of Supervisors approved an application for a permit for an addition to an existing CAFO because the application met all the requirements of the state matrix.  

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