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Iowa House Democrats introduce bill to stop expansion of ‘factory farms’

(The Center Square) – Twenty Iowa House Democrats, led by state Rep. Art Staed, D-Cedar Rapids, introduced a fifth-round bill on Wednesday to stop the expansion of operating structures supply in containment.

This time, The law project includes provisions protecting contract growers from liability for pollution, holding business integrators jointly liable for water pollution on “factory farms”, and expanding the regulatory authority of the Department of Natural Resources to Iowa, bill advocate Food and Water Watch said in a news release.

Food and Water Watch held a press conference on Monday on the bill, which would increase the responsibilities of integrators of containment feeding operations, who are meat or poultry processors than animal-owning contract producers. maintain during containment supply operations.

“More than 3,000 farmers in Iowa raise livestock under production contracts, and they shouldn’t have to bear the full burden of mistakes caused by policies given to them by big agribusiness,” he said. said Staed.

Staed is a ranking member of the Iowa House Economic Growth Committee and a member of the Environmental Protection Committee, of which he was a ranking member in 2021.

Under the bill, if contract growers and containment operation integrators are co-owners of containment operations, both parties must jointly submit manure management plans and containment operation applications. breeding in confinement. Production contracts for confined feeding operations would be part of manure management plans, which would indicate who owns the animals kept on the farm.

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources would gain more power to regulate water pollution during containment supply operations by allowing the department to enact stricter rules than those in the Water Control Act. water pollution. New structures that are part of a small animal feeding operation (up to 500 animal units) and projects already under construction would be exempt from the moratorium, which would expire in July 2027.

John Aspray, lead organizer for the Iowa Alliance for Responsible Agriculture and Food & Water Watch, told the conference that manure from factory farms is overspread, submerging soil and crops and flowing into waterways in Iowa.

“Major food companies like Tyson and Iowa Select have built this system over the years to get the most out of every part of the meat production process,” Aspray said.

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He said raising livestock itself is the hardest part of the business for integrators and they contract with ranchers, who must follow integrator specifications, which may include rules of containment and feeding of animals. Producers fund construction, waste and its pollution, and companies pay based on the pounds of cattle delivered, he said.

“For too long, the brunt of this pollution burden has fallen on the contract farmers trapped in our industrialized farming system while the profits have gone to big business, these meat integrators,” Aspray said. “The CAFO Moratorium Bill of 2022 will end the expansion of factory farms and this gross inequity, by ensuring that businesses from JBS to Tyson, whose profit hoarding is creating this pollution, can be held accountable. responsible for cleaning it.”

Tyson Foods Enterprise Communications Senior Manager of Fresh Meats Liz Croston told The Center Square in an emailed statement on Monday that the company did not tend to comment on pending legislation.

“Also, we don’t raise pigs in Iowa,” Croston said.

Iowa Cattlemen’s Association communications director Anna Hastert told The Center Square in an emailed statement Tuesday that the association declined to comment.

Iowa Department of Natural Resources Office of Communications, Outreach and Marketing Chief Tammie Krausman told The Center Square in an emailed statement Wednesday that the department is not commenting on the proposed legislation. .