DES MOINES, Iowa — The Iowa Alliance for Responsible Agriculture has issued a call for a moratorium on the building of new large animal feeding operations in the state.
Senator David Johnson (Ind.) of Ocheydan has introduced several measures in the Senate, including a moratorium on putting up large new animal operations, until there are far fewer water impairment issues in Iowa. Johnson has been traveling the state investigating problems with animal operations being too close to water supplies and too close to residences of neighbors.
“As a result of my travels, I am joining other lawmakers in introducing a series of bills designed to close many loopholes in current confinement laws,” said Johnson. “We are not just pointing out problems, we are offering solutions.”
Johnson helped draft the original master matrix now used to help determine what is a good location for an animal operation and what is not. The document was drafted in 2002, and some feel it is now outdated.
“Some address specific issues like separation distances, others are broader in scope, such as the call for a moratorium on new construction until the legislature gets serious about the failings of the master matrix and reducing the number of impaired waters in the state,” said Johnson.
A rally and news conference was held in the rotunda area of the Capitol on Tuesday morning.
“The State DNR Director has said that the pork industry should police itself,” said Johnson. “Obviously that isn’t happening, and it’s my belief that will never happen at a time when the DNR livestock division has been literally cut to the bone.”
“Enough is enough,” said Des Moines Waterworks CEO Bill Stowe. “With continued support of status quo of industrial agriculture, that directly challenges your and my safe drinking water.”
Asked if the moratorium will get any traction in the Senate, Johnson said, “it will take some heavy lifting to make that happen.”
He added the proposed moratorium will most likely be an issue in the upcoming Iowa gubernatorial race.