To the Editor:
The recent, rapid erection of a 2,480-head hog confinement on 210th Street northeast of Dallas Center adds a new twist to the confinement debate, and underlines the need for significant changes in Iowa’s laws regarding local control. Rather than erect few, large facilities, the factory farmers are partnering with Quality Ag Inc., to build smaller confinements holding 2,480 hogs to 2,496 hogs—slightly below the 2,500 hog threshold that would mandate stricter regulatory oversight. This loophole allows operators to skirt the laws that require public input and board of supervisor consideration for construction. Moreover, the buildings can be on smaller tracts leading to concern that land owners may scatter confinements across Dallas County.
Confinements have proliferated across the state thanks to the cozy relationship between factory farmers and state government. In this case, the owner of Quality Ag, Inc., Brent Rastetter, donated $31,000 to Branstad’s re-election campaign and was installed by the Governor on the Iowa Environmental Protection Commission. Citizens concerned about smaller yet potent confinements multiplying between Waukee, Dallas Center and Granger are faced with the fact that people who have financial stakes in the success of the factory farm industry are in position to make decisions regarding factory farm laws and their implementation. This conflict of interest means Dallas County residents are increasingly at risk of diminished property values and quality of life. The Iowa Legislature should pass a local control bill so everyday people can have input about factory farms being built in their community.