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COL ICCI urges confinement crackdown

DES MOINES -- Members of a group that oppose large hog-confinement operations are urging the state to crack down on Iowa's largest hog producer for environmental violations.

More than 320 members of Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement signed a letter to Jeff Vonk, the director of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, demanding that two cases be referred to the state attorney general's office, ICCI said last week in a news release.

A copy of the letter was also sent to Gov. Tom Vilsack and the state Environmental Protection Commission, the release said.

The letter is in response to two incidents involving Stockdale Sow Facility in Hardin County owned by Iowa Select Farms, Iowa's largest hog producer.

The first violation was issued because Iowa Select built a manure lagoon too close to a neighbor's house and the second was issued because the company changed construction plans after the DNR approved them, the ICCI release said.

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Iowa counties designated as disaster areas

DES MOINES -- The Agriculture Department last week designated 18 Iowa counties as disaster areas because of drought conditions this year, and 19 adjoining counties will also qualify for disaster assistance.

High winds, cold spring temperatures, grasshopper infestation, and drought that has been ongoing since Sept. 1, 2001.

Those counties are: Adams, Audobon, Cass, Clay, Decatur, Dickinson, Fremont, Harrison, Lyon, Mills, Monona, Montgomery, O'Brien, Page, Palo Alto, Pottawattamie, Shelby and Taylor.

Also eligible for assistance because they are contiguous are Adair, Buena Vista, Carroll, Cherokee, Clarke, Crawford, Emmet, Guthrie, Humboldt, Ida, Kossuth, Lucas, Osceola, Plymouth, Pocahontas, Ringgold, Sioux, Union and Wayne Counties. Woodbury County has already been named as a contiguous county for this same disaster and is therefore not included in this designation.

The counties that have received primary disaster designations are also eligible for LCP.

Construction ban in flood plains discussed

DES MOINES -- A rule under consideration by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources would prohibit construction of huge hog lots on flood plains, a move to clear up conflicting language by the Legislature this year.

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The Iowa Environmental Protection Commission is expected to vote on preliminary approval for the rule next month. After a public comment period, the commission and a legislative committee would have to clear it.

The Legislature approved a bill last session that banned hog confinements of all sizes from flood plains, but only if the state had legally drawn a flood plain boundary. Much of the state has no such maps. The attorney general's office last week ruled that the department can ban the developments based on the new law. Previously, the department could allow confinements if they were elevated to protect against flooding.

Public hearing Nov. 4 for hog confinement

GARFIELD TOWNSHIP, Iowa -- Mahaska County officials set a Nov. 4 public hearing on plans for a hog confinement facility here.

Keith Van Waardhuizen, of Van Waardhuizen Inc., has applied to the state Department of Natural Resources for a permit to build the confinement.

It would house up to 4,800 hogs. The public hearing is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. in the Mahaska County Courthouse.

Low dairy prices topic of meeting

Iowa State University Extension and the Northeast Iowa Dairy Foundation will host meetings in November on low milk prices in November.

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Meetings will be 7:15 p.m. Nov. 5 at the Avalon Supper Club on Highway 52 in Rickardsville, 10:15 p.m. Nov. 6 at the People's State Bank in Elkader and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. the same day at Decorah Lutheran Church in Decorah. There is no cost to attend the programs.

Robert Cropp, milk marketing specialist from University of Wisconsin Extension, will lead a discussion. Cropp will also address the market loss payments, current opportunities and cautions of contracting milk, and manufactured protein concentrate imports. For more information, telephone Larry Tranel at (563) 583-6496.

Year-round farmers market to open

DES MOINES -- The Metro Market in downtown Des Moines recently broke ground on the state's first indoor farmers market.

Metro Market President David Schlarmann said the market is accepting applications for producers who would like to be part of The Metro Market. Producers who are interested can telephone (515) 244-5100. The first public meeting for producer information will be at 7 p.m. Nov. 13 at the Des Moines Botanical Center.

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