Groups join lawsuit over Iowa hog production
Critics fear local control would produce differing rules
DES MOINES -- Environmental and farm groups announced plans last week to join a legal battle over a local ordinance setting new restrictions on giant hog feeding operations.
"Local governments need to have the right to protect their constituents," said Kendra Kimbirauskas, a staffer with the Iowa Chapter of the Sierra Club.
Her group along with the Iowa Farmers Union and other community groups held a Statehouse news conference to announce plans to file a friend of the court brief supporting a Worth County ordinance that is at the heart of the latest controversy over hog production.
The legal brief was filed with the state Supreme Court July 14, and lawyers for the Sierra Club said it's aimed at assuring basic rights.
"The Worth County ordinance shows that a local government will take matters into its own hands to protect citizens from factory farm pollution," said Barclay Rogers, a lawyer for the environmental group.
The county ordinance restricts emissions coming from confinement feeding operations, but was successfully challenged in a lower court by farm groups who claim that state law governs management of the livestock operations and that counties can't intervene.
The issue will eventually be settled by the Iowa Supreme Court, which hasn't set a date to hear the case.
Critics of large livestock operations said that without local controls, officials are helpless to protect citizens against the stench and health risks of giant production facilities.
"We fear the effects factory farm pollution will have on our health," said James Berg, of the Worth County Concerned Citizens. "If we lose the right to draft local laws, we lose the right to protect our families."
Some of the critics contend the very shape of the industry is being changed.