Bill for Clean Water Iowa passes out of sub-committee!

A commonsense bill to strengthen manure application laws passed out of the Senate Natural Resources and Environment Sub-committee in a 2 to 1 vote today. Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement Action Fund members say this bill will crack down on factory farm polluters.

Democratic Senators Joe Bolkcom of Iowa City and Janet Petersen of Des Moines voted in favor of the bill. Senator Rozenboom, Republican from Oskaloosa, voted against the bill.

“This bill is commonsense.  You can’t spread manure when it’s not safe. Period.“ Said Barb Kalbach, Board President of Iowa CCI Action Fund, 4th generation family farmer, and member of the CCI Action Citizen Lobby Team, “Anyone who’s against this bill is against clean water.”

If passed into law, the bill would strengthen the state’s ban on spreading liquid manure from factory farms when:

1)    The ground is frozen ground or snow-covered;

2)    The ground is water-saturated;

3)    The 24 hour weather forecast calls for ½ inch of rain or more;

4)    The ground is sloped at 20% or greater.

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“These clear definitions on when manure shouldn’t be applied really are commonsense”, said CCI Action Fund member and retired school teacher, Cherie Mortice, “Farmers who care about protecting Iowa’s water would never spread manure under these conditions, but unfortunately voluntary compliance just doesn’t work.”

Iowa’s 8,500 factory farms produce billions of gallons of toxic liquid manure every year that is spread untreated onto Iowa farmland.  The manure can leach from fields into waterways when it is applied in unsafe conditions or at unsafe levels.  Since 1998, when the DNR began keeping records on impaired waterways, the number has increased from 159 to 630 polluted waterways.

According to Food and Water Watch, Iowa’s vast confinement facilities house 21.6 million hogs, 1.2 million beef cattle, 52.4 million egg-laying hens, 1 million broiler chickens, and 64,500 dairy cows. Altogether, this teeming horde annually churns out as much untreated manure as the sewage from 471 million people—more than the entire US population.

A similar bill, “The Toxic-Algae Bloom Bill”, passed unanimously out of the Ohio Senate as a response to the toxic-algae blooms that forced the City of Toledo to shut off their drinking water supply.  The bill was supported by the Ohio Farm Bureau. The Iowa Farm Bureau has yet to register on this bill.

Kalbach says, “Why hasn’t the Iowa Farm Bureau come out in favor of legislation that protects our water from factory farm manure pollution?”

The lobby groups registered in favor of the commonsense, manure application bill include Iowa Farmer’s Union, Des Moines Water Works, and Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement Action Fund. Groups that have registered undecided are Iowa State Dairy Association, Iowa Pork Producers Assoc., Iowa Cattlemen’s Assoc., and Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

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