Know your Factory Farm Five: Gene Ver Steeg

Iowa’s Environmental Protection Commissioner Gene Ver Steeg

Five out of the nine Iowa Environmental Protection Commissioners own, or have a direct financial interest, in factory farms. Despite this blatant conflict of interest, they sit on the Environmental Protection Commission (EPC).

The EPC is deciding whether or not to strengthen the Clean Water Act rule on August 19. Strengthening the rule means addressing the factory farm manure pollution that has contributed to Iowa’s 630 polluted waterways. Here’s a closer look at one of those meant to protect our environment, and why he should absolutely recuse himself from a vote.

Gene Ver Steeg

Appointed to the EPC  in May 2013 by Governor Branstad and previously sat on the EPC from 2008-2011

  • Ver Steeg is a farmer by trade, running three confinements housing approximately 5,800 hogs. He also holds a veterinarian degree, although he no longer practices.
  • From 2006-2007, Ver Steeg served as the president of the Iowa Pork Producers Association. He has a decades-long record of pro-factory farm lobbying efforts, serving in leadership positions on the local to national level of the Pork Producers, Farm Bureau, and other industry groups.
  • “While hauling liquid manure on the morning of Nov. 13, 2013, Ver Steeg spilled about 1,500 gallons of manure along 260th Street in Lyon County”, according to the Department of Natural Resource’s (DNR) records.
    • The records state that Ver Steeg was hauling the manure to another farm while it was still dark and thought everything was sealed. He later noticed that something had leaked along a mile and a half of road. The county cleaned and scraped most of the waste off of the street and the fire department later washed off the rest.
    • Ver Steeg confirmed that account and said the DNR did not fine him.
    • “This certainly wasn’t a catastrophe. It was illegal, I did report it, and DNR could have fined me, but they didn’t,” Ver Steeg said, adding that the DNR is usually more lenient if the spill is an accident and is cleaned up properly.”

Gene Ver Steeg needs to hear from more Iowans like you that we want strong rules that protect our water.



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