Know your Factory Farm Five: Max Smith

Iowa’s Environmental Protection Commissioner Max Smith

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.

Max Smith

Appointed to the EPC by Governor Branstad on May 1, 2012

  • With his wife Sharon, Smith owns and runs Smith Fertilizer and Grain, a “full service fertilizer, feed supplier and grain receiving facility” with offices in Knoxville, Albia, Centerville, and Pleasantville.
  • Smith Fertilizer and Grain runs a farrow-to-finish hog confinement (factory farm) housing 4,117 hogs in Knoxville, IA.
  • Smith has received multiple Notices of Violations from the Department of Natural Resources, and neighbors have filed numerous complaints concerning the factory farm, many related to potential pollution of a nearby farm pond.
  • Max Smith also sits on the board of directors of the Agribusiness Association of Iowa (AAI), as the Chair-Elect. AAI gives thousands of dollars every year to the Iowa Agribusiness PAC ($20,000 in 2012, $40,000 in 2013), which distributes the money to various state legislative candidates. In 2011, Governor Branstad appointed Sharon Smith, Max’s wife, to the Grain Indemnity Fund Board.
  • Max Smith has 2 notice of violations for not submitting his manure management plan on time (2004 & 2007).
  • He also has a compliance review for applying manure to the wrong fields (2006).
  • There are numerous complaints from a neighbor who thinks Smith’s factory farm is polluting his farm pond.  He has filed 2 complaints and had his pond tested (2001, 2002).  DNR said levels are somewhat high but it the contamination was not excessive enough to kill fish.
  • Another neighbor filed a complaint for the horrible odor while he was spreading his manure (2004)

Max Smith needs to hear from more Iowans like you that we want strong rules that protect our water.



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