Our View: Factory farms remain hot button issue in rural communities

For too long, politicians have espoused populist rhetoric during the campaign, only to fall flat once they’re elected.


By Hugh Espey, executive director of Iowa CCI Action Fund. This column first appeared on the Des Moines Register’s A Better Iowa site.

With 8 days to go in the 2012 election cycle, a host of local issues continue to sway voters at the county and state level. In many rural areas, none of these issues is more important than local control of factory farms.

After an unprecedented expansion of the corporate factory farm industry across Iowa this Spring and Summer, local folks who have organized their communities and fought back have amplified the call for local control, stronger permitting standards, increased separation distances, and tougher fines and penalties for polluters.

Why can factory farms build so close to my house?

Why can they spread manure right up to my property line?

Why don’t factory farms have to tell us that they are going to build?

Why don’t we have veto power at the local level (local control) over whether factory farms can build?

These questions aren’t new. Our members, in all areas of the state, have raised them with candidates – and at the statehouse – many times before.

Candidates have heard the call. Local control has been an important campaign issue in the past four Gubernatorial races. Recent polling shows that 60 percent of Iowans want stronger and more effective public oversight over factory farm polluters.

But for too long, politicians of both political parties have espoused populist rhetoric during the campaign, only to fall flat – and not follow through with “put people first” public policies – once they’re elected and in office.

So as supervisor and statehouse candidates head into the final week of their campaigns, they can expect to continue hearing questions about what they’ll do to crack down on factory farms and the pollution they cause.

And Nov. 6th is just the beginning. They can expect to see CCI Action Fund members out in force at the state capitol on January 15 – and throughout the 2013 legislative session.












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