With Greene County on the verge of hitting triple digits in the number of hog confinements, it has become apparent the Greene County Supervisors will ask the Iowa Legislature to review the master matrix but not until they have the blessing of the county Farm Bureau leadership.
Greene County Zoning Coordinator Chuck Wenthold reported to the supervisors at their March 18 meeting he has received notice of a construction permit application for two 2,496-head finishing buildings on 140th Street east of B Avenue in Section 20 of Cedar Township. Colin Brown submitted the application for Brown Pork Site.
It will be the 100th hog confinement in the county.
Wenthold also reported receiving notice of a permit application from Greene County Farm Bureau President John McCormick to add a new 2,480-head finishing building to his existing facility on Iowa Highway 4 west of M Avenue in Section 24 of Highland Township.
Hog CAFOs have been discussed at each of the last three meetings of the Greene County Board of Supervisors.
The supervisors held a public hearing Feb. 26 on an application for Bardole Finisher, a 4,999-head, two-unit CAFO in Section 5 of Washington Township. Permit applicants are Roy Bardole, his sons Tim and Peter Bardole, and his grandson, Schyler Bardole.
Peter Bardole is a Greene County Supervisor, elected in 2016 as a resident of Supervisor District 5, which is totally within the city of Jefferson. Bardole is also a former member of the Greene County Farm Bureau board.
At the February public hearing, Dale Hanaman and his wife, Nancy Hanaman, a cousin of Roy Bardole, asked the supervisors to pass a resolution advising the state legislature to review the master matrix.
Supervisor Chair John Mur said he agreed the master matrix is due to be reviewed and that the supervisors weren’t against “putting it on our agenda to put together a letter or something.”
The idea of a letter produced a heated discussion at the March 4 supervisors meeting, with Farm Bureau members, including McCormick, arguing against revising the matrix and saying a letter to the legislature would “disparage” the livestock-farming constituents who did not deserve to have their elected officials join “livestock opponents” who were waging a “war against modern livestock farmers through bullying and badgering.”
Wenthold had prepared a resolution prior to the meeting that was very similar to a resolution passed by 19 counties that cited the “failings” of the master matrix. Supervisors Bardole and Muir said they did not think the master matrix has failed.
Nancy Hanaman attended the March 11 meeting with a revised draft resolution that included no references to “failure” but instead mentioned “shortcomings” and “inadequacies” of the master matrix. Muir again agreed with asking the legislature to consider updating the master matrix.
“You’re not demanding anything that’s unreasonable in this document,” Muir said of Hanaman’s revised resolution, but he said the supervisors would not move forward without first discussing the resolution with the Greene County Farm Bureau.
Muir said open discussions should benefit everyone and that “somebody should be looking at ways that both sides can feel like their voices are being heard and we still keep animal production a viable part of rural America and rural Iowa and rural Greene County.”
Dale and Nancy Hamanan returned to the March 18 meeting for an update on the status of a resolution. Muir said he liked the revised draft from March 11 but that he was personally more comfortable with sending a letter than a formal resolution.
“I know it might not be the avenue that you wanted,” he told the Hanamans, “but I think it’s an opening and an ability for us to make a comment.”
Muir said heard at second-hand information that Iowa Sen. Jerry Behn is interested in specific proposals about ways to change the matrix. Dale Hanaman described a conversation at a Feb. 23 legislative forum in which revising the master matrix was discussed. None of the supervisors attended the forum.
“I think a letter would communicate that we all see there are some updates that could be done to it, that should be done to it,” Muir said. “I think the voice will be heard better if we have the involvement of everybody that’s concerned, the Farm Bureau and you guys. If we can do that together, it will mean more when we send a letter.”
Muir said a group would be assembled within a month to write a letter to submit to the legislature “and say there are issues that need to be addressed, if for no other reason so people can go about their lives after they (the issues) have been addressed by the legislature.”
Muir assigned former Greene County Farm Bureau Board member and soon-to-be CAFO owner Peter Bardole the task of gathering the group.
Victoria Riley is the editor and publisher of the Greene County News Online.