Groups call for six-month moratorium on new CAFOs


Editor’s note: Eighteen environmental, community and agricultural organizations called on Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds Thursday to enforce an immediate six-month moratorium on factory farm construction permits in order “to prevent public health and environmental exploitation by the factory farm industry,” according to a statement issued by Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement. The text of the letter follows.

Governor Reynolds,

Iowans overwhelmed with the COVID-19 crisis are infuriated by the removal of nearly all environmental protections from factory farms and the compromised democratic process for CAFO/factory farm permitting amid the global health pandemic. Members of Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, allied organizations and concerned individuals across the state are demanding an immediate six-month moratorium on factory farm construction permits to prevent additional public health risks and environmental exploitation by the factory farm industry.

Iowa has over 10,000 factory farms. Factory farms are a known public health hazard, causing a variety of health problems including respiratory issues especially for vulnerable populations. This is such a public health concern that the American Public Health Association has called for a moratorium. In the midst of a global health pandemic, Iowans are overwhelmed with public safety and health concerns. We should not have to worry about a factory farm moving in, further threatening our public health during and beyond this crisis.

The leadership you appointed to the Iowa DNR has rolled back environmental protections from the factory farm industry, allowing factory farms to cram extra livestock into confinements and suspending fines for environmental violations. Currently, 90% of the nitrates and 75% of the phosphorus in Iowa’s waterways come from industrial agriculture and factory farms. Clean water is a human right and essential in moments like these.

Despite their offices closing and limited activities being switched to virtual teleconferences, the DNR continues approving factory farm construction permits. With public hearings at the county level out of the question for the foreseeable future, each county board of supervisors is being forced to determine how they will proceed with public comments when they receive a factory farm application and all without any local control or decision making power.

The effects of the COVID-19 are and will continue to impact Iowans beyond even the immediate crisis we are facing. The undersigned organizations demand you stand with the interests of everyday Iowans by protecting our public health, our right to clean water and our ability to participate in the democratic process by implementing an immediate six-month moratorium.


Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement
Adam Mason, State Policy Organizing Director

Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom
Jan Corderman, (515) 205-4504

Poweshiek CARES
Val Vetter,

Southern Boone County Farmers and Neighbors
Danielle Wirth Ph.D.,

Jefferson County Farmers and Neighbors
Diane Rosenberg,

Iowa Citizens for Responsible Agriculture – Worth County
Edith Haenel,

Northeast Iowans for Clean Air and Water
Sue George,

Calhoun County Against CAFO’s
Emma Schmit,

Henry County Farmers and Neighbors
Ronald Wyse,

Des Moines County Farmers and Neighbors for Optimal Health
Jean Lappe,

Physicians for Social Responsibility
Maureen McCue,

Food & Water Watch
Krissy Kasserman,

Science and Environmental Health Network
Carolyn Raffensperger,

Linn County Farmers and Neighbors
Regina Behmlander,

Organic Consumer Association
Patrick Kerrigan,

Iowa Alliance for Responsible Agriculture
Diane Rosenberg,

Socially Responsible Agriculture Project
Chris Peterson,

Howard County Democrats
Laura Hubka,


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