Opinion

Other counties getting strict on CAFOs

To the editor:


Lee Dimmitt, in his Aug. 23 letter to The Ledger, said that if county supervisors take away points on a Master Matrix scoring, and the Department of Natural Resources disagrees with them, the DNR will take away the county?s ability to use the Master Matrix. That is false. That has never happened.


If the DNR disagrees with a county scoring and reinstates Master Matrix points which county supervisors have denied, the county can appeal those points with the Iowa Environmental Protection Commission. It happened a number of times when I served on the EPC.


It appears that the Jefferson County Supervisors are more concerned about not offending CAFO owners ? even an out-of-county owner with 21 other CAFOs ? than they are about protecting the health and quality of life of rural residents. Increasingly, other county boards across Iowa are recognizing that the proliferation of CAFOs poses a threat to their county and that the Master Matrix is a sham. They are taking stronger stands.


Some counties are becoming very strict in their scoring of Master Matrix points. Some county boards have even refused to pass a Master Matrix application that scores enough points, because they are interested in protecting the rights of their citizens over the profits of CAFO owners. Some county boards in Iowa have called for a moratorium on new CAFOs.


Make no mistake about it: many Iowa citizens have had their health and quality of life severely compromised when CAFOs moved into their neighborhoods. Published studies in peer-reviewed scientific journals have documented the detrimental health effects of living near CAFOs.


When I served a four-year term on the Iowa Environmental Protection Commission, I heard many first-hand accounts of how people?s lives were turned upside down when a CAFO moved into their neighborhood.


Some had to seal their houses airtight. Some had to live in their basements. Quite a number have had to abandon their homes completely and move elsewhere. These are serious infringements on people?s rights as citizens. How can we allow this to happen in Iowa?


Eventually, after enough people have been harmed, after enough people have had their rights trampled over, Iowa citizens will rise up to end this CAFO charade. In the meantime, we have to do what we can to protect ourselves. County boards of supervisors can either lead the charge or wither in fear of offending CAFO owners and the agricultural status quo.


 


- Francis Thicke, Fairfield