Naylor: Institutions like ISU are not working for ‘We, the People’

Highland Township farmer George Naylor, past president of the National Family Farm Coalition, addressed the Greene County board of supervisors May 18 about the board’s financial support of the defense of Buena Vista, Sac and Calhoun Counties in a lawsuit filed by Des Moines Water Works. The lawsuit alleges that agricultural drainage tiles are point source polluters and should function under the same federal regulatory framework as industry.

The following is a transcript of Naylor’s comments:

“We’re all concerned about water quality. At least we ought to be. We ought to be concerned about the health of our citizens here in Greene County and the future health of our children and grandchildren.

“We’re given this volunteer strategy that is supposed to work. It’s not going to work. The person that pollutes is going to make more profit. The person that does what’s right is going to make less profit. So you tell me, whose going to win in that situation? The person that puts up a big hog confinement or the corporation that puts up big hog confinements and delivers millions of gallons of manure to our county? They profit and the rest of us get stuck with dirty water. That’s obviously not going to work.

“We’re not like the fish in the stream that just all of a sudden are dying and they go belly up. We’re human beings and not corporations. We have values that are important and our institutions, Iowa State University, ought to be working on behalf of we the people. Our courts ought to be, but the truth is these corporations have taken control of our institutions, and they speak on behalf of the corporations instead of us.

“Whatever the merits of the Des Moines Water Works lawsuit are, I can’t judge much, but I do know – look at the Supreme Court, there are many five-four decisions – that these things are debatable. The scale will tip one way or another depending on the political influence and whether that court thinks that it needs to uphold what we the people think is really important to we the people, or whether we just don’t pay attention and they end up supporting the interests of corporations.

“So, Bill Stowe evidently in Des Moines is saying, ‘Hey, this is crazy. This is going the wrong way.’ Our water quality is getting worse. Nobody is speaking up for we the people and our health, so somebody’s got to, even though there may not be any merit to his lawsuit whatsoever.

“So, it’s about time that we start speaking up for we the people right here. If we just fall in line with the Farm Bureau and the commodity organizations and Prestage Farms and Iowa Select etc, etc, and say ‘Oh, this whole thing is aimed against farmers’ when it’s really not. It’s aimed at a system that’s only working for a few people instead of we the people, then we’re just going to wake up some day when Jefferson is an island in a county – even though you guys represent the whole county – there won’t be anybody to represent except people in Jefferson, because it will be way too late.

“Right now hog confinements… It gets to the point where corporate hogs come home to roost, and then nobody, even the people that are actually currently benefiting from having hog confinements, their lives are going to be miserable too. All our lives are going to be miserable, and our water quality is going to be horrendous and there won’t be a damn thing we can do.

“We’ve got to recognize what’s wrong with this system and we’ve got to demand that our institutions actually represent us and we not just be like the fish that go ‘Oh, too late. We’re belly up.’

“Before you just jump on the bandwagon and say Bill Stowe is crazy and his lawsuit has no merit, which it might, we have a problem and we ought to be addressing it one way or another.”

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