Supes given a revised resolution asking for update of master matrix

The county supervisors were again asked to consider a resolution to Gov Kim Reynolds and the Iowa legislature asking that the master matrix used in permitting the construction of concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) be updated.

During a public hearing Feb. 25 on a permit for Bardole Finishing, the 99th hog CAFO in the county, board chair John Muir agreed with speakers at the hearing who said it’s time to revise the master matrix.

County zoning and environmental health coordinator Chuck Wenthold provided the supervisors a localized version of a resolution that has been passed by 19 other counties at the March 4 meeting.

Dale and Nancy Hanaman attended the meeting, having spoken in favor of such a resolution a week earlier. Also in attendance were several county Farm Bureau members. They spoke against any revisions to the matrix, saying that revising the matrix could lead to more regulation and damage the livestock industry in Iowa.

During that discussion, supervisor Peter Bardole, a partner in Bardole Finishing and a Farm Bureau member, objected to the claim in the draft resolution that the matrix has failed.

Nancy Hanaman returned to the supervisors March 11 with a new draft that does not say the matrix has failed, but instead refers to “shortcomings” and “inadequacies”. The draft suggests county boards should be allowed each year to set the point threshold for approval of a permit.

Click here to read the proposed resolution.

There were no members of the Farm Bureau at the meeting, and supervisor Bardole was absent.

Hanaman said her intent was to keep a resolution under consideration, and that it be placed on an upcoming agenda. “I appreciate that we can discuss this in a fair and civil manner with each other,” she said.

Muir said he personally thinks “after that many years, an update is not a bad thing…. I think everybody, with input from everybody, should feel comfortable with having it looked at. You’re not demanding anything that’s unreasonable in this document.”

Supervisor Dawn Rudolph used the landscaping portion of the matrix was something that could be revised, noting how specific it is in the species of trees and the time frame for planting.

“Our response this morning would be I like this foundation, but in order for us to move forward, to be fair to everybody, we need to pass this on to the Farm Bureau… I feel like having some kind of voice from our board to the state isn’t wrong. We just want to make sure we are unified in what we’re asking,” Muir said.

Chris Henning pointed out that some Farm Bureau members use cover crops, which reduce the run-off of nutrients and soil from fields. “I think the case could be brought to the Farm Bureau that we don’t farm the way we used to. … If we all looked at how we can do better at keeping our waters clean, instead of thinking our river is taking things away so we didn’t have to deal with it… I suggest looking at the matrix, bringing a group of maybe three or four from one side and three or four from the other side… to bring some things to you. The way the legislature is set up, the way this rule is set up, you have to ask to be able to do even that. So ask. Please ask,” she said.

“I understand that the Farm Bureau people have ideas how it’ll work. They’re also promoting cover crops. But you can’t add that in (to the matrix) to what you require of us unless we all ask to look at it,” Henning said.

Muir said open discussions shouldn’t penalize “one side or the other, but should benefit everybody. I have to think there are minds better than ours, someplace, that can come up with a plan…. 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.”

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