County supes ask for review of master matrix

The Greene County supervisors on Monday approved a letter to state elected officials lauding the county’s hog growers and their practices, and asking the legislature to consider changes to the master matrix, the tool used to evaluate applications for the construction permit needed for new confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs).

The final version of the letter is very similar to a draft reviewed a week ago. The letter was written by supervisor Peter Bardole, a partner in a hog CAFO recently permitted by the Iowa DNR.

The change in the draft is the addition of language suggested by Chris Henning last week that the legislature convene a blue ribbon committee to consider and make recommendations for changes the matrix upon which the legislature can act.

The letter will be sent Gov Kim Reynolds, Rep Phil Thompson, Sen Jerry Behn, and the supervisors’ affiliate of the Iowa State Association of Counties. It will be signed personally by all five supervisors.

“I think it’s a good time to acknowledge that we think it’s time to start looking at it,” board chair John Muir said. ”Technology has changed.”

“In all fairness, I think both sides can see the other’s side. I don’t think there’s anybody that has concerns about hog production in Greene County that wants livestock production moved out of the county,” Muir said. “In the same way, I think the producers have the same concerns about water quality. If they’re losing nitrogen or nitrates into the water supply, that’s not their goal. Their goal is to make use of that with their crops. We’re trying to be very general and still get the points across for both sides. I think this letter opens the door and gets us involved in that conversation.”

Click here to read the letter.

The supervisors also held a public hearing on an expansion of a CAFO operated by Mike Wenger in Paton Township, Section 36. His first hogs went into his first building Oct. 31, 2016. The Wenger family has raised hogs there since 1976, and the nearest home to the CAFO is owned by Mike Wenger’s son. Mike Wenger shared information and no one spoke in opposition to the permit. The operation scored 465 on the master matrix.

In other hog business, Dale Hanaman, who lives close to the new Bardole CAFO, noted new white rock has been put on 280th St west from County Road P-40 as far as the driveway into the Bardole site. He asked about the county’s plans to continue with the new gravel west to T Ave and beyond.

Muir explained that it’s the secondary roads department’s practice to evaluate the road to a CAFO site and make sure it’s in a condition able to handle the weight of the trucks that will be using it. He told Hanaman there’s no plan to put down new gravel past the entrance to the site.

Supervisor Dawn Rudolph added that it isn’t only for CAFO construction, but for any projects that will cause heavy trucks to use the road.

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