Letter to the editor – Dean Hoskins re: Stumpf CAFO application

To the editor,

On Monday of this week,  a debacle of large proportion was visited upon our community. Another pair of CAFO hog factories were approved by the Greene County board of supervisors for submittal to the DNR for the issuance of construction permits.

There was overwhelming opposition to the one proposed by Todd Stumpf, of Twin Lake Iowa.  A total of one lone county resident offered support. The voiced opposition consumed the ZOOM meeting for 1-1/2 hours, which would have extended another hour, if board chairman Muir had not ended it prematurely. The closest resident did not even get to speak at the forum.

In Rick Morain’s article in this Jefferson Herald dated May 14, 2020 we read “Supervisors Mick Burkett, Pete Bardole and John Muir all said they rely on the DNR matrix scoring {as basis for their vote}…….and the County is very limited on what they can do on such projects.”  This is a misconception..  Supervisor Rudolph courageously stood against this project, with the sole “nay” vote .

First of all,  Becky Sexton of Twin Lakes Environmental (an advocacy firm for hog producers located in Rockwell City, Iowa) under contract to the people proposing the CAFO, tabulates the master matrix (or more properly-Construction Evaluation Resolution). She is not part of the DNR. As this is a paid -for evaluation tool, close scrutiny is not only justified, but very necessary, by the board of supervisors. Prior to the vote, Mick Burkett asked a question “who scored this matrix?” The board is actually tasked with performing a  public review of the matrix. They themselves are charged with matrix scoring, and they do not even appear to be aware of this.

Secondly, one has to wonder what is being voted on? If the board of supervisors’ power is so limited, and “aye” votes are required by the DNR, then why have a meeting? And if no acknowledgement of any submitted documents (from the public) is given, then why hold a public meeting?

I personally submitted a revised matrix scoring sheet, and a full letter of explanation, and it was ignored. I had put a great deal of time into preparing it, as others had who also submitted their material. The matrix only had passed the minimum 440 points by 20 points, or only one line item. This, in itself, dictated far closer scrutiny than normal. Given proper vetting, the scoring would surely have been adjusted downward.

Third, the voting was then based on the flawed assumption that the matrix is a recommendation of the DNR, when it is only a county tool and the board actually recommends to the DNR. This faulty assumption was stated by three supervisors as basis for their vote.

Fourth, the review of the matrix is to be carefully done in a public line-by-line fashion. Furthermore,  I would ask – who is used as a technical advisor to authenticate the scoring?

Yes, the April 20 meeting was later described to have been the matrix review, but a  “Nothing to see here…” attitude prevails. And, of course the meeting minutes show no careful review and no vote taken to accept, was taken.

The larger problem here is that the public is not informed of any matrix review in the newspaper, so few if any (including myself) were aware it was being held. [I am told by the only public April 20 attendee that she did not attend because of the matrix review, but that she  simply audits all supervisor meetings]. Of course with no notification, public attendance will not occur, and following that, no further matrix scrutiny will be allowed, by the board.

In the later  ‘public’ meeting on Monday May 11,  the 40 attendees were told the matrix was DNR approved, which was apparently not the case, per information provided by the DNR themselves.

This procedure has made Greene County a CAFO magnet….the public has no voice in the process. This must change. Soon there will be a CAFO every half mile in the county. Let us also hope the DNR will show good sense, and send this CAFO request back to county for proper review, or have the County not send it on without correction, initially.

Dean Hoskins, Highland Township – May 16, 2020


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