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Public pressure stops proposed CAFO in Dallas County

by: desmoinesdem

Wed May 16, 2012 at 16:51:35 PM CDT

Farmers have withdrawn an application to build a 5,000-head hog facility in northern Dallas County, amid strong local opposition to the project.
desmoinesdem :: Public pressure stops proposed CAFO in Dallas County
The confined animal feeding operation (CAFO) would have been located near Minburn (Beaver Township). Nearly 350 Iowans signed the following online petition to the Dallas County supervisors:

Deny the permit for a 5,000-head hog confinement

This CAFO will harm the community by producing toxic air pollution, potential water pollution, damage to the roads, and dampening economic development in the area. It will also adversely impact neighbors including Picket Fence Creamery, Small Potatoes Farm, the new bike trail near Woodward, and many others.

Many central Iowa stores carry milk, butter, ice cream, or other products from the Picket Fence Creamery, a small dairy near Woodward. Small Potatoes Farm grows certified organic produce and sells vegetables to their community-supported agriculture members as well as through outlets like Wheatsfield Co-op in Ames and the Des Moines-based Iowa Food Coop. The bike trail mentioned above is the High Trestle Trail, which runs from Ankeny to Woodward.

Neighbors concerned about potential new water and air pollution noted that the developers live several miles upwind of the site where the CAFO would have been located. One neighbor told KCCI-TV that a local realtor said her family's home would be worth $55,000 less with a hog confinement facility nearby.

Yesterday the Dallas County supervisors were scheduled to hold a public hearing on the permit application for this CAFO. However, that hearing was cancelled at short notice. From Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement's May 15 press release:

The scheduled public hearing for a 5,000 head hog factory farm proposed by Mike Brelsford and Cargill in Beaver Township, Dallas County has been cancelled. Members of Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (Iowa CCI) and concerned citizens of Dallas County were demanding the Dallas County Board of Supervisors fail the Master Matrix and recommend denial of the Brelsford Pork factory farm construction permit. In the wake of Brelsford pulling the permit application, we are holding a press conference to announce this victory.

Local residents and neighbors in Beaver Township opposed the construction of this factory farm because of the environmental and economic damage it will cause to their local rural community. The proposed site was located in the Raccoon River watershed where over 500,000 people in the Des Moines Metro area receive their drinking water. It is in a heavily populated area in eastern Dallas County near organic CSA Small Potatoes Farm and other family farmers and local food producers.

When I heard the news yesterday, I wondered whether the Brelsfords were withdrawing the application in order to tweak it and re-submit the proposal. However, the letter from the farmers suggests that they have dropped the project:

Brelsford Family Farms
May 15, 2012

Our family has made the decision to withdraw our application to build a hog confinement building in Dallas County.

As a Third Generation family farm, our values are deeply rooted to farming the land today, and for future generations. We also believe in being a strong supporter of our rural community.

After taking into account and addressing the concerns from immediate neighbors, our decision is to withdraw our application.

We would like [to] thank the people who have shown positive support for our family farm and to the people committed to growing Iowa agriculture.

Mike and Susan Brelsford
Brelsford Family Farms

I didn't find any reference to the CAFO application or its withdrawal on the Brelsford Family Farms website. The Small Potatoes Farm site has a prominent front-page link to the Dallas County Farmers and Neighbors Facebook community, which was coordinating opposition to the CAFO.

Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement has helped fight scores of factory farm proposals around Iowa and recently mentioned more than a dozen other controversial CAFOs in planning around the state. Opponents don't win every battle, but I appreciate their hard work, since this state's political leaders do nothing to stop massive hog farms from further diminishing air and water quality. Iowa CCI's willingness to take on this challenge is one reason I have no patience for professional Democrats who tried to demonize this organization last year.

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