Another Iowa legislative victory for Big Ag

Factory farm advocates failed in 2009 to circumvent the Iowa DNR’s rulemaking on applying manure over frozen and snow-covered ground. Then they failed in 2010 to win passage of a bill designed to weaken Iowa’s newly-adopted regulations on manure storage and application.

But this year, the Iowa Pork Producers Association succeeded in convincing state lawmakers to relax requirements for CAFO operators to be able to store their own manure properly. All they had to do was dress up their effort as an attempt to help families with aspiring young farmers.

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Iowa House votes to relax manure storage rules for CAFOs (updated)

In an ideal world, evidence that more than half of Midwest rivers and streams can’t support aquatic life would inspire policy-makers to clean up our waterways. Rivers that are suitable for swimming, fishing, and other recreation can be a huge economic engine for Iowa communities.

We live in Iowa, where most of our lawmakers take the Patty Judge view: “Iowa is an agricultural state and anyone who doesn’t like it can leave in any of four directions.”

Yesterday the Iowa House approved a bill to relax manure storage regulations for large confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs). All of the House Republicans and two-thirds of the Democrats supported this bad legislation. Details on the bill and the House vote are below.

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Six links to mark the International Day of Action for Rivers

March 14 is the International Day of Action for Rivers. These stories about water pollution and the economic potential of healthy rivers are worth a read.

Contrary to what agribusiness industry lobbyists would have you believe, a majority of Iowa farmers “support expanding conservation requirements for soil erosion and the control of nitrogen and phosphorous runoff.”

Iowa’s confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs or factory livestock farms) create more untreated manure annually than the total sewage output of the U.S. population.

Aging sewer systems in urban areas also allow too much sewage to leak into watersheds. The I-JOBS infrastructure bonding initiative (signed into law by Governor Chet Culver) included some money to improve sewer systems in Iowa, but we need to do much more on this front.

Iowa Rivers Revival Executive Director Rosalyn Lehman recently published a call to revive Iowa’s rivers in the Des Moines Register. I’ve posted excerpts from her guest editorial after the jump.

The Metro Waste Authority has created an Adopt a Stream website, with “resources to help you organize a stream cleanup in the Greater Des Moines area.”

Dam removal as part of a river restoration project supports local economic activity as well as the environment.

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Clean Water Act 40th anniversary linkfest

Forty years ago today, Congress enacted the Clean Water Act by overriding a presidential veto. Global Water Policy Project Director Sandra Postel is dead on: “As game-changing laws go, the 1972 U.S. Clean Water Act ranks high.”

Though Iowa is still not in full compliance with this law (and may never be during my lifetime), there’s still some good news in the links I’ve enclosed below.

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