Iowa lawmakers chose corporate agriculture and factory farms again

Emma Schmit (Food & Water Action) and Ava Auen-Ryan (CCI Action): Certain Iowa leaders kept the factory farm moratorium from advancing this year, despite unprecedented support. -promoted by Laura Belin

Iowans kicked off 2020 with an unprecedented push to stop factory farms and address climate chaos, but this legislative session’s first deadline passed with no action. 

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Iowa deserves to be more than just a feedlot between two rivers

Emma Schmit is an Iowa organizer for Food & Water Watch. -promoted by Laura Belin

In December, U.S. Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey introduced a historic new vision for agriculture and food in the United States. The Farm System Reform Act would overhaul our unsustainable food and agriculture model and strengthen the Packers & Stockyards Act to give independent family farmers a fighting chance against monopolistic, corporate integrators. It restores mandatory Country of Origin Labeling, so consumers know where their food is coming from.

What makes it truly revolutionary, though, is that it calls for an end to factory farming. The Farm System Reform Act is the first ever national factory farm ban legislation.

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The Swine Republic

Chris Jones is a research engineer (IIHR-Hydroscience and Engineering) at the University of Iowa. An earlier version of this piece was first published on the author’s blog. -promoted by Laura Belin

I have written some things about manure lately (link, link, link, link). If you were able to make it to the end of those essays, you learned:

· We have a lot of livestock animals in Iowa

· These animals produce a lot of waste

· This waste is used to fertilize crops

· Manure is a good fertilizer

· Sales of commercial fertilizer are not affected very much by the availability of manure

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Flood reduction and clean water solutions are not magic

UPDATE: The Iowa House approved an amended version of Senate File 548 on a mostly party-line 52 to 44 vote. The Senate approved the bill by 33 votes to 17. Governor Kim Reynolds signed the bill on May 9.

Angelisa Belden is communications and development director for the Iowa Environmental Council. -promoted by Laura Belin

Iowans are dealing with the aftermath of receding flood waters this week. Heart-wrenching stories have emerged about returning to decimated homes, topsoil-choked streams headed for the Gulf of Mexico, and the sad task of removing lifeless bodies of young calves who couldn’t withstand the deluge.

Commentators and elected officials are missing the point – or at least failing to bring proper attention to – the obvious and science-based solution to not only water quantity but water quality crises facing our state. We must adopt policy and pass laws that slow down the water running off of our farm fields. That task starts with the federal Farm Bill but ends here at home with efforts to replace Iowa’s lax environmental rules with meaningful protections for land and water.

Senate File 548, the bill that would restrict the use of loans from the State Revolving Fund to purchase land for water quality projects, is a step in the wrong direction.

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When advocacy works: One bad land bill defeated, efforts to stop another

Angelisa Belden is communications and development director for the Iowa Environmental Council. -promoted by Laura Belin

Iowans were up in arms this week in reaction to two bad bills aimed at restricting acquisition or expansion of public lands. House File 542, introduced by Republican State Representative David Seick, and Senate Study Bill 1221, introduced by GOP State Senator Ken Rozenboom, would severely limit the ability for state agencies, cities and counties, and private citizens to acquire or donate land for public projects.

In a state with just 2 percent of land in public holding, these bills were a drastic overreach to answer a problem that doesn’t exist.

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Royceann Porter overcame hidden racism in historic victory

Let’s start with the good news: Democrat Royceann Porter made history by winning the December 18 special election for Johnson County supervisor. The longtime community activist and labor organizer gained 5,444 votes (56 percent) to 4,167 votes (43 percent) for Republican Phil Hemingway, a member of the Iowa City school board. Porter is the first African American to win a county-wide office in Johnson County and will be one of four women on a five-member board that never had more than two women serving at the same time before this November’s election.

John Deeth took a granular look at the county’s urban and rural voting patterns in his preview of this election and his analysis of the unofficial results. He sees signs of a possible “watershed moment in county politics.”

While a Democrat winning in “the People’s Republic of Johnson County” might not seem newsworthy, Porter’s victory was not a foregone conclusion. A Republican won a low-turnout special election for a county supervisor seat in 2013. The compressed time frame for the special election gave Porter only four weeks to build up her name recognition. Her opponent was better-known, having already won local office. The Farm Bureau chapter drummed up support for Hemingway with a mass mailing, which was unprecedented for a county race, according to longtime area politics-watchers.

Porter also had to contend with a tremendous amount of implicit bias among voters who probably would not consider themselves racist.

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