Animal site bill revival sought

US - An Iowa environmental group has launched a massive door-to-door campaign to pressure state leaders to resurrect legislation that would increase the distances between new livestock facilities and the state's waterways, homes and tourism areas.
calendar icon 3 July 2007
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Dave Struthers, holding a baby pig on his farm near Collins, thinks livestock farmers are unfairly blamed for high nitrogen and phosphorus levels in Iowa waters. He fears siting legislation would run him and other farmers out of business.

Advocates say such a law is needed to protect Iowa families from harmful water contamination and foul odors.

Opponents say the measure would essentially prohibit growth in the livestock industry and hurt ethanol producers, who frequently sell corn byproducts to those who raise livestock. Together, those effects would create a chilling effect upon the state's economy, they said.

"I think if we do anything to really hinder or hamper the livestock industry in the state, we're going to fall by the wayside regarding the ethanol and other biorenewables," said Rep. Dwayne Alons, a Republican from Hull who is a member of the House Environmental Protection Committee.

The group collecting the signatures, Environment Iowa, has already received the support of thousands of residents of the Des Moines metro and other urban areas. Their goals are to meet with Gov. Chet Culver this summer and to build a citizen-led movement to demand the change.

"Civic engagement starts at the door," said Kathleen Cogan, assistant canvassing director for the group.

Culver is listening to the group, but he is also listening to opponents and will meet with both before next year's legislative session, said Brad Anderson, a spokesman for the governor. In addition, legislators have set up a Livestock Odors Study Committee that will probably make recommendations next year for research related to livestock production facilities.

The legislation proposed this year would have mandated that any new or expanded livestock operation with fewer than 500 animal units - the equivalent of about 1,250 hogs - be at least a quarter-mile away from protected locations; the distance would have increased for larger livestock operations.

Source: DesMoinesRegister

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