Environmentalists seek limits on new Iowa feedlots in sensitive areas

Two Midwest environmental groups are petitioning the Iowa Environmental Protection Commission for rule changes that would make it harder for livestock operations to be built in environmentally sensitive areas of the state. 

The Iowa Environmental Council and Environmental Law & Policy Center filed the petition Wednesday, calling on the state agency to adopt stricter rules governing where livestock producers can build confined animal feeding operations, called CAFOs, in sensitive landscapes.

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources, named in the petition, declined to comment. The Iowa DNR is responsible for enforcing the animal feeding operation rules the Environmental Protection Commission sets.

The groups, which have requested a meeting with state officials, said Thursday they expect the commission will consider the petition within a couple of months.

The site of a 10,000-head cattle feedlot owned by Walz Energy can be seen from the front door of Tammy Thompson's home on Thursday, Nov. 9, 2017, in rural Clayton County. Thompson is worried about the potential for the spread of airborne diseases from the cattle lot to her daily cattle.

Environmental groups have pushed the state to stop the operation of Supreme Beef, a large cattle feedlot in northeast Iowa, saying it threatens nearby Bloody Run Creek, a cold-water trout stream that’s among 34 waterways and lakes designated as Outstanding Iowa Waters.

“The Supreme Beef facility exemplifies the inadequate protections of Iowa’s CAFO regulations: the facility should not have been approved by the DNR,” Alicia Vasto, the Iowa Environmental Council’s water program associate director, said in a statement.

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