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Worth County Against CAFOs group holds meeting

By Staff | Aug 11, 2017

Edith Haenel, Northwood, explains her opposition of CAFOs to the attendees at the meeting of Worth County Against CAFOs held on August 3 in Kensett.

KENSETT – Worth County Against CAFOs is a recently-formed organization that held its second meeting at the town hall in Kensett on the evening of Aug. 3.

Approximately 50 people attended the meeting.

Attendees, upon entering and signing in, received a sheet titled “Impact of CAFOs on Rural Iowa Communities” with statistics from Socially Responsible Agriculture, Iowa Alliance for Responsible Agriculture and Hudson River Sloop Clearwater.

A second handout available was a letter to five Worth County farmers who are each in the early stages of building a CAFO on their farm.*

Edith Haenel, of Northwood, conducted the meeting.

She explained that she received a phone call two-and-a-half weeks ago from a neighbor who asked about her feelings about the CAFO that was being built near her.

It was that phone call that resulted in a meeting of the neighbors. It was the first meeting of Worth County Against CAFOs.

Haenel said she suffers from epilepsy and her seizures can be triggered from aromatic hydrocarbons, mainly methane and hydrogen sulfide.

“My seizures are currently controlled,” said Haenel.

She added that while any supporters of CAFOs in Worth County attending the meeting are welcome, the speakers will be those who are opposed to CAFOs.

Much of the meeting was focused on water quality, with Worth County resident Paul Norland explaining how Worth County topography is sensitive to manure spills and any leakage from pits where manure is stored.

“I never want to hear of pollutants getting into the soil,” said Norland. “How do you get it out?”

Chris Peterson, of Clear Lake, is past president of the Iowa Farmers Union and serves on the board.

His presentation told of the loss of the independent hog producer.

“We’re going the wrong direction here,” said Peterson.

He expressed dissatisfaction with what hog producers are receiving in the market place.

“We are not getting paid enough for what we do,” said Peterson, adding he believes the laws are in place for expanding CAFOs in the coming years.

“They are clearing the road for the industry,” he said.

According to Worth County Against CAFOs public Facebook page, it is wanting to encourage a moratorium on CAFOs in Worth County, along with a rewriting of the matrix to lower the threshold where state regulations apply.

Worth County Supervisor Merlin Bartz, of Grafton, was in attendance at the meeting. It was decided by the three Worth County supervisors he should attend the meeting to hear what was said.

Bartz answered questions from the audience from where he sat.

In a phone interview conducted after the meeting, Bartz said the five CAFOs being built in Worth County are under the size to use the matrix that applies to larger units as spelled out by Iowa law.

The new Worth County CAFOs are required to file a manure management plan which is kept on file by the county supervisors.

“From the viewpoint of the supervisors, they have met all the state criteria, and we have received their manure management plan,” Bartz said.

He added the five farmers putting up their CAFOs are young farmers who are deciding to use their labor to expand their farming operations and build capital through livestock.

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