Iowa DNR Approves Flawed CAFO

posted on Friday, April 2, 2021 in Water and Land News

Today the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) approved a plan allowing operation of Supreme Beef, a concentrated animal feeding operation that will be allowed to house 11,600 cattle in a region of Iowa known for its stunning topography and unique, tourism-driving trout streams. 

Says IEC Water Program Director Ingrid Gronstal, “If IDNR can approve this facility, which is located in sensitive karst topography, in the watershed of an Outstanding Iowa Water and important cold water trout streams, then current Iowa laws and regulations provide no protection of the public interest and exist solely to rubber stamp livestock industry interests. We look forward to working with our members and others to improve Iowa’s CAFO policy.”  

As IEC highlighted in its public statement, as well as detailed comments, the plan proposed to over-apply manure, made unfounded assumptions of manure nutrient content, failed to list conservation practices, and poses a threat to water quality in the region. Each of these deficiencies independently provided a basis for DNR to disapprove the application. DNR approved manure application on 43 of 45 fields that Supreme Beef proposed in its application. 

IEC staff attorney Michael Schmidt stated, “IDNR’s refusal to disapprove the plan submitted by Supreme Beef shows the sad state of affairs in Iowa when it comes to animal feeding operations. State laws and the DNR both prioritize new concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) over protecting our streams, rivers, and lakes. This example shows how far we have to go to protect the resources Iowans rely on and enjoy. The Iowa Environmental Council engaged with DNR and local residents about this facility in several ways and we will evaluate next steps.” 

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