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Thursday, May 10, 2007

Blog for Iowa: Guest Opinion: What Has Democrats Running Scared in CAFO Regulation?

Excerpted from this post at Blog for Iowa
Proponents of reinstating local control of Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) approached this year's legislative session with great optimism. ... Reestablishing local control—abolished by the legislature in 1995—would give counties authority over the siting of CAFOs, to allow additional protections for the environment and communities beyond statewide standards for CAFOs. Our optimism was short-lived. Immediately after the fall election, Democratic Party leaders—Patrick Murphy in the House and Michael Gronstal in the Senate—began stonewalling, saying they would not allow local control to come up for a vote in this year's legislative session. Furthermore, Governor Culver was completely silent on the issue ... Why are we still left with the reality that although less than one percent of Iowans have a vested interested in hog CAFOs, they hold sway over all the rest of us with the legislature? ... Some of the answers to those questions are obvious to anyone familiar with the influence of big money in politics. First, the Iowa Farm Bureau and other agribusiness groups—who lobby relentlessly for the privileges of CAFO owners over the rights of ordinary citizens—made campaign contributions to legislators of both parties and both legislative houses. ... Second, those same organizations employed an army of lobbyists to incessantly hammer any legislator who dared consider voting against their directive that there be no legislation regulating CAFOs.

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Andy Szal

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