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County’s decision urges state to strengthen livestock permitting rules

Article cover photo
Lauris Olson explains her vote Tuesday during a meeting of the Story County Board of Supervisors in Nevada. It was a 2-1 vote in favor of a resolution that petitions the governor and the Iowa Legislature to address current laws, rules and procedures for permitting concentrated animal feeding operations. (Photo: Joseph L. Murphy/Iowa Soybean Association)

By Bethany Baratta, ISA senior writer


The Story County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, Feb. 19 passed a resolution to petition the Iowa legislature to address what they say are the failings of the current laws and procedures for permitting concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs). The resolution also supports a moratorium on new or expanding animal feeding operations.

Casey Allison, a Story County crop and livestock farmer, told Supervisors Linda Murken, Lauris Olson and Rick Sanders she was concerned about the then-proposed resolution and the implications it could have for young farmers like herself.

“This issue hits especially close to me. My family has been farming in story county for multiple generations and we intend to continue that legacy for future generations,” Allison said. “One of the major challenges in doing this (passing the farm from one generation to the next) is creating an income for the next generation. Diversifying the farm through livestock is a responsible way to meet that challenge head on. But overregulation—and obviously a moratorium on livestock barns—would hinder young men and women like me from continuing the family farm.”

She noted that crop and livestock farming results in a “safe, sustainable system” which uses Iowa crops to feed livestock. Livestock then return the nutrients back to the land via manure. “It’s a continuous cycle of growth and regeneration,” Allison said.Story County Supervisor Rick Sanders proposed a resolution which urged the Iowa legislature to take a look at the Master Matrix system, used in the permitting of CAFOs, but his resolution did not include language about imposing a moratorium.

Ultimately, though, Supervisor chair Lauris Olson sided with Supervisor Linda Murken in the adoption of the resolution which contains support for a moratorium. Supervisor Sanders voted against it.

“There have been multiple cries and multiple approaches down in Des Moines to please open this matrix, take a look at what’s happened, take a look at some of the laws,” Olson said. “Until we really get honest in asking the legislature to open it up and take a look at what our facts, their facts, everybody else’s facts on both sides we’re just going to keep spinning our wheels. For that reason, I am going to support the moratorium.”

She noted that the moratorium is a “temporary pause” on the addition and expansion of CAFOs in the county, not a permanent ban.

Casey Allison outlined her concerns of a resolution that supports the moratorium on new and expanding animal feeding operations. (Photo: Joseph L. Murphy/Iowa Soybean Association)

Brian Waddingham, executive director of the Coalition to Support Iowa’s Farmers said the board’s decision doesn’t change the work the Coalition does in helping Iowa livestock farmers grow or expand their livestock farms responsibly.

The Iowa Soybean Association is one of nine state organizations which supports the work of the Coalition.

“Overall, this decision doesn’t really change anything as far as the work that the Coalition does in working with livestock farmers to find the best site for a livestock barn. We continue to work with farmers to take a look at the rules and regulations which apply to livestock farming, while keeping in mind the potential impact on neighbors,” he said.

Tim Couser, an ISA member and livestock and grain farmer near Nevada, said the differing points presented at the meeting are indicative of the current environment regarding animal agriculture.

“It’s very obvious that people are moving closer to livestock facilities. We’ve seen new houses come close to our feedlot within the past year. So, people are willing to move close to livestock facilities, but what they absolutely do not want is a new livestock facility built close to them,” he said.

Waddingham said the Coalition staff continues to encourage farmers to talk to their neighbors about their visions for growth on their farm. He believes communication between farmers and their neighbors can help both sides understand each other.

“What I have in my mind about modern livestock production may not be what the neighbor has in mind,” Waddingham said. “So, both sides benefit from taking a step back and working to see the other’s point of view.”

The meeting showed varying opinions about animal agriculture, but Couser said it demonstrates the changing population in the county.

“I don’t think anybody is truly against agriculture, they just have varying opinions on what is acceptable, what is right,” Couser said. “As we become a more metropolitan county, I would say those concerns are growing because agriculture feels a little closer than it has in the past. So, this is not a new concept or new topic.”


Contact Bethany Baratta at

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