A group opposing the spread of factory farms lobbied lawmakers Tuesday to place a moratorium on large livestock confinement operations and develop stricter air and water standards.
Iowa Citizens For Community Improvement, a nonpartisan, grassroots organization with about 3,100 members, sponsored the Statehouse rally.
George Naylor, who farms near Churdan, said county officials should be given control over where large livestock farms can locate.
"We're demanding local control to make sure these big polluters, these big livestock factories, are prevented from polluting our water," said Naylor, who is president of the National Family Farm Coalition.
Current Iowa law gives the Iowa Department of Natural Resources final approval of a proposed livestock operation's permit.
Barb Kulbach, a fourth generation farmer in Adair County, said small rural communities are withering away because family farms that supported their local businesses have been replaced by corporate farms.
Small-scale farmers have few outlets remaining for the small number of animals they need to sell, said Kulbach, who once raised livestock but now grows only corn and soybeans on her farm.
"There are only a few sale barns, fewer outlets and competitive markets, so the smaller producer can't compete," she said. "When that happens all the little businesses in communities that farmers used to do business with no longer have customers and they go out of business."
She said livestock farming needs to be regulated or consolidation will continue until only a few large corporations control food production, which she said would be bad for the environment and consumers.