'Bad advice bill' seen as a boon to factory farms, burden for state

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Iowa lawmakers this week will take up a proposed bill that would protect factory farms from enforcement action if they can prove they relied on bad advice from state environmental experts.

A public hearing was planned last night on the bill.

It would prohibit the Iowa Department of Natural Resources or the Iowa attorney general's office from taking action against farmers or other Iowans who relied on incorrect DNR staff explanations in order to comply with state environmental regulations.

Critics of the bill say it would use taxpayer money to provide free legal advice to factory farms and other polluters.

Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement said it would drain the DNR's limited resources by encouraging farmers to use the agency for advice in an attempt to avoid future enforcement action.

"This is just more legislation to give factory farms preferential treatment," CCI member Bob Uetz, of Boone, said in a statement. "The Legislature needs to stop passing bills pushed by the factory farm lobby and start supporting local control and other positive legislation that support family farmers and rural residents."

To get immunity from enforcement under the bill, a citizen would have to prove that they sought advice from the DNR.

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