Tuesday, March 12, 2002

Clay County is the latest to begin discussions of placing a moratorium on new large confined animal feeding operations.

"We're alarmed at the number of calls we're getting," Supervisor Del Brockshus said.

Clay County plans to turn the matter over to its public health board to determine if a moratorium stopping any new confinements is appropriate.

Buena Vista County was in the vanguard of those exploring such a possibility a few years ago, but when Humboldt County wound up in court over the issue, the message was plain that local control was not an option.

People have grown weary of waiting for real answers from the state, and have come to realize that the DNR simply does not have the manpower to regulate huge lots, their manure and the impact on the air, ground water and quality of life.

The trend for counties to declare moratoriums may pick up even more steam now that Sparboe Farms has bent to local opinion and decided to drop plans for a 2.5 million hen egg facility near Ventura, deciding that it is apparently easier to look elsewhere than to overcome the Iowa debate.

The argument has always been that with local control, there could be 99 sets of different regulations.

There is a reason taxpayers pay for 99 different local governments, 99 different boards of supervisors, and 99 board of health. The people want a local say.

Not every city and county in Iowa think the same, and why should they?

We think it would be foolish to pave the way for huge corporate confinement operations or more slaughterhouses in the immediate vicinity of northwest Iowa's lovely lakes resources, for example.

In other areas, these projects may be quite desirable developments, and soil types and water table level may better suit it. The communities themselves are in the best position to decide the tax base and job benefit vs. the risks.

We support Clay County and others who are seeking to recapture a reasonable element of local control, while they still can.