Letters to the Pilot

Thursday, September 12, 2002

Hog-tied by the 'Matrix'


The August 27 editorial "Hog-tied over the 'matrix"' is right on target. The editorial explains, "in a half-hearted effort to appease frustrated rural Iowans, lawmakers came up with the cockamamie concept of a complicated rating system, called a 'matrix."' This is exactly the case.

In this year's watered down factory farm legislation, the Iowa Legislature created a factory farm "matrix..." This matrix gives off the illusion of local control because the DNR still has the final say. The matrix is intended to be a substitute for true local control but actually provides the county very little to stop factory farm construction.

The matrix should not be designed to ensure that a factory farm can be built no matter what. It should be designed to protect the health and well being of the county residents; promote economic development; protect tourism, historic sites and recreational sites and other local businesses; protect natural resources and environmentally sensitive areas and to lessen congestion and overcrowding of these giant confinement units...

The criteria must be set stringent enough to protect counties and their residents rather than allow any factory farm to be built no matter what...

The bottom line is that counties need local control, not some ill-planned, complicated "matrix" system that would rubber stamp all factory farm permits. The legislature needs to sack the matrix and give counties the power to stop the spread of factory farms.

Mark McDowell,