Dickinson County’s board of supervisors to know how other county supervisors feel about state rules governing livestock operations.
County supervisors have asked the Iowa Department of Natural Resources for a moratorium on building any new livestock facilities in the area.
Dickinson County is home to some of the wealthiest homeowners in the Midwest, who have built multimillion dollar houses on East and West Okoboji and Spirit lakes.
Local leaders say they’re concerned about the facilities environmental impact on the area’s lakes, a major tourist attraction and workforce and business recruitment tool.
Supervisor Paul Johnson said they’ve yet to hear from the state on the requested moratorium. But in the meantime, he and other supervisors hope to learn if there’s support for greater local control over construction of cattle, pig and other livestock operations.
Some supervisors are frustrated they’re unable to prevent large livestock operations from locating in their counties. Facility owners who meet state requirements guiding construction and management often can build livestock barns, even if county leaders and local residents oppose them.
“Maybe we’re the only ones who feel this strongly about repairing the master matrix,” Johnson said. the master matrix is a scoring system used to evaluate the siting confinement operations.
Farm groups say the matrix is fair and provides protections for homeowners, businesses and others that would be located near a proposed facility. The matrix sets minimum distances from places like homes, water sources and recreational areas. It also sets limits on how much manure from the facilities can be applied to farmland.
Johnson said he’s not sure what the board will do with the results, other than share them with the media and other interested groups. “It will be interesting to see what the results show,” he said. “Many counties rely on CAFOs (concentrated animal feeding operation) as their economic base. They could be opposed to making changes.”