Iowa board rejects call for stricter feedlot rules in sensitive areas

Facing opposition from Iowa farm groups, state officials rejected Tuesday efforts to restrict where livestock producers can build large animal feeding operations in environmentally sensitive areas.

The Iowa Environmental Council and Environmental Law & Policy Center filed a last fall petition, seeking to strengthen rules about where livestock producers could build large feeding operations in parts of the state with porous karst topography.

Environmental groups have pushed the state to stop operation of Supreme Beef, a large cattle feedlot in north Iowa, saying it threatens nearby Bloody Run Creek, a cold-water trout stream that’s among 34 waterways and lakes designated as Outstanding Iowa Waters.

In northeastern Iowa’s karst region, the soil is underlain with fractured limestone through which water can easily move manure, bacteria and other contaminants into surface water and aquifers.

Even though the state has laws designed to protect karst terrain, groundwater and drinking water sources, they have been ineffective at protecting water quality, the groups said.

The environmental groups asked the Iowa Environmental Protection Commission Tuesday to increase the required distance between manure containment structures and karst terrain. Among other measures, they asked the commission to require groundwater monitoring for animal feeding operations with earthen pits rather than concrete structures.

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