Coalition to Sue Iowa Hog Operation for Multiple Manure Spills
PHOTO: In the past six years, there have been at least five manure spills from the Van Buren County hog operation of The Maschhoffs, LLC, and the latest is prompting a lawsuit. Photo credit: Green Fire Productions
November 22, 2013
DES MOINES, Iowa – After another manure spill from one of the state's largest hog operations, a coalition of community, environmental and animal welfare organizations says enough is enough.
David Goodner, farm and environment organizer with the Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (CCI), says his organization is among the groups planning to sue The Maschhoffs, one of the largest family-owned pork farming networks in the country.
The groups accuse The Maschhoffs of violating the federal Clean Water Act.
Goodner says the latest spill happened earlier this month and reached a tributary of the Des Moines River.
"It was their fifth manure spill since 2007,” Goodner says. “And so, this lawsuit is part of a larger strategy by Iowa CCI members and our allies to hold Maschhoff accountable for the repeated Clean Water Act violations and to see them be issued a Clean Water Act permit that would force them to play by stronger rules, or get shut down."
The Maschhoffs say the pending suit is without merit and that the company has an excellent track record of swift action to protect the local environment.
Based in Illinois, the Maschhoffs' Keosauqua sow facility in Van Buren County is a nearly 7,500-head operation that Goodner says produces more than 11 million gallons of manure annually.
While the lawsuit will be focused on The Maschhoffs' facility, Goodner is hopeful the outcome will set a precedent statewide.
"There's no question it's a huge problem,” he stresses. “Iowa has 630 polluted waterways. The number goes up every year.
“There've been multiple manure spills just in the last few months across Iowa, as the industry hurries to empty their pits now that the corn and beans are coming out of the fields. And it's something that we can't tolerate anymore, and we're going to take action."
Iowa recently entered into an agreement with the Environmental Protection Agency to improve the DNR's regulation of the roughly 8,500 factory farms, but the state has not yet issued the rules.