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Environmental Group and Livestock Producers Unite

by 5m Editor
27 June 2008, at 10:28am

IOWA - An Iowa Great Lakes environmental group and some of the major livestock producers have reached an agreement to help preserve the ecological uniqueness of the glacial lakes area.

Bill Van Orsdel, founder and chairman of the Iowa Great Lakes Association (IGLA) explained the agreement at a press conference Wednesday in the Hedberg Theater of the Maritime Museum in Arnolds Park.

"I am proud to announce the nearly 1,000 members of the IGLA and some of the most successful livestock producers in the country have come together after two years of work and countless meetings to achieve an important treaty," Van Orsdel said. "The unprecedented agreement was reached by a working group including some of the largest and most respected pork producers in the state including Christensen Farms, Schwartz Farms, Lynch Livestock and New Fashion Pork, among others. In total, the participants ... represent more than half of the pork breeding herd in the United States."

According to Van Orsdel, the agreement is to establish a conservation buffer around the main lakes in Dickinson County, protecting waters from large livestock farms, reports Sioux City Journal.

"The private agreement terms include the establishment of a four-mile eco-tourism buffer around the main bodies of water in the Iowa Great Lakes region," he said.

The agreement calls for no new growth of livestock farms and no growth of existing livestock farms, plus no new acres added to manure plans in the buffer.

Although voluntary in nature and not legally binding, the pact is seen as a step forward in bringing together livestock producers and conservationists on an issue that has been controversial.

Iowa state Rep. Mike May, whose district includes Dickinson and Clay counties, said the agreement will likely make it easier to pass legislation that protects both agricultural interests and sensitive environmental areas in other parts of the state as well.

"We've been unsuccessful over the last three years in garnering new legislation to address these issues," May said. "But this agreement between a prominent lakes group and some of the heavy hitters in the livestock production industry is a great beginning."

Proposed large-scale hog production facilities southwest of Milford and in northwestern Dickinson County in the Little Sioux River valley brought debate in recent years and were abandoned after environmental groups and others protested.

And what if another livestock producer not involved in the new agreement has plans for a facility in Dickinson County? Brian Foster, founder of Insight Enterprise Consulting who helped craft the agreement, said a good-neighbor policy would prevail.

View the Sioux City Journal story by clicking here.

5m Editor