The Iowa Pork Producers Association expressed concern with a report released Wednesday, by the Washington D.C.-based Environmental Integrity Project.

The report is titled, “Threatening Iowa’s Future,” accuses the state of bypassing the federal Clean Water Act. It was released with the help of the Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, a citizen’s activist group known to oppose modern pork production.

It contends that hundreds of livestock operations should have federal permits, but don't. That has contributed to the deaths of millions of fish, the group says.

The report claims the state's own figures show that 3,500 of Iowa's livestock feedlots are required to obtain federal sewage permits, but the state has issued only 42. The group says the state hadn't issued a permit to any of the 1,800 confinements that need them.

Those statistics are way off, according to Iowa Department of Natural Resources director Jeff Vonk and representatives of livestock groups said.

Vonk says of the 3,500 operations large enough to fall under state regulations, about 1,600 will need federal permits. Of the 1,576 feedlots that registered in a special program launched by DNR and the Iowa Cattlemen's Association to encourage compliance, 172 will need permits. They should have them within two years, in time to meet EPA's deadline, adds Vonk.

Agreeing is Eldon McAfee, attorney for the Iowa Pork Producers Association. “The report failed to point out that Iowa environmental regulations don’t currently require a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit because state law prohibits a discharge from a confinement feeding operation, EPA has agreed with this stringent approach,” he notes. “The report also failed to recognize that Iowa livestock producers submit in annual manure management plan updates each year.”

Secondly, McAfee says the report exaggerated the number of fish kills caused by confinement feeding operations. “The DNR has reported that 99 fish kills have occurred since 1996. Of those, 14 were from swine CFO’s, with data indicating a strong downward trend,” continues McAfee. “Two of the top 10 largest fish kills were swine-related, with chemical spills accounting for five out of the 10 largest fish kills.”

“The changing nature of livestock regulation in Iowa has led to increased frustration among Iowa producers,” continues McAfee. Since 1995, Iowa has had six law changes, 20 administrative rule changes, with two rules pending. “If anything, typical producers are having a hard time keeping up with rapidly changing environmental regulations.”

Iowa Pork Producers Association, DM Register