Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack on Monday signed into law sweeping new livestock regulations, calling it a step toward healing in rural Iowa, but two of the state's largest producer groups were missing from the ceremony.

Vilsack was flanked by Republican and Democratic lawmakers, environmental groups and the Iowa Farmers Union, which represents just under 1,000 family farmers, as he signed Senate File 2293 into law. But members of the Iowa Farm Bureau and Iowa Pork Producers Association were absent.

"We have often talked about the fact that we're one Iowa, but clearly in rural Iowa today, there is a division over this issue," says Vilsack. "My hope is that with the signing of this bill, that we will begin the healing process."

The bill was considered the hallmark of the 2002 legislative session. It paves the way for air-quality standards, a new fee on confinement owners to help pay for state environmental inspections and limits on the phosphorus in manure applications, which feeds algae blooms in lakes.

It also calls for county and state officials to use a scoring system, taking into account environmental and community factors, to evaluate proposed livestock confinement sites. The state Department of Natural Resources would ultimately decide whether to approve a site.

Des Moines Register