Worth County's effort to set local public health standards governing livestock confinement operations was struck down by the Iowa Supreme Court.

The Court ruled, “the Worth County ordinance is the type of ordinance expressly preempted by the state statute.  Our legislature intended livestock production in Iowa to be governed by statewide regulation.”

In the Supreme Court's opinion, Justice Mark Cady wrote that state law prohibits counties from regulating livestock operations. Worth County officials argued that the rules were aimed at regulating public health, not farming, but the Supreme Court rejected that contention.

The ruling was a victory for the livestock industry and other commodity groups who fought the ordinance. Those groups contend that Worth County regulations would open the door to different rules governing confinement-feeding operations in 99 counties.

“It is important to note that there is extensive regulation of livestock production by the state, including recently adopted air quality standards and phosphorus index standards for manure management plans,” says Eldon McAfee, legal counsel for the Iowa Pork Producers Association.

“Our state legislature has stepped forward and signed off on four rounds of new livestock regulations within the past eight years,” notes Sam Carney, IPPA president.

These regulations include: increased separation distances; air quality standards; require additional permits for the application of manure; require the completion of comprehensive manure management plans, including the Phosphorus Index; and give counties greater input into where livestock operations can be sited via a master matrix. 

Iowa Pork Producers Association; The Waterloo Courier