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Critics: Hoglot Inspections Fall Short

Photo by Joyce Russell

Controversial new rules for  large animal confinement operations got another airing  at the statehouse Tuesday.   

During a meeting of the legislature's rules review committee, there was bitter opposition from members of Citizens for Community Improvement. 

Under an agreement with the federal Environmental Protection Agency, many Iowa farms will be monitored for compliance with clean water standards without an on-site inspection.  

Cherie Mortice with CCI doesn't think that's enough. She says while 55 manure spills occurred in the past year, only 11 operators have been fined.

"Because the DNR is satisfied with desktop inspections for the majority of operations, as opposed to onsite inspections, compliance is generally voluntary," says Mortice. 

Department of Natural Resources attorney Randy Clark says inspectors are sent out if aerial surveys reveal problems.

"To clarify," Clark says, "some of those inspections are desktop inspections. But it's not just producers filling out a form."

Critics of the DNR say the agency is falling behind on the onsite visits. Clark says they'll catch up before the 5-year deadline for inspecting some 8,000 farms.

Activists say they want to be able to monitor the inspection data, which the DNR says is already available online.

Officials say Iowa law does not allow the state to enact tougher water standards than the federal government.