Rod Sullivan, Supervisor, Johnson County, Iowa

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June 13, 2014

Sullivan’s Salvos     6/17/14

In this edition:

*Pride Events
*North Liberty Summer Lunch
*Sycamore Street Farmer’s Market
*Thank You Dan!
*Did You Know?

The Johnson County Board of Supervisors has a pending application for a large confined animal feeding operation (CAFO). It would be off Oasis Road, just north and east of American Legion Road. It is about 3 miles from both IC and West Branch. It would be a hog confinement, and my understanding is it would house over 2,500 hogs. The applicant is a gentleman named Ray Slach. I do not know Mr. Slach, but I have heard good things about him personally. I have also heard that his record of manure management leaves a lot to be desired.

The public has many apprehensions over CAFOs. I’ll try to address some key concerns:

Water quality: 2,500 hogs is a large number of animals. Hogs produce about six times as much waste as humans; that means this facility will be responsible for about the same amount of waste as the City of North Liberty. Handling that volume of waste would be a challenge under any circumstances. That said, I know an irresponsible operator can do more environmental damage with far fewer hogs. But even if the lagoons are properly contained, there can be issues. With all the tile in our fields, it is conceivable that large scale manure application to fields can end up in our drinking water.

Air quality: I drove out to the site, and it is pretty remote, as much as anything in Johnson County can be remote. There aren’t many houses nearby. I have been reviewing the research on odors, and it is all over the board. Obviously, management, climate, terrain, and average winds all make a big difference. Clemson University says the odor from a CAFO should almost never exceed one mile. The University of Minnesota says human health can be negatively impacted up to ten miles away. Iowa State researchers have conflicting data within a single university. Clearly more study will be forthcoming. Meanwhile, if you ask folks who live near them, no study is necessary!

Animal welfare: It is difficult to imagine that hogs enjoy being confined. There isn’t much room to move; rooting cannot happen; social interactions are altered dramatically; antibiotics tend to be overused to compensate for crowded conditions. On the other hand, farmers realize that animals under stress do not put on weight as easily as animals that seem content. The pork industry and animal welfare groups have wildly different ideas regarding what constitutes humane treatment; again, research lags.

I have been on the Board ten years, and this is the first CAFO application we have had that is large enough to trigger the Master Matrix process. That is a process that allows local governments to comment (but only to comment) on the process.

So the bottom line is: local governments are "allowed" to weigh in on these applications, but the State doesn't really care what the local governments have to say. But we ARE holding a public hearing on Thursday, June 19 at 9am in the Boardroom. The public may also submit written comments.

         If you care about this issue – please let us know!

*Pride Events
         This weekend Johnson County is full of wonderful Pride events! I’ll call your attention to but two:

         The annual Pride Parade begins at noon on Saturday, June 21st. Lineup is at 11 am at College Green Park. That will be followed by Pride Fest events on the Ped Mall in downtown Iowa City.

         Please come out (no pun intended!) and support the LGBTQ population in Johnson County. They are our family, friends, and neighbors, and they deserve our love and support! And the events are fun to boot!

         For more info about all the many Pride events, please visit:

*North Liberty Summer Lunch
The North Liberty Summer Lunch & Fun Program is an all-volunteer effort to provide free lunch and activities for all North Liberty kids weekdays throughout the summer of 2014.

Youth up to age 18 are welcome to join us 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays June 9 through August 18 on the library patio outside the North Liberty Community Center, 520 W. Cherry Street in North Liberty. No registration is required to participate.

How can you help? Volunteer–We’ll need five people each day to help prepare and serve the food, organize activities, and clean up–an approximate 2 1/2-hour time commitment. Sign up for one shift or several! Donate–We need gifts of money and food to make the program work. Spread the word–Follow us on Facebook and share a link to our page on your own page. Tell your friends what’s happening!

As of June 7th: Only 20 volunteer slots of 400 remain open. The program has raised over $5K. 500 single day pool passes will be provided to the kids. Red’s Alehouse is doing every Thursday lunch.

This program is sponsored by the North Liberty Unity Coalition, a group of residents and representatives of the city, area churches, schools, and human service agencies interested in improving the quality of life for all North Liberty residents. You can connect with the coalition on its Facebook page.

         Congrats to everyone in North Liberty who made this happen!

*Sycamore Street Farmers Market
I’d like to urge everyone to visit the Sycamore Street Farmers Market. They're off to a modest start, hindered by a migrating location, a late spring, and road construction projects.

You'll find them from 3-6pm every Tuesday through October, back again at the west end of the Sycamore Mall (being re-branded as the Iowa City Marketplace).

Sellers are bringing their fresh vegetables, baked goods, crafts, and hot foods ready to eat. More will be coming as crops mature. Spots for venders are still available at only $15.

What you buy can be good for you, local growers and artisans, and the southeast side of Iowa City. More details are at

*Thank You Dan!
         The Little Free Library at the Johnson County Health and Human Services Building is heavily used. Because of the location, it is a hotbed for children’s books. It is difficult to keep the library stocked.

         I mentioned this to my friend and neighbor Dan Daly, and viola! I am presented with a big box of children’s books. I was able to completely fill the Little Free Library.

         Thank you, Dan! And readers, if you have unwanted children’s books, please feel free to bring them by the Health and Human Services Building!

*DID YOU KNOW?  State officials reported that 137 construction permits were issued for new livestock operations through August 2013, a 59 percent increase over 2012, which was a record. For the third straight year, Iowa has issued a record number of permits for new livestock operations. Most of them were for confinements to house more than 2,500 hogs.

Anyone interested in learning more about County government should take a look at the County website-

"Sullivan’s Salvos" is sent once per week to any interested party. It will give a brief update on issues of interest to Johnson County residents.

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As always, feel free to contact me at 354-7199 or I look forward to serving you!



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