Senate energy legislation may be a boon to corn producers. The measure contains a federal commitment to triple the production of ethanol, and would phase out the use of MTBE, the gas additive blamed for fouling waterways in many states. MTBE has also been a leading competitor to ethanol as an additive to make gasoline burn cleaner. If the measure is approved it could provide an important market opportunity for corn producers. That could be coming at a good time, because another sector of the farm economy with a large appetite for grain, is being pressured to curb if not terminate operations. The trend is especially apparent in Iowa a leading grain and livestock producer. At issue is the conduct of CAFOs or confined animal feeding operations. With more frequency communities are resisting the construction of the large-scale livestock operations.
Last week Supervisors in Iowa's Cerro Gordo County passed a resolution opposed to Minnesota-based Sparboe Farms' construction of a large-scale egg operation. The proposed 2.4 million-bird operation has been greeted with stiff resistance from nearby cities. The supervisors with considerable public support also voted to place a one-year moratorium, on the construction of any new livestock confinement operation. This week Sparboe announced it had dropped plans to build. Sparboe's President says company officials now realize they should have involved local residents in the discussion to locate in the area. This week supervisors in neighboring Franklin County voted to block further construction of livestock farms. The supervisors say they need the time to craft ordinances that protect residents' health from the effects of large confinement facilities. Meanwhile in the Iowa Legislature 12 lawmakers have been appointed to a special panel to draft legislation to protect neighbors and the environment from the impact of a large-scale livestock operation. The measure is reported to include granting counties more authority over the siting of such operations. Currently a controversial 1998 law dedicates that authority to the state, excluding local governments from siting decisions.