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For immediate release -- Monday, December 18, 2006.
Contact Bob Brammer -- 515-281-6699

Sioux County Cattle Operation Pays $40,000 Penalty
for Water Pollution Violations

Judge orders penalty for pollution and manure-handling violations at 12,000-head operation near Sioux Center. A.G. also announces lawsuits alleging violations at feeding operations in Howard and Pocahontas counties.

Des Moines.   Farmers Cooperative Society has been ordered to pay a $40,000 civil penalty, resolving a state lawsuit that alleged water pollution and manure handling violations at Farmers Cooperative Society’s 12,000-head cattle feeding operation west of Sioux Center.

Attorney General Tom Miller said that Farmers Cooperative Society agreed to the penalty that was assessed by Judge James D. Scott in a “Consent Order, Judgment and Decree” entered Dec. 11 in Sioux County District Court. The order also prohibited Farmers Cooperative Society from further violations.

The State’s lawsuit alleged that Farmers Cooperative Society illegally released manure which discharged into an unnamed tributary of Six Mile Creek on September 22, 2005, and March 31, 2006, causing water quality standards violations. Farmers Cooperative also failed to provide notice to the Dept. of Natural Resources of the September 22 manure release. Another manure release occurred on January 26, 2006, but the manure did not reach a stream. On February 3, 2006, Farmers Cooperative also applied manure within 200 feet of Mile Creek without injecting or incorporating the manure, the suit said.

The Farmers Cooperative Society cattle-feeding facility has about 10,000 head housed in four confinement buildings, and about 2,000 head in open lots between the buildings. In 1998, Farmers Cooperative Society paid an administrative penalty of $2,000 and $1,398.32 in restitution for a fish kill that resulted from a release of manure from the facility and pollution of over 16 miles of Six Mile Creek.

Lawsuits filed in Howard County and Pocahontas County:

Howard County:

The Attorney General also filed a lawsuit last week against Kenneth Moellers for water pollution and manure handling violations at two swine and cattle open feedlot operations. Several open lots on the two sites, which are located just southeast of Cresco, are for totals of approximately 500 finishing hogs, 1600 sows, and 240 cows.

The suit alleges that Moellers illegally released manure from the operation at 24345-110th St. into an unnamed tributary and Chialk Creek on or about August 11 and Sept. 26, 2005. Chialk Creek is designated as a high-quality water resource and since 1979 has been a naturally-producing brown trout stream. The suit also alleges that Moellers illegally released manure from the nearby operation at 11687 Yankee Avenue on August 10, 2005, into an unnamed tributary of the Turkey River, causing water quality standards violations. The suit alleges that Moellers failed to notify the DNR of the manure releases. The lawsuit, which was filed Dec. 11 at Howard County District Court, seeks penalties and a Court order prohibiting further violations.

Pocahontas County:

The Attorney General’s Office also filed a lawsuit last week against Dean Pedersen for failure to file an updated manure management plan for his swine confinement feeding operation, and for land-applying manure without an approved manure management plan. Pedersen owns and operates a confinement feeding operation for approximately 504 swine in Cummins Township in Pocahontas County. The lawsuit, which was filed Dec. 11 in Pocahontas County District Court, seeks penalties and a Court order prohibiting further violations.

“Manure management plans are required in order to show that operations have adequate land for application of manure produced by the animals,” Miller said. “The plans are an important tool to protect the environment -- and the great majority of operations comply with the rules.”

Similar actions to enforce manure management plan requirements have been filed by the Attorney General.

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On the Web: www.IowaAttorneyGeneral.org.