Group opposed to large livestock operations seeks demotion of legislator
Tuesday, February 24, 2009, 8:40 PM
By O.Kay Henderson
A group that's opposed to large-scale hog confinements has filed an ethics complaint against the woman who leads the Agriculture Committee in the Iowa House. The group "Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement" accuses Representative Dolores Mertz, a Democrat from Ottosen, of having a conflict of interest because her sons operate a 4000 head hog operation in Kossuth County.
Barb Kalbach, the group's president, says Mertz should not be House Ag Committee chairwoman. "Her record shows her bias towards the factory farm industry and that's supported by her family ties and her financial ties," Kalbach says. "I mean she seriously should not be in a place where bills can be immediately killed and not at least debated before the committee."
The Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (ICCI) is an interesting group that everyone should be aware of. While they try giving the appearance that they support agriculture, they do not. Hugh Espy, their executive director, was asked by the Des Moines Register if he had ever even been inside one of the hog barns, that he is so adamantly against, to see how they function. His answer was no, but he said he had driven by them before. And when Robert F. Kennedy Jr. made his now infamous comparison between hog farmers and Osama Bin Laden, ICCI Board Member Garry Klicker said he was happy to support that statement and it was exactly on target. This is a group that is trying to regulate livestock out of Iowa.