Friday, August 25, 2006

Sustainable Agriculture in Iowa, and in Politics

“My husband Larry Harris and I have been organic farmers for over 30 years, and we have been advocates of sustainable agriculture since we started farming. When my daughter was born we established an informal co-op with local families and farms so we could get fresh, local and healthy food. Practicing sustainable agriculture protects our environment, and increases the revenue of local farms. Encouraging communities all over the state to practice sustainable agriculture would be an important goal in my administration. Sustainable agriculture enriches communities by building stronger ties between producers and consumers.”

Denise O'Brien, O'Brien for Secretary of Ag, Iowa

Des Moines I.A.-- Today Denise O’Brien, Democratic candidate for Secretary of Agriculture reaffirmed her support for local control of placements of animal confinements.

The local control issue has been a divisive issue for many Iowans as well as for elected officials. O’Brien believes that local control continues to be "the biggest difference between me and my opponent. My opponent thing thinks the state government should hold all the power- I think communities should most."

"This issue is about freedom. Counties deserve the freedom to make these decisions in the same way they do for every other industry," said O’Brien.

"People opposed to local control worry that Iowans are unable to make sound, reasonable decisions without being driven by emotions. I trust Iowans, and I think local decisions are better for the people who have to live with them."

O’Brien believes the legislature should set the basic minimum standards, but counties have the right to build upon these standards. O’Brien doesn’t believe the issue needs to be divisive and wants to bring people together to resolve the issue.

The recent rule giving the DNR discretion in the placement of animal confinements has added to the debate over local control. O’Brien views the recent rule change as, “an imperfect, but a necessary stop-gap to be used in the short term while the state transitions to local control.”

O’Brien believes that the resolution of the local control issue is “key to provide the freedom needed for safe and healthy, families, farms and Iowa.”