Students are invited to attend the Poweshiek Community Action to Restore Environmental Stewardship (CARES) annual meeting on March 10. The group plans to continue their advocacy against the Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations, or CAFOs, in Poweshiek County.
The meeting will be held at 7:30 p.m. at Drake Community Library and is open to the public.
“It is our annual meeting when we will review the past year and discuss the plans for this coming year,” wrote Poweshiek CARES County Vice President Laforest Sherman in an email to The S&B.
The annual meeting will include an election for a new board of directors and will kick off with a special keynote speaker.
“We have an outstanding speaker, Professor Emeritus John Ikerd, who will give a keynote address discussing the unsustainable nature of industrial agriculture and the damage that it is doing to the environment and to our communities,” Sherman wrote.
Ikerd’s presentation will be titled “Where is Industrial Ag Taking Us? And are We Willing to Go There?” In addition to being a professor emeritus of agricultural and applied economics at the University of Missouri, Ikerd has written several books on economics and sustainable agriculture.
Also, at the annual meeting, the organization will outline its yearly plan to continue work toward its central goals of protesting the construction of additional CAFOs in Poweshiek County and advocating for more sustainable agriculture.
“What we want is stricter regulations on CAFOS,” said Sue Kolbe, a board member of Poweshiek CARES. Kolbe also works as a biology technical assistant and CERA field lab assistant at Grinnell. “What we do is make people aware of the different things that are happening throughout the state.”
Sherman, chair of Poweshiek CARES’ Outreach and Education committee, works to raise awareness about the consequences of CAFOs throughout Poweshiek County. These consequences may include declining property values, a strong odor surrounding the CAFO, and diminishing air and water qualities.
One of the group’s aims is not only to raise awareness, but also to help the surrounding community when a new CAFO is under construction.
“[We are] a resource for people who have CAFOs coming in nearby who … need help with fighting a CAFO that might be coming in near their home,” Kolbe said.
On a broader scale, the organization’s Partnering committee joins with larger, similar organizations in Iowa to protest CAFOs and lobby the legislature for stricter regulations on the construction of CAFOs and more sustainable agriculture.
“We also are connected with Iowa Farmer’s Union,” Kolbe said. “They help us lobby also. Basically we lobby for sustainable agriculture and try to make people aware of sustainable agriculture.”
Locally, the group’s Partnering committee encourages student groups with similar goals to partner with CARES. All of the group’s various committees, however, are also open to students.
“Students are encouraged to participate in the organizational and committee activities of CARES, we can use all the help that we can get,” Sherman wrote.