CAFO’s often contain thousands of individual animals, generating thousands of gallons of liquid manure. This manure is often stored untreated in gigantic pits under each confinement—many with a capacity of 300,000-700,000 gallons – for six to twelve months at a time. When the pits reach their limited capacity, it’s standard practice for the pits to be pumped out and spread on farm fields for disposal. This is where the harmful CAFO wastes often enter surface water.
Of primary concern is a property tax loophole that exists within the Iowa Code ( Iowa Code Section 427.1, subsection 19, paragraph e ) that allows CAFOs to claim a property tax exemption for having a pollution control device, i.e. the manure pit.
The Pollution Control and Recycling tax exemption was designed to encourage facilities in Iowa to use measures to control pollution of our air and water. However, CAFOs are currently able to claim this exemption on the manure pits, even though these pits are later pumped out and the manure injected or sprayed onto the ground where it often directly enters the waterways and air.
It’s ironic that the state grants an exemption to factory farm confinement pits as a water pollution “protection device” as the putrefying manure in that pit generates toxic hydrogen sulfide and ammonia that pollute our air.
Why are we paying these operations for polluting our air and water? Recent estimates show that the Pollution Control and Recycling property tax exemption removed $154.2 million dollars from county tax assessment rolls in Iowa, equivalent to approximately $5 million in unrealized tax revenue. 
Changes to property taxation provisions of the Iowa Code are necessary to remove property used for maintaining animals in CAFOs from the definition of pollution-control property. During the last two legislative sessions, bills were introduced that would accomplish this and they will likely be introduced again. Such bills would establish that property used for maintaining animals as part of a confined animal feeding operation are not included in the definition of pollution-control property.
Please contact your Legislator [Find Your Legislator] and tell them to reintroduce and support bills that would eliminate the pit tax exemption. Let them know you are tired of CAFOs polluting your water and ruining your quality of life, and that you do not believe they should be getting paid for doing this.
It’s time for these operations to stop taking advantage of the taxpayers.