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Environmental groups seek hog farm permit freeze at rally

January 23, 2020 GMT
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Mark Edwards, of Boone, Iowa, attends a rally wearing a pig head mask at the Iowa Capitol in Des Moines, Iowa, Thursday Jan. 23, 2020. Environmental groups and community activists called on lawmakers to consider a bill that would halt the growth of hog farms in Iowa. (AP Photo/David Pitt)
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Mark Edwards, of Boone, Iowa, attends a rally wearing a pig head mask at the Iowa Capitol in Des Moines, Iowa, Thursday Jan. 23, 2020. Environmental groups and community activists called on lawmakers to consider a bill that would halt the growth of hog farms in Iowa. (AP Photo/David Pitt)

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Environmental groups and community activists rallied Thursday at the Iowa Capitol to push lawmakers to consider halting the growth of hog farms in the state.

Activists at the rally called on lawmakers to consider a House bill introduced last year that would impose a moratorium on hog farm permits. Republican committee leaders blocked the Democrat-sponsored bill by declining to assign it to a subcommittee.

Officials in about a fourth of Iowa counties have passed resolutions asking lawmakers to impose a moratorium.

Iowa had nearly 25 million pigs on farms as of last month, a record December inventory. The state also has seen an increasing number of rivers, lakes and streams impaired by pollutants.

Gov. Kim Reynolds is proposing a 1-cent sales tax increase to generate $100 million annually for water quality.

Two groups sponsoring the event, Food and Water Watch and Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, have sued the state, claiming it has violated its obligation to protect the Raccoon River for the benefit of all Iowans by failing to limit the pollution running off large animal farms. The case is on appeal to the Iowa Supreme Court.