ActivistCash Update: Iowa Activists Run Amok, Stampede Farms

The newest addition to our award-winning ActivistCash website is an in-depth profile of the self-proclaimed “family” farm activist group Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (ICCI). Celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, ICCI has made a lot of hay demonizing farmers who use modern agriculture to produce the food we eat, even stooping so low as to call those farmers child abusers and serfs. For ICCI, sadly, “community improvement” means attacking your competitors.

Here are a few selections from our new profile:
In a Des Moines Register interview, ICCI executive director Hugh Espey admitted that he has never set foot in a large-scale livestock confinement, the kind of facility his organization decries on a daily basis. For a group that claims to combat threats that supposedly lurk next door, it is unusual that its most vocal agitator has never witnessed the “problem” firsthand.ICCI consistently clamors for “local control” of agriculture, which typically translates to the suppression of out-of-state investment in Iowa farms. The irony of ICCI’s “local control” proposals is that it receives the bulk of its money from large, out-of-state foundations. The giant philanthropies that bankroll ICCI (none native to Iowa) trace their considerable assets back to giant corporations. The Ford Foundation, the General Motors-powered Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, and the Standard Oil-fueled Belvedere Fund (a subsidiary of the Rockefeller Family Fund) all contribute substantially.A common ICCI tactic is to publish private citizens’ home phone numbers in newspaper scare ads. Recent examples involved one fourth-generation farmer who had two phone numbers and his home address published, and a third-generation farmer who suffered harassing phone calls. ICCI’s tactics succeeded in blocking the construction of the latter’s hog farm, even though it had passed the county standards that ICCI itself helped shepherd through the regulatory process.One Iowa Falls Times-Citizen columnist wrote in July 2000 about ICCI’s antagonistic tactics in protesting a state economic development administrator: “It gives the community another black eye to see the group basically accost a private citizen at his own home … Invading a state employee’s home on a Saturday afternoon was uncalled for.”

In case this gang of farm-belt activists seems like nothing more than a local pest, we invite you to look at our profiles of the Idaho Rural Council, or Dakota Rural Action, or the American Corn Growers Association. In case these groups seem unrelated, check out their financial backers on our website. And since their politicking can affect our food supply no matter where you are in America, it’s worth learning what those who work the land and bring home the bacon are up against.

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