Letter to the Editor: Support for Johnson County farmers remains vital

There’s many bureaucratic decisions to consider, but local leaders must continue supporting its agricultural industry.


Ryan Adams

Corn stalks line the rows of a field near Ainsworth, Iowa, on Oct. 11. The field is owned by Farmer Mitchell Hora, who uses cover crop and no-till practices.

More than a year ago the Johnson County Board of Supervisors directed the County’s Planning Development and Sustainability Division to update the county’s Unified Development Ordinance.

With input from individual supervisors, Planning Development and Sustainability staff developed and recommended many changes to the ordinance.

Planning Development and Sustainability staff worked with the Johnson County Planning and Zoning Commission and a volunteer group of citizens to review and discuss each recommended change. This has been a tedious process and not all issues have been mutually agreed upon.

The proposed ordinance has been reviewed by the Planning and Zoning Commission who then held public input sessions which were well attended. The Planning and Zoning Commission has made recommended changes to the proposed ordinance and forwarded these to the supervisors.

The supervisors will hold a public hearing on the ordinance on Dec. 5. They can include the Planning and Zoning Commission recommendations or make their own changes.

As with many county residents and farmers, I am concerned with the agriculture-related portions of the ordinance. I encourage the supervisors to accept and include the recommendations made by the Planning and Zoning Commission.

Recent statistics reveal that the number of farmers has significantly decreased in Iowa. It’s get big or get out.

Do not make it more difficult for small family farms and young beginning farmers to survive. The small farmers help to hold down local food costs and do all that they can to contribute in providing for our food-insecure residents.

Restricting the number of livestock that a small farmer can have on an acre of ground or making a farmer or retired farm family prove that they are a profitable farmer serves no purpose. Many retired farmers only have the farm rent income and sometimes Social Security to support them. As written, the ordinance would not consider these individuals as active farmers.

Such regulations always result in unintended consequences. Farm operations are presently adequately regulated under Iowa code.

— Pat Harney, Johnson County resident