As Iowa officials near an agreement with federal authorities who are seeking tougher inspections of the state's livestock operations to prevent water pollution, activists are protesting a proposal they argue would make it easier for some farmers to avoid oversight.
Legislation proposed in the House and Senate would allow livestock producers to close down barns and be reclassified as small operations. Then they no would longer need to file plans for manure disposal with the state.
Members of Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement argue farmers will store manure in those idled barns, which could lead to water-polluting spills.
Democratic Sen. Joe Seng of Davenport says the measure is geared at farmers who want to temporarily idle part of their operation, perhaps because a child is going to college.