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November 18, 2022

Taylor County man pays $23,000 for manure, water pollution violations   

Lawsuit alleged manure from hog operations in Taylor and Ringgold counties polluted nearby waterway 

DES MOINES – A Taylor County man has agreed to pay $23,000 in penalties and build a manure structure, through a settlement with Attorney General Tom Miller.  The state had alleged that Steven Kerns committed a series of water pollution, manure management and composting violations at two hog feeding operations in Taylor and Ringgold counties.    

Kerns, who owns and operates a confinement feeding operation in Taylor County and a joint confinement feeding operation and open feedlot operation in Ringgold County, settled the case through a consent decree approved Oct. 31 by District Court Judge Patrick Greenwood.   

The consent decree resolves an October 2019 environmental referral from Iowa’s Environmental Protection Commission to Miller’s office. The lawsuit alleged Kerns violated previous Iowa Department of Natural Resources administrative consent orders, failed to contain manure produced at animal feeding lots, failed to report manure releases, violated regulations related to composting dead animals, and violated state water quality laws.  

According to the lawsuit, Kerns failed to construct an unformed manure storage structure on his Taylor County facility as agreed to in a March 2017 administrative consent order with the DNR and also failed to pay an agreed to late penalty.  

The lawsuit alleges several instances in which manure was not properly retained or disposed of and was released on Kerns’ properties in both Taylor and Ringgold counties, including one occasion where a DNR employee witnessed manure from Kerns’ west facility being discharged into a tributary. 

DNR collected samples of water downstream for laboratory testing from the facility, and the results showed chemical and biological levels consistent with manure discharge.   

Additionally, the lawsuit alleged that Kerns violated state composting laws when he failed to properly maintain an adequate base later and cover material around farm animal carcasses located on his Ringgold County property.  

Kern, according to the agreement, admits to the violations and has since built a structure to comply with manure laws and paid a $23,000 civil penalty.  




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