Supervisors okay one hog CAFO, score matrix for another

The number of hog confinements will grow in Greene County after action taken following a public hearing at the board of supervisors’ meeting Aug. 24.

The board voted to recommend to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources the approval of a construction permit for Scott Walker and Adam Bauer, doing business as S & A Partners, in Paton Township, Section 25. The hogs will be fed for Prestage Pork.

The supervisors had reviewed the company’s master matrix a week earlier and had requested that a closure plan be added. That was done, bringing the master matrix score to 480. A minimum of 440 points is needed for approval.

Neither Walker nor Bauer attended the public hearing.

Highland Township producer John McCormick spoke in support of the project. He encouraged the supervisors to remain “pro livestock,” and said that confinement feeding operations (CAFOs) are one way that young producers can get into agriculture.

Dale Hanaman of rural Rippey spoke against the project. “I would ask the supervisors to re-look at ‘when is enough enough?’ How many more CAFOs will we have in the county?” He also noted that many of the hogs are owned by entities not in Greene County.

Supervisor Guy Richardson said the supervisors have asked the question of ‘enough’ over and over. “I think everyone is concerned about that. Even the confinement management is aware of those question,” he said. “But the county doesn’t really have any control of that. That’s the state that has control of that, and until they change the system and give the counties control, that’s not a question we can do anything about.”

“Your concern is a constant concern,” Richardson said.

Board chair John Muir said the master matrix would be tweaked to be more responsive to the concerns that grow with the number of buildings. Hanaman encouraged the supervisors to lobby the legislature for change in the system.

Patti Edwardson asked the supervisors to deny the application, saying that the master matrix is not perfect and that only minimally protects air and water. “It does not address the CAFO system’s detrimental effect on the quality of life in rural Iowa,” she said.

She would like serious thought to go into a vision of an agricultural system “that supports the growth and vitality of rural communities and protects the environment in the best ways possible.”

Michelle and Pat Fields, owners of the only other CAFOs in Paton Township, supported S & A. “It’s vital to our community to have the ability for young farmers to be able to produce a commodity that there is a demand for,” Michelle Fields said.

With the approval of the required permit, construction is expected to begin in the fall.

Later in the agenda, the supervisors reviewed a master matrix for Burton Davis, doing business as Davis Hog and Grain in Franklin Township, Section 23. The site is on County Road P-30 at 315th St. There is already one building there. Davis plans to build a second unit, increasing capacity to 4,900 head, a size that requires permitting.

Davis manages the facility and spreads manure from it on the surrounding acres and at his family’s home place. Cargill owns the hogs.

That matrix was prepared by Twin Lakes Environmental Services and came in at 440 points, the minimum required for approval. County zoning official Tim Healy asked Mike Sexton of Twin Lakes Environmental why there were more points taken on the matrix.

Sexton said they hadn’t put much thought into landscaping. There was no other answer.

Davis claimed no points for landscaping, emergency containment of manure storage, air filters to reduce odors, several categories of the manure management plan, community support, a worker safety and protection plan, an emergency action plan, an NRCS comprehensive nutrient management plan and groundwater monitoring wells. The matrix scored 80.5 in air considerations, 152.5 in water considerations, and 207 in community considerations (mostly available because of relatively sparse population in that part of the county).

A public hearing was scheduled for Monday, Aug. 31, at 9 am.

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