More hogs coming to the county

Iowa Select Farms heard the Greene county supervisors’ request to provide a closure plan for a proposed CAFO expansion and answered “no.”

The supervisors at their Jan. 28 meeting approved a letter to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources recommending that the building permit to expand Hawker Farms IV’s Churdan Finisher Farm site be granted, but with a notation in the letter of Iowa Select’s refusal to comply with their request.

The CAFO is located in Section 18 of Highland Township. The expansion will add another 2,510 head capacity to a site already housing 2,490 hogs.

The supervisors had directed county zoning official Chuck Wenthold to contact Iowa Select asking for the closure plan and suggesting that landscaping be added to the site. Wenthold shared the emailed response with the supervisors at the Jan. 28 meeting.

Keith Kratchmer, environmental compliance officer for Iowa Select Farms, wrote that Hawker Farms IV has demonstrated its commitment to being a good neighbor by finding locations to build swine production facilities that meet or exceed separation distances.

Kratchmer then provided an unneeded lesson on Iowa Code and the fact that counties have a right to evaluate the master matrix scoring for a proposed CAFO, but not the right to set additional requirements beyond the Code and Iowa administrative law. He wrote that “Hawker Farms IV, LLC has a set policy that we will not provide plans or make commitments to master matrix items where points were not taken.”

“Hawker Farms IV, LLC is a good neighbor and we would not abandon a farm that we have made significant investment in,” Kratchmer wrote. He added that livestock producers of more than 500 animal units pay a manure indemnity fee for every facility constructed, transferred to another owner or expanded, and  that fund is used if a livestock facility is abandoned with manure in the storage structure.

The supervisors’ concern about closure plans goes beyond manure left in a pit. With 91 CAFOs already in the county, the supervisors are concerned about the eventuality, perhaps decades in the future, that empty CAFOs will litter the county.

Supervisor Guy Richardson has expressed frustration with the lack of local control over CAFOs many times. He called Iowa Select’s refusal to comply with the request “another reason we should have local control.”

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