The Greene County Board of Supervisors voted Monday to approve a construction permit Monday for the 99th hog CAFO (concentrated animal feeding operation) in Greene County, and they recommended approval to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
The board’s decision came after a 45-minute public hearing on Bardole Finisher, a 4,999-head, two-unit CAFO proposed for construction in Section 5 of Washington Township west of Rippey.
But that’s not news. The supervisors have little or no choice but to recommend approval, and the board has approved every CAFO application in recent years.
However, there is some news this time. Due primarily to the persistence of Nancy and Dale Hanaman, the county supervisors agreed to approve a resolution to send to the Iowa Legislature asking the master matrix, the rubric used to evaluation proposed CAFOs, be reviewed.
Roy Bardole, a cousin of Nancy Hanaman, will operate the CAFO along with his sons, Tim Bardole and Peter Bardole, and Tim’s son, Schyler Bardole.
Peter Bardole also sits on the Greene County Board of Supervisors.
The master matrix score for Bardole Finisher was 535 points, “about as high as we’ve had,” BOS Chair John Muir said early in the hearing. Greene County Zoning Coordinator Chuck Wenthold explained the high score was primarily due to generous setback distances. Bardole Finisher will stand a half-mile from the nearest residence. Many other CAFOs are closer to their neighbors.
Neighbors Jerry and Linda Groves attended the public hearing to voice their concerns about the water usage of the Bardole CAFO. They live nearby and are worried the new well at Bardole Finisher will deplete their own well. The CAFO will pump 8,000 gallons of water per day. Linda Groves asked who would pay if their well needed to be drilled deeper.
“I don’t mind supporting people,” Groves said, “but if they’re going in infringe on our rights . . . .”
Muir assured the Groves their concerns would be noted in what the board sends to the DNR. He said he didn’t know what the impact would be on the aquifer.
The Hanamans live less than a mile away from the proposed site, in Nancy’s childhood home, the home of Clark Bardole, brother of Roy Bardole’s father, Paul Bardole. Clark and Paul farmed together for a time. Clark left farming for a career in banking, and Paul continued the family farming tradition as have his sons, grandsons and now great-grandson.
“I know that they (the Bardoles) will operate it (the CAFO) in the most responsible way possible,” Nancy Hanaman said.
She noted the growing number of CAFOs since she and Dale returned to Greene County from Wisconsin in 2007.
“I feel after considering water needs, air quality and other concerns, that additional confinements are not in the best interest of Greene County,” she said.
Hanaman reminded the supervisors that the master matrix was written in the early 1990s and hasn’t been changed.
“Many changes have occurred over those years in the needs of farmers and other town and rural residents,” she said, suggesting an “important step” would be to pass a resolution to pass on to State Rep. Phil Thompson and State Sen. Jerry Behn, asking that all parties involved revise the master matrix and that a moratorium be put on additional CAFOs until the matrix is updated.
“We have different opinions, and we respectively continue our discussions,” Hanaman said. “We agree that we want our county to be a place where our children and grandchildren can live and prosper. We are indeed all in this together, now and in the years ahead.”
Dale Hanaman said once Bardole Finisher is built, there will be 17,500 hogs within two miles of their home. He said the county doesn’t need another CAFO.
“The supervisors need to be thinking about how many new confinements can be added to the farmland in the future,” Paul Hanaman said. “Is it 150 or more than this? When will our county reach the maximum number of confinements for manure management plans?”
Muir said he didn’t think any of the supervisors have a problem with asking the legislature to look at the master matrix.
“That system has become outdated, somewhat, because of change in the industry,” Muir said, “and because I don’t think at the time it was put together it totally addressed or understood how the confinement industry – cattle, hogs, chickens – has grown. I don’t think any of us would be against putting it on our agenda to put together a letter or something.”
Nancy Hanaman specified that a more formal resolution would carry more weight than a letter. The supervisors agreed.
Schyler Bardole did most of the speaking on behalf of Bardole Family Farms (a partnership of Tim and Schyler) and of Bardole and Sons (Roy, Tim and Peter). Between them they farm three Century Farms, one coming via Roy’s wife Phyllis (Heater), one being the Bardole farm, and one via Schyler’s wife Lauren (King).
Schyler Bardole said he is the sixth generation to farm on the family farm.
He said the decision to build a CAFO was difficult and that he researched growing buffalo, crickets and hops before deciding on a hog CAFO.
“The decision to move forward with raising hogs,” Bardole said, “was driven by our previous experience raising hogs, the stability of working with an established integrator, and it’s by far the safest investment for us.”
The Bardoles will operate the barns and handle all daily chores, he said, noting the Bardoles have run a no-till, strip-till operation for 25 years, and they also plant cover crops on most of their acres.
“It’s through conservation practices such as these, that focus on sustainability and soil health, that our operation has been certified as a Conservation Farm and also an Iowa Farm Environmental Leader,” Bardole said. “We’re very proud of these and will take the same dedication and care into our hog operation.”
Roy Bardole assured the Groves that “we’ll be the very best neighbors we can.”
A motion to recommend approval of the construction permit was passed, with Supervisors Muir, Dawn Rudolph and Mick Burkett voting yes. Supervisor Peter Bardole abstained, and Supervisor Tom Contner was absent.
Tori Riley is the editor and publisher of the Greene County News Online.