By Tori Riley, Greene County News Online
Big pork will get bigger with a planned expansion at a New Fashion Pork facility on County Road N58 (the Greene/Carroll County line) at 160th St in Section 31 in Cedar Township.
The Greene County Board of Supervisors at its April 13 meeting reviewed the master matrix scoring for the expansion at the former Elite Pork site. There are not close neighbors to the site, and members of the media were the only persons at the scoring.
New Fashion Pork, with company headquarters in Jackson, Minn., is the 14th largest pork producer in the country, the company’s director of environmental services, Jay Moore, told the supervisors. The company has facilities in Minnesota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Iowa, Illinois and Indiana.
New Fashion Pork purchased Elite Pork, an 8,000-sow farrow-to-finish operation owed by Dr Craig Rowles, in 2014. All of Elite Pork’s facilities were in Carroll County with the exception of the Cedar Township site.
There are currently three buildings at the site and a capacity of 3,000 sows. New Fashion Pork plans to construct a 102-foot by 160-foot building as a gilt development unit. The building will house 1,600 young pigs as they grow to breeding size. Moore said the expansion will let the site “conform to the way we operate.”
The master matrix scoring for the site claimed 550 points. Only 440 are needed for approval by the Department of Natural Resources. The supervisors did not disagree with any of the point totals, but they and county zoning officer/sanitarian Tim Healy named problems with three areas of the scoring: a lack of any landscaping at the site, no plan for any eventual closure of the site, and a non-specific plan for how manure would be applied to farm ground.
Board member Guy Richardson told Moore landscaping is “part of being a good neighbor.” Moore said he would pass the comments along to his supervisors, but he gave little reason to think landscaping would be added.
“I’d like to see the inclusion of some kind of closure plan,” board chair John Muir said. “I know they’re pretty generic, but at least it gives us the comfort that down the road, if things change, we don’t have it sitting out there deteriorating.”
Moore asked whether there had been a problem in the county with closed confinement facilities. He was told there has not been but was again encouraged to provide a closure plan.
“It shows you’ve made a little extra commitment to the site,” Muir said.
Moore is familiar with the regulations of the confinement pork industries in all states where New Fashion Pork operates. He said regulations in Minnesota and Iowa are more comprehensive than in other states, mentioning setback distances as an example.
“It forces you to find a good site,” he said.
The supervisors continued their due diligence, asking Moore about New Fashion Pork’s record with the DNR. Moore said the company has been fined once in the past 12 years, when a manure applicator applying on a hill ended up rolling down the hill and spilling its load.
He said he does not foresee further expansions by New Fashion Pork in the future.
A public hearing will be held Monday, April 20 at 9 a.m. before the supervisors approve a recommendation to the DNR that the construction permit for the expansion be granted. That recommendation is a formality, as the DNR has the power to grant permits without local approval.
The primary reason for going through the master matrix scoring is to provide a forum in which neighbors or the concerned public can ask questions, have dialogue and air their opinions, Muir said.
Sanitarian Healy said previously there are approximately 75 confinement sites in the county.