Sure of CAFO approval, Iowa Select denies Greene County BOS request

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At a Greene County hog confinement near Churdan, field tile lies neatly coiled, waiting for spring installation. Much of the state's nitrate pollution is carried to Iowa rivers by field tile, according to source-water experts.

Iowa Select Farms heard the Greene County Board of Supervisors’ request to provide a closure plan for their proposed CAFO expansion, but they answered, “No,” a pointed reminder of the county leaders’ powerlessness to control corporate CAFO construction in the county.

The five supervisors at their Jan. 28 meeting approved a letter to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources that recommended granting a building permit to expand Hawker Farms IV’s Churdan Finisher Farm site, but the letter also noted Iowa Select’s refusal to comply with their request for an exit plan.

Iowa Select Farms of Iowa Falls owns the hogs in the confinement building owned by Hawker Farms of Iowa Falls on land purchased from Matthew Hinners of Carroll County.
Iowa Select Farms owns the hogs in the Hawker Farms confinement building near Churdan. Both companies are based in Iowa Falls.

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

The supervisors had directed the county’s sanitarian and zoning official, Chuck Wenthold, to contact Iowa Select and ask for the closure plan. They also suggested adding landscaping to the site.

Wenthold shared Iowa Select’s 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 to the supervisors on Iowa Code, explaining that counties have a right to evaluate the master matrix scoring for a proposed CAFO but not the right to set additional requirements beyond what the Code and Iowa administrative law provide.

“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,” Kratchmer said. “Hawker Farms IV LLC is a good neighbor, and we would not abandon a farm that we have made significant investment in.”

He added that livestock producers of more than 500 animal units – equal to 1,250 hogs — pay a manure indemnity fee for every facility that is constructed, transferred to another owner or expanded, and that the fund is used if a livestock facility is abandoned with manure still in the storage structure.

The supervisors said their concern about closure plans goes beyond manure left in a pit. With 91 CAFOs already in Greene County, the supervisors are concerned abandoned CAFOs could come to litter the county decades from now.

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

Tori Riley is editor and publisher of the Greene County News Online.

6 COMMENTS

  1. I don’t know if I have the will or the way to do it, but I might just start heeding my vegan friend’s requests and just stop eating hogs.

    • Hog eaters of America, these hogs are shipped to China and Japan because they will not eat their own swine. They send it to America. Our hog eaters just do not care. Please quit eating these earthlings. Go vegan, go healthy.

      • It is well known that pork is both produced and consumed in China and Japan. They also import pork from abroad, including from U.S. producers. Let us try to base our judgments on facts.

        • J. T. Jones can be called to question on his statistics, but he does care for the planet and all the critters on it. As long as it does not suffer in life and is dispatched quickly and humanely, I have no moral objection to eating critters, but Jones does. What concerns me is the environmental impact of these confinement operations, whatever chemicals, drugs and antibiotics are involved as well as the life quality of the hogs.

  2. My small family of five owns a set of confinement barns. It is temperature controlled, so the pigs are never in extreme cold or heat. We work to make sure they are healthy and have clean food and water. The manure is in a completely contained pit. It only comes out of the pit when we want it to. And it gets applied where we want it to according to DNR standards. We are good stewards of the animals and of the land. I would like people to understand that the folks raising the pigs care about the environment, too. We swim in the lakes and rivers, drink the water, and we live a mile down the road from our barn. We raise animals as our livelihood because we love working with animals. We actually do try and do what is best for the environment and the animals. FYI… the manure is an excellent organic fertilizer.

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