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.
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.