By JO ANN HUSTIS
LIMA, Ill. — Involving the Adams County Board in a pending industrial hog confinement decision could mean the state is giving the county a turn at the proposal.
“(It is) giving local people opportunity to speak out,” Board Chair Les Post said March 6 on the 5,000-head farrow-to-finish hog confinement operation proposed at the Daron Duke farm in rural Lima, population 159. “We certainly don’t have the final say as to whether the building is built or not.”
The Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDOA) will decide if Duke has met the state’s eight criteria for the hog confinement operation. At a meeting of the Adams County Board on March 4, an overflow crowd of spectators voiced thoughts and concerns regarding the proposal.
Construction issues and general concerns came up at the meeting, which was part of IDOA’s permitting process. A Frank & West Environmental Engineers spokesman explained the tentative plan, which Post noted apparently clarified a lot of misinformation and helped give a better understanding of the project. “Both sides of the issue were discussed and questions answered. It’s up to the board now to make its determination,” he said.
The odor from hog manure was a big concern of those at the meeting; however, improved construction during the past 10 years has created more odor-free and less bothersome confinement facilities than their predecessors, Post said.
“One point I would like to bring up is the decision the board will make is really not whether we’re in favor of it or not. The only decision or task before the county board is to determine whether we feel they have met the eight criteria – whether we think they have met the requirements of the state,” he explained.
The county board vote will be non-binding. The IDOA would be the agency issuing the permit, not the board.
Odor can be managed
About 15 months ago, John Hagenbuch of La Salle County constructed a similar 2,400-head farrow-to-finish hog confinement building on his farm northeast of Utica. Nic Anderson of the Illinois Livestock Development Group of Divernon was a guest speaker at the open house that followed.
“Raising hogs today involves a different type of odor and management. The most impact from odor and nutrient management is when hog manure is applied on fields as crop fertilizer. When we transport that manure, or stir up the deposits, some odor will come. With modern technology and incorporation under the topsoil, that odor can deplete within 24 hours,” he said.
“This is instead of spreading the manure on top of the ground, or having an open feedlot and the odor was always there. The newer hog confinement systems contain the manure for a year before it is applied to the fields.
“Of course, we’re not odorless and we’re not a zero complex, so there are going to be days when the wind shifts and you’re going to get a whiff, or some odor is going to come into town.”
Setback rules are among the state guidelines for hog confinement operations. Depending on its size, the facility has to be a certain distance from residences and populated areas. Distances are scientifically measured for dissipation of odor, contaminants and the size of dust particles. Odor results when the smell attaches itself to dust particles, which move in the air. The required setbacks relieve some odor movement.
“Typically, hog and other livestock buildings are located in rural areas where municipalities and close neighbors do not exist. But when they do, we must take extra measures to address that and pay (extra attention) to those times of the year when odor might be a challenge,” Anderson said.
Hagenbuch noted he had few problems with people complaining about smells.
“People have gripes, and everybody’s entitled to gripe,” he said. “The environmental impact of pork production isn’t that big anymore. It’s not like we’re putting them in open lots and running around in the middle of a field, making a lot of stink.”
Last month, Bruce and Paula Barr of Morris, Ill., voluntarily dismissed their lawsuit against Grundy County for not granting their request to rezone their 57-acre farm from Agriculture-Residential to Agriculture. The Barrs were reportedly considering a 400- to 1,000-head hog confinement operation, which was opposed by many area residents concerned about possible hog odor.
“If Barr meets the (state) standards and setbacks, he also has to meet manure management standards,” Anderson said at the time. “If he can meet them, it lessens the impact on anybody who surrounds him.”