It’s been a frenzy of rumors and questions along with a sense of excitement and relief for those who opposed the proposed 20,000 hog capacity plant that was to be constructed in Isabel Township by Professional Swine Management.

It’s been a frenzy of rumors and questions along with a sense of excitement and relief for those who opposed the proposed 20,000 hog capacity plant that was to be constructed in Isabel Township by Professional Swine Management.

Wednesday, Jan. 18, the Fulton County Farm Bureau held a meeting that, according to Karen Hudson, a Farm Bureau member who is critical of the organization and a member of Illinois Citizens for Clean Air & Water, was by invitation only.

Hudson, a resident of Elmwood in Peoria County, said an area television station attempted to cover the meeting, but were denied entry.

The following day, the application was pulled from consideration, although state agriculture officials say Professional Swine Management could restart the application process if they choose to do so.

Craig Porter is not only a farmer in Fulton County, he is also on the Isabel Township Board of Trustees.

Porter said there were a lot of concerns with the prospect of having this Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation or CAFO move into Fulton County,”There were a lot of discrepancies with their application. A big discrepancy was it started out as Cleer Farm, but Cleer Farm was already there. Mid-stream they changed it to Memory Lane Acres. Technically, they would have had to start the permitting process over. They didn’t.”

Porter went on to say as a Trustee of Isabel Township he had concerns about the damage the traffic would do along the road leading to and from the property, “As a trustee, one of my concerns was heavy traffic, like what would have been taking place during construction. Our (township) finances aren’t great. As a township we can’t have a full-time road commissioner. We’re able to pay him 15 days per month. What they would have been doing is major construction.”

Not everyone was opposed to the project.

After asking folks their thoughts on the issue through the Ledger Facebook Page knowing their responses could be used in an upcoming story, many like Cindy Bollinger Myers didn’t have an issue with it, “People forget that once upon a time there were animals everywhere. Where do they think their food is going to come from one day. It’s sad that they complain about  prices and jobs but can’t come to compromise to help their county to thrive. Our once very active agricultural county is becoming non existing.”

Ellen Martindale-Milleson concurred, “I agree, when we have opportunity knocking, we shut it down.”

Jeffrey L. Smith, a resident of Astoria questioned the possible benefits, “How many schools and local communities benefit from tax dollars from these facilities? What is the tax amount in dollars per school and community and township. Do these facilities help and hurt area farmers and homeowners? Do we like to eat pork? These facilities also bring jobs to our area. The local community stores bring in revenue from the worker and from repairing these facilities. The local unemployment rates drop as well. These facilities have pros and cons look at both sides!”

Sue Tisdale said there are myths regarding some information put forth when it comes to CAFOs, “I live near a boar stud Farm, 1/2 mile from it, and I also work there. (There are) Myths in regard to odor, soil contamination.” She noted they are EPA regulated farms with decent paying jobs and free fertilizer for farmers’ fields.

However, opponents of CAFOs strongly disagree.

Porter’s farm is three quarters of a mile from the site where Memory Lane Acres’ property is located, “I have to disagree with the idea of this bringing money to the county. Professional Swine Management isn’t a local operator. They’re from Hancock County. The money would have gone back to the investors. The feed mill was located in McDonough County.”

Hudson has been a vocal opponent of this proposed CAFO and numerous others throughout the country.

Asked about the decision of Professional Swine Management to pull their permits Hudson shared her enthusiasm, “I’m glad they pulled the plug.”

But, she’s not going to sit back on her heels and wait to see what happens next.

Hudson has been a farmer in Peoria County for 20 years and is a farm bureau member, but vehemently opposes the organization, “The farm bureau promotes any size facility at any cost.”

The Daily Ledger reached out to the Fulton County Farm Bureau and received a response from Fulton County Farm Bureau President, Bill Carlberg who is also a farmer and dairyman via email, “Farm Bureau represents farmers of all sizes and types. Our members grow not only corn and soybeans and raise livestock, they also grow a wide variety of specialty crops. Membership is not limited to specific commodities or farm sizes.

We are a grassroots organization. Any member can suggest policy at the county Farm Bureau level. Those proposals move through a process for considering and approving policies. Illinois Farm Bureau has 70,000 members. As with any organization, sometimes our members disagree on issues. That’s part of what it means to live in a democracy.

Fulton County Farm Bureau hosted a meeting last week for our Directors and members concerned about a proposed livestock farm in our area. Also present at the meeting were Illinois Farm Bureau leadership and state staff. They listened to concerns of our members and answered what questions they could.

They forwarded our concerns and those of our members to the Illinois Department of Agriculture.”

Asked whether he thought if Professional Swine Management would submit another application Carlberg said via email, “Fulton County Farm Bureau has no knowledge of what the future plans are for the proposed farm.”

Hudson said farm bureaus want to have the reputation of being farm friendly, but the opposite is true, “They have numerous lobbyists in Springfield working for them, not the family farmer.”

With the news of Professional Swine Management pulling out, many may see it as a lost opportunity, but those who have been working against these large scale animal operations see it as narrowly avoiding another nightmare.

Professor John Ikert, an agricultural economist with the University of Missouri of Columbia is quoted in a working paper regarding swine CAFOs specifically, “Piling up too much ‘stuff’ in one place causes problems. If you spread out the hogs and let hog manure lay where it falls in a pasture it doesn’t bother anyone very much. But if you start collecting it, flushing it, spreading it and spraying it around—all normal practices in confinement hog operations-becomes air pollution.”

There are also multiple health studies piling up regarding the long term affects of CAFOs on those who work in and around them as well as those who may live near a CAFO.

John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health-led research suggests some workers of industrial hog production facilities are not only carrying livestock associated, antibiotic-resistant bacteria in their noses, but may also be developing skin infections from these bacteria.

According to Environmental Defense, 110 million tons of swine waste contains antibiotic-resistant bacteria at CAFOs in the United States each year.

The practice of storing the waste in pits and open-air lagoons then subsequently applying the waste to land can lead to the contamination of soils and nearby surfaces and groundwater.

There are going to be ferocious disagreements about virtually every point when it comes to CAFOs, but one thing most can come to agree upon is the smell.

When that many animals are housed together, there is going to be a smell like no other.

Those living in rural America know what a farm smells like. However, the pollution CAFOs cause something no surrounding homeowner can control nor can they manage; devaluation of property.

According to Dr. William Weida, Foundations of Sand, “CAFOs generate odor, air and water pollution, all of which have a direct impact on neighboring properties. The closer the neighboring property, the more severe the impact is likely to be. The resulting loss of exclusive use to neighboring properties lowers their values and ultimately also lowers the taxes generated from these properties.”

John Kilpatrick, partner and senior analyst with Mundy Associates, LLC, an economic, market and valuation firm specializing in complex real estate matters headquartered in Seattle, Washington said the establishment of a CAFO may result in the value diminution to other nearby properties, “The amount of the value loss is typically an inverse function of distance, closer properties diminish more, a function of property type, newer, nicer, residences lose more, and a function of property use, farms will lose value due to diminished productivity and comparative marketability to other farm lands.”

Kilpatrick said loss of use and enjoyment and loss of exclusivity can result in a diminishment ranging from 50 percent to nearly 90 percent of otherwise unimpaired value.

He went on to say, “When appraising a property located proximate to a CAFO, the appraiser needs to consider seven specific issues, each of which will have an impact on the value and conclusions:
Type of subject property,
Distance to the CAFO,
Physical manifestations (e.g. air quality, insects),
Engineering/scientific testing performed (e.g. air quality),
Impacts on property use (e.g. habitability, rental income or vacancy),
Marketability evidence (e.g., time on market of comparable properties and
Impact on highest and best use.

While there is little disagreement that a CAFO has an impact on surrounding property values, the degree of impact is clearly a function of the interplay of these factors.”

Sate Senator Dave Koehler (D-Peoria) respond to the Ledger via email regarding the hog confinement in Fulton County, “This week I met with constituents from Fulton County concerned about the environment and economic effects of large-scale hog confinements. After a constructive conversation, it had become clear that simply doing nothing would be unacceptable. In the coming General Assembly, I plan on working with my colleagues on the Agricultural Committee to guarantee that we have adequate regulation, transparency and enforcement of existing laws.”

The application for the CAFO in Bernadotte Township is still open, Runway Ridge Facility. It is another 20,000 proposed confinement. It has stalled because of stiff opposition, but they have not pulled their application.

Because of this there will be a meeting Thursday, Feb. 2 at Elrod Schoolhouse, 8990 E. Airport Rd., Ipava beginning at 6:30 p.m.

The schoolhouse is located diagonally across the road from the proposed Runway Ridge Farm, LLC proposed confinement.

Craig Porter ended his thoughts by saying, “We are very relieved, very happy, but very vigilant. We won the battle, but we haven’t won the war.”