OTTUMWA — Tensions were high when county officials held a hearing on a proposed hog confinement.
Attendees opposed the idea of Valley View Swine, LLC, building a confinement near their homes in Wapello County. Ultimately, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources will make the decision on whether they will allow the hog confinement.
Public attendance was limited to 10 people, but supervisors allowed more due to the level of interest. Many expressed frustration when supervisors asked them to wait out in the hall for their turn to speak.
Some asked supervisors to postpone the meeting, but Supervisor Jerry Parker said it was too late to postpone the meeting since the county auditor had to submit the minutes at a specific time. Despite the 10-person capacity, the meeting was held.
Parker read a written comment from Roger Russ. Russ opposed the hog confinement because of the odor, stating “when you walk outside and it is well below freezing and your eyes and nose can hardly stand the odor something is not right.”
Mark York, another attendee and county resident, also voiced concerns with the odor and air quality. “From my research I’ve been able to come up with is that it would kill the hogs from the ammonia from that,” he said. “If we’re blowing it out of the hog houses into the local community then what’s the effect from an air quality standpoint from the rest of the community?”
York also said he didn’t see a need for another hog confinement when there are many around the state and the world.
“Apparently we’re not just feeding America,” he said. “We’re feeding a lot of people in Mexico, South Korea, China, Japan, Hong Kong, all over the world through these exports. We’ve got 6,300 hog facilities already in the state of Iowa. What necessitates to have more when we’re exporting the hogs anyway? That’s my concern.”
Jeff Adam, one of the owners of Valley Swine LLC, said he wants to build the confinement because of the “multi-million dollar investment,” to invest in agriculture, and in the community.
Thomas Munley asked Adam where they plan to dump the manure from the confinement. Adam wasn’t sure. Like the other attendees, Munley was also concerned about the air quality.
“I’ll probably never be able to open my windows in the summertime,” he said. “I appreciate you building it there, I mean God you destroyed our fresh air and tranquility out there. We’ve got a lot across the road from us where if you put your crap out there, it’s going to wash right through our yard.”
Gail Hunter is also opposed to the confinement because of the effect it has on farmers. “They [concentrated animal feeding operations] take … jobs away, especially from farmers, the small farmers,” Hunter said. “The amount of hogs produced by the small-town farmer has been reduced drastically over the last 10 years because of the hog confinements coming into areas.”
Hunter also addressed health concerns from these operations. “It can make you susceptible to respiratory problems, nausea, diarrhea, burning eyes … confusion, tension, depression and fatigue,” she said. “Children are especially susceptible to asthma. We’ve seen asthma attacks increase dramatically over the years.”
Supervisors will send the concerns to the Iowa DNR and inquire if the hog confinement may be built.