The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.
by Dessa Rodeffer, Quill Publisher/Owner
Macomb: The public battle began at 5:30 Monday evening with opponents voicing their opposition in a press conference of a mega swine confinement facility being placed anywhere near their properties.
They especially do not want "the stink" that accompanies them and they are worried about their wells, their families' ill health, and the loss of enjoyment in their own back yards. They feel their quality of life will change.
They had other issues as well, such as the possible contamination to their wells, or spills that might lead to the La Moine Creek and into the river, the cost of repairing the roads that already have some concerns, their property values going down, and:what kind of neighbors will they have, saying it was hard to find out who they even were.
Barbara Adams, Rural Route Blandinsville who lives in Henderson County is the closest neighbor to the proposed confinement. She said, "I urge people to drive down there to see what a poor choice this is!"
Karen Moore and her husband Lewis live in Henderson County 2 miles northeast of the proposed confinement site. She explained how she and her husband have lived on their farm 44 years, and the property dates back in their family to the Civil War. She said Moore Brothers farm is located in both McDonough and Henderson counties.
Our youngest son, Lee, took over the farm this January. "We have always tried to treat our neighbors as we wished to be treated."
Karen said, once a confinement is approved in an area it becomes a magnet attracting many others.
Karen said it is next to impossible to get CAFO's shut down, once they are built. For every known violation investigated by EPA, you can bet that there are many that go unreported.
Karen said "Airborne toxicity travels long distances. Ammonia can be carried more than 300 miles". She mentioned the fact that more than 40 diseases can be transferred to humans through manure and that antibiotics may no longer be able to cure us..
Besides health, devaluation of property, recreation, water and air pollution and odors, she also mentioned their family were hunters and feels it will also affect it.
Karen stated, that the confinement if built, " will greatly impact our future generations!, all we've worked for."
We try to be good neighbors. She stated that their farm has been the sight of the annual Raritan fireworks for many years drawing 5,000 people. With a wind farm near by and the wind in the wrong direction, people are not going to want to come back.
There is a natural gas line south of the site, that concerns her. She said her husband's ill health concerns her and there are many reason she is opposed to this in her back yard.
"If these folks want them, put them next to their own homes."
There was several who spoke during the press conference, then again at the hearing including Don and Jacki Terrell, stating they were only 950' from the LaMoine River, and their concern about having their windows open, hanging out clothes, being in the yard with family.
Laura Twaddle of Blandinsville was concerned about property south of her, located two miles East of Blandinsville, sold to Silver Creek Pig who has the same address in Carthage as South Morgan Acres, LLC which is that of Professional Swine Management LLC. (It is not Butler land but purchased from the Ronald Moliter Trust.)
The public hearing began at 6:00 p.m.. Approximately 200 people filled the room including two police officers, representative from the US Dept. of Agriculture, Engineer overseeing the building plans, a couple of the owners of South Morgan Acres, LLC, and an owner of Professional Swine Management and many of their employees who testified. There were also some backers of the pork producers, corn growers, and the Farm Bureau such as Nick Anderson who had lots of questions for those in protest.
A Power Point presentation was given by an owner of Professional Swine Management, Veterinarian Bill Hollis, who was raised in Bushnell.
He answered the question of who they were showing family photos, the PSM facilities in Carthage, their involvement in the community as good neighbors, their team of Veterinarians, Nutrition Specialists, and Managers who each gave presentations.
He addressed their plan of operation and how they work in and around the facilities, including with their neighbors.
Although he tried to be as transparent as he could, ongoing litigation with charges against facilities could not be discussed.
On almost every instant, a person who talked, was questioned by a member of the audience.
One man said, "You say you are a good neighbor, but I am your neighbor and I don't like you, and there is none of the neighbors around you who like you."
Another said it was nice they had good families, but we have good families too. This is not the issue.
Other opponents of the confinement, love working for PSM, couldn't be prouder of what they do.... raising healthy hogs.
The PSM nutritionist said this wasn't always true in the past. They work on feeding the swine with healthy foods that will also reduce odors.
They work on keeping things clean, and washed.
Hollis said they sometimes use a drag line to spread manure on fields so it is taken directly from a pit to a field through a pipe.
He said they are constantly working as a team to improve facilities and at present was overseeing 27 facilities.
Laura Twaddle, in her open presentation, said,
explaining it has been every real estate agent's motto for decades.
"Because the better the location the more the property will bring."
She is worried about the impact on her's and other's property. She is also concerned about a tax abatement that can be gained by confinements that could take away from all the taxes they are promising.
"The state, not the county can grant up to a 70% reduction in taxes."
Twaddle was told that the tax money they quoted to the county they can pretty much count on as they have other similar facilities they pay that on.
Township Road Commissioner Bill Callahan outlined the cost of fixing 1/2 mile of road that was destroyed by trucks which totaled $48,362.00.
And Henderson County Road Commissioner Earl Waller shared similar concerns wondering if they were going to have to fix the roads in Henderson County where they would not be paying taxes.
Bill Sullivan also had similar concerns who lives close to the building site, about the roads and sited much local income from taxes on confinements for roads in Henderson County townships.
Dr. Hollis said they felt they should be treated equally with any other business in the area in regards to using the roads and they would be paying a healthy tax to the county. He said there would only be 7 trucks in and out weekly, except for the initial building of the facility.
Christ Blevins, professional Swine Management's Head Manager of confinements said he came from Pennsylvania to work for PSM because of their ethics and their added value to help the producers.
"It means a lot to me to be able to help producers throughout the U.S. and for them to be able to pass those farms on."
"We have 320 employees and a large number answer to me." Everytime I drive on a sight, I pull tile samples. It's our commitment to the community and to my family who live with me close to the confinements. We want to make it work, and I believe every job counts," he said.
Tim Meyers who works for the Ill. Pork Producers Association said he was from a small 180 3rd generation farm, but explained farmers look at things differently today, but it doesn't mean we've lost sight of the values of America and caring for our environment."
He said, they work closely with EPA and they believe if there is problems they should be addressed. We don't believe pollution should happen, and we do not support getting rid of EPA.
Adam Annegers lives in Carthage with his family and is proud to work for such a company as PSM.
Clev Dixon said they get a print out from applicators of manure each year of the nutrient value that they share with the farmer.
He also said it is in their best interest to be a good neighbor, for their future depends on it. At his confinement managed by PSM, neighbors have not complained except one lady did not like seeing it so they installed a windbreak .
They also installed a truck wash and assume they were the first ones to do that on sight.
There is bound to be things that go on, but PSM manager Blevins says they report to EPA themselves no matter what, and usually everything is cleaned up and taken care of before anyone from EPA arrives.
Larry Grenter said PSM has afforded him the opportunity to come back to the states to work when his family farm failed. "Sometimes I wish people could come inside it and see all the good we do."
The hearing was good to give everyone a chance to express themselves.
Macomb: The battle began Monday evening with a twenty minute press conference called prior to a public hearing, by opponents who do not want South Morgan Acres LLC mega confinement facility built anywhere near their properties. Professional Swine Management of Carthage, in a Public Hearing gave a Power Point showing the care they give the operation.