Construction of hog farms to begin soon
When Dean Backer heard he would be living downwind of a proposed hog farm, the fourth-generation farmer said it just plain stinks.
The second in his family to run the 120-acre farm just north of Roanoke in rural Woodford County, it’s not as though he can just pick up and move.
"We all got to eat, but there’s too many (hog farms) going up," said Backer, one of just a few residents in the vicinity who are surrounded by endless acres of corn and beans. "I don’t know if there’s anything we can do to stop this."
Likely there isn’t.
Illinois Department of Agriculture spokesman Jeff Squibb said no public hearings were required because of the size of the facility. And because the owner, New Horizon Pork, and operator, Triple L Pork, Inc., have met all the required setbacks for location and construction site needs, plans for two separate hog farms were approved near Roanoke.
While inspections will continue during and after construction, Squibb said both projects are following guidelines.
Even the land met standards — it already is zoned agriculture.
Both of the hog farms — one to be located on County Road 1600 North, between 1800 and 1900 East and the other on County Road 1700 East, between 2100 and 2200 North — are to be situated on about one acre of land and house no more than 2,400 pigs, the threshold for requiring a public hearing.
Randy Leman, a co-owner of Triple L Pork, said the designs of the farms are environmentally sound, will limit smell, provide additional tax dollars to the county and schools, as well as provide area farmers with rich manure at a fraction of the cost of most nitrogen-based fertilizers.
"We’re trying to be as neighbor-friendly, or as community friendly, as possible," Leman said.
The near 20,000-square-foot buildings are designed with waste storage directly underneath that would be pumped out once a year and applied to neighboring fields using an injection method to negate smell. Additionally, dense trees and other vegetation would surround the facility on all four sides to limit how far the manure smell might travel.
Construction is expected to begin at one of the hog farms possibly next week, with work beginning on the other in about one month. Both farms could be raising pigs by the end of the year. And Leman said he is not ruling out expansion of the farms as early as next year.
According to maps provided by Maurer and Stutz Inc., New Horizon’s engineering group, no one lives within a quarter-mile of either proposed hog farm. A handful, however, do live within a half-mile radius. Roanoke-Benson Community Unit School District 60 is listed at 8,130 feet away.
Among those who live within a half-mile is Bill Ward, who moved to his country home 17 years ago to retire.
He has concerns about the smell, but also about future water quality, which is drawn from a well outside his home.
"I’ve got people telling me it’s going to be no good," he said Monday.
Ward said he is writing the Illinois Attorney General’s Office asking for help on the matter.
This wouldn’t be the first time hog farms became a decisive issue in Woodford County.
The state agriculture department in 2002 gave approval for expansion of Lone Willow Farm, located about three miles southeast of Cazenovia near Metamora, and which Leman is also a part owner.
Neighbors opposed to the venture appealed the decision to the department’s director, who denied it, before they appealed to the circuit court, where the decision to issue the permit was upheld. That facility raises up to 24,000 hogs annually.
Dave Haney can be reached at (309) 686-3181 or email@example.com.