Unfinished Hog Confinement is Already Raising a Stink

Drive down just about any rural road in Iowa and eventually, you’ll see a hog confinement. Such facilities, sometimes called CAFOs, handle a large amount of hog manure and can emit an unpleasant odor. Not everyone is excited to see them go up in their neighborhood.

“I think it’s just that the people putting them up think they can get it done, and they don’t care about their neighbors,” says Ken Danilson who, with his wife Jan, raises cattle on their century farm north of Woodward in Boone County.

In late June, the Danilsons found that a hog confinement was under construction just down the road. Besides the possibility of air and water pollution, Jan Danilson says the real rub was the extreme short notice, made possible by part of the Iowa administrative code that does not require a public notice of the issue if the number of animals in a confinement is below a certain threshold.

When I researched it,” she recounted, “I said ‘How come we weren’t notified of that?’ Well, since it’s under the threshold of 2,500 head of swine, they didn’t have to notify anyone, didn’t have to put a notice out in the paper, didn’t have to go to the Boone supervisors.”

Jan says apart from a single phone conversation, attempts to contact the confinement’s operator have proved fruitless.

“If they want to put up a hog confinement so badly, put it on your own land,” said Jan. “They don’t live here, they don’t pay taxes in this county. They have nothing to do with this county, except farming.”

Camp ranger Cortney Webber at nearby Boy Scout Camp Mitigwa feels there may need to be some fence-mending with the neighbors. Like the Danilsons, he was caught unawares, and had concerns about keeping Camp Mitigwa’s three wells free of contamination. But after a personal meeting with the operator, Webber says many of his concerns were put to rest.

“The amount of data that has to be submitted to the DNR is really pretty impressive,” said Webber.  “Measuring the gallons of manure, having the manure managment plan, and spreading the manure on the fields; they take extra caution to stay at least 100 feet away from a waterway to leave that little buffer zone.”

 

2 comments

  • Cortney Webber

    Brandon Blue and his cameraman spent an hour and a half at Camp Mitigwa with us. We showed them all we’re trying to protect here. Our Wells, our small Lake and Pond. Like I said in the interview. It is impressive the amount of science and data tracking that goes into the operation of a hog confinement. What we’re concerned about is the effect this confinement has on our Scouts, our Neighbors, and our lands. The fact that WE as neighbors were not notified and involved in this is totally “UN-IOWAN” We help our neighbors in this state. This issue truly needs to spark a Debate in the State House and We, as Iowans, need to own all the problems we are creating with many of the farming practices in this state. Iowa is becoming an ecological disaster area. We need preventative mitigation now before our lands are sterile and our water is poison. Mitigwa has been helping make boys into good men for 91 years. We won’t make another 91 years the way we, as Iowans, manage our resources.
    Cortney J. Webber

  • Paul

    Why, when I own the land do I have to contact the neighbors before doing anything? That’s not being un Iowan..it’s being a free American. Quit teaching young men to be whiners.

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