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New Fashion Pork application passes 3-2

By Staff | Apr 20, 2011

An application by New Fashion Pork for a confinement in Armstrong Grove Township passed – just barely – before the Emmet County Board of Supervisors Tuesday.

The operation falls under the Iowa Department of Natural Resources rules which require confinements to score a minimum of 440 points out of 880 on the matrix evaluation. Counties which adopt the matrix for evaluating confinements forward their approval – or disapproval – on to the DNR. The matrix is required for operations of 1,000 animal units or more – with one cow defined as an animal unit. Butcher or breeding swine weighing more than 55 pounds would be defined as .4 animal units, requiring a matrix assessment of hog operations of 2,500 or more animals.

Jay Moore, New Fashion Pork environmental health director, said the 4,400-head facility on 520th Avenue, Section 6 of Armstrong Grove Township would include four rooms under one roof.

Moore said NFP would own the barn. A similar barn pays $6,338 in taxes annually, he said.

Mike Mart, shareholder with Hawkeye Systems, a sow operation within a mile from the proposed site, opposed the application.

“I don’t understand why you can get by with putting one in,” Mart said.

Mart was particularly concerned about Hawkeye Systems hogs contracting PRRS Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome) disease.

Moore said NFP would take Mart’s concerns into consideration.

Another person objecting was David Griese, area resident.

“I just want to go on the record that I’m against it,” Griese said, noting concerns about impact on area roads and dust. “It’s not an ideal situation. You’re bringing in hogs from a long way away and you have a disease problem.”

Moore objected to Griese saying NFP had disease problems.

Griese also objected to the impact on county roads.

“And you’re asking the taxpayers of Emmet County to pay for it,” Griese said.

After further discussion, the board approved the application 3-2.

After Tuesday’s meeting, supervisor Tim Schumacher, who voted against the application, offered concerns whether county roads would stand up under trucks hauling feed and livestock.

Another concern of Schumacher’s was the impact on neighbors, particularly the PRRS issue Mart had raised. “It pretty much wipes out a whole hog confinement barn for six months to a year,” Schumacher said.

Schumacher also was concerned about out-of-state owners impacting the county and who “are doing things that will affect the quality of life in Emmet County.”

“That’s a concern of mine too,” Schumacher said, echoing an issue he had broached when he ran for supervisor last fall. “And this is an example of that. I just think it’s a quality-of-life issue.”

And, Schumacher said the $6,000 in taxes NFP would pay yearly would not cover the cost of maintaining the road after heavy truck traffic.

“I think what we’re dealing with this morning indicates a weakness in the whole matrix system,” Schumacher said.

Supervisor Jon Martyr, who also voted against the application, offered similar concerns.

While NFP’s application met matrix applications, Martyr said Moore had not mentioned that neighbors were displeased about the company’s plans for the confinement.

And, like Schumacher, Martyr reflected on Mart’s concerns about PRRS disease.

“It should be something they should take into consideration,” Martyr said. “I think we’re too quick to approve these things.”