After meeting Wednesday night to discuss a proposed confined animal feeding operation in the Hughesville area, 18 citizens made an appearance Thursday morning before the Pettis County Commission to present their concerns and opposition to the operation.
“This has to be stopped,” Greg Johns, a spokesperson for those in attendance Thursday, said after the meeting with the commissioners. “Some of us saw this coming for a long time and we’re here on the record to say we’re not going to put up with this.
“This is my community and we want what is best for the area,” Johns added. “This simply isn’t it.”
At both Wednesday and Thursday’s meetings, one of the major concerns centered on environmental issues.
“When I first moved here there were two houses in the area,” Johns said. “Now we have 28 and we’ve become a community.”
Johns went on to add that there are three subdivisions in the area and the proposed hog farm by United Hog Systems in Marshall would be located in the middle of the three subdivisions.
“What they want to put up is a Class A Hog operation,” Johns said. “To take care of that amount of animals would have a tremendous economic impact on the area.”
If a Class A Operation is approved, it is expected to house more than 7,000 hogs, depending on their classification.
The amount of water needed to care for the animals and to clean the facilities is an estimated 16,000 to 20,000 gallons per day.
“They use water to clean out these cement troughs,” Johns said. “All that waste water has to go somewhere and that is in the soil and land.
“It will seep into the ground water and eventually make its way into Turkey Creek,” he added. “That is right by where we all live.”
Pettis County is one of several counties in state that has health ordinances in place that address issues of confined animal feeding operations.
Armed with copies of those ordinances, community members were assured by the commissioners that the county ordinances governing the location of various sizes of feeding operations by size will determine where any feeding operation will be located.
“We really don’t know where the company is in the timing of the process,” County Commissioner David Dick said. “No formal application has been made to us and before we act on anything the DNR (Department of Natural Resources) has to approve an application.
“It is a two-tiered process between the state and county,” Dick explained. “One can’t happen without the other.”
The commissioners have not received a formal permit request to date from United Hog Systems.
Johns commented after the meeting that the grassroots committee of citizens were planning to organize into a formal group and would soon be electing officers.
“Even if they can’t have a Class 1A or 1B operation, a 1C isn’t acceptable to us either,” Johns said. “We want them to know that we have come together to stop this.
“We will fight this all the way,” he added. “What we want is no operation in our area and we want them to realize you never lose until you give up and we’re not giving up.”
Hope Lecchi can be reached at 660-826-1000 ext. 1484