Neighbors concerned about Fayette hog farm

Large farrowing facility proposed for Jones Road site

By Ashley Bunton -

Residents in Paint Township in Fayette County say they think a plan for a proposed hog facility along Jones Road stinks.

Duane Matthews, a Fayette County farmer and Paint Township Trustee, owns the land along Jones Road that is proposed to be the site for the new facility.

“There’s about 20 acres that I’m selling,” said Matthews.

Matthews said the proposed hog facility will house 2,400 hogs and be used for farrowing.

Hog houses, as they are sometimes referred to, are used for different specialized hog enterprises. In a hog farrowing facility a sow typically produces a litter of eight to nine piglets every six months, according to the United States Department of Agriculture. The piglets are generally kept with the sow for lactation until they are weaned at two to three weeks.

The residents who live on Jones Road said they are concerned about having the proposed facility built along their road.

Roger LeBeau and his family have lived on Jones Road for more than 40 years. LeBeau is a Fayette County grain farmer and auxiliary deputy sheriff for the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office.

He said their home is about a half-mile from where the manure would be produced and that the land where the manure would be knifed into the top soil sits about 300 feet from his house.

“There will be times when they’re cleaning out the manure lagoon and spreading the manure and it’s going to stink. I am downwind,” said LeBeau.

LeBeau said his family is his first priority. His daughter, Amy J, has multiple sclerosis.

“My handicapped daughter lives in this house and this is going to affect her. I’m concerned about the detriment to Amy J’s health,” said LeBeau.

LeBeau said Amy J is well-known in the community and used to show horses at the Fayette County Fair. He said only a few cars drive down Jones Road a day, and prior to 2000, Amy J drove herself up and down the road in a motorized wheelchair.

“We don’t want to see this road turned into a traffic thoroughfare or have to endure the smell of manure. Having this facility this close to my daughter and downwind from it is going to be unbearable for Amy J and all of us,” said LeBeau.

John Schlichter, Ohio Deputy Director of Agriculture, said a proposed hog facility with 2,400 hogs would not be large enough to require a permit.

“They are not required to have a permit because they are under the size required to have a permit. The number of hogs is 2,500-hog to have a permit,” said Schlichter.

“As far as run-off or discharge, if that happens we would get a complaint. Local Soil and Water Conservation would investigate any complaints,” said Schlichter. “There are steps in place that if manure reached the water that it would be investigated.”

Dal Craig-Crawford lives next door to where the new hog farrowing facility would be built. She said she thinks the hog farrowing facility will result in a general negative change to the environment and atmosphere.

“I feel betrayed, very angry and hurt by the long-term leasing of land right next door to us for a mega-hog operation. I’m concerned about the increased traffic and destruction of our road, decrease in property value, water table problems, potential pollution of our creek, odor, flies and rodents,” said Craig-Crawford.

The National Association of Boards of Health reported that groundwater can become contaminated from “runoff from land application of manure” and is a risk to drinking water in rural areas.

The residents on Jones Road said they get all of their water from wells, but Matthews maintained that the operation is safe.

“If it wasn’t safe I wouldn’t be doing this. It’s all under EPA guidelines, it’s under Agriculture. It’s all going to be contained,” said Matthews.

“We oversee agriculture pollution from non-permitted facilities. From what I understand this facility with 2,400 hogs would not be permitted,” said Matt Lane, the state conservation technical services manager at the Division of Soil and Water Conservation at the Ohio Department of Agriculture.

“If there’s a complaint, there’s an obligation that livestock owners need to follow a set of standards of how they handle their manure, how they apply their manure, and if they don’t follow those standards and there’s pollution to the waters of the state, that’s a violation of the law,” said Lane.

“Facilities like this are being built across rural Ohio with no requirements to prevent them from polluting our streams or groundwater,” said Adam Rissien, the Ohio Environmental Council Director of Clean Water.

“These operations skirt existing rules by housing all their animals in separate locations so they fall below the number where regulations would ever apply. We have no idea how many livestock operations have gamed the system this way because the state doesn’t even track them,” said Rissien.

Matthews said the proposed hog farrowing facility will be locally owned and operated by John Surber.

Surber owns and operates Premier Solutions. He did not return several calls for comment.

The business has expanded from operating in three Ohio counties to operating across the world. According to the website, Feed The World, LLC, shipped its first air-freighted load of pigs out of Clinton County to Russia in October of 2012.

Matthews said the hog farrowing barn will be able to do more than just provide food.

“It’s going to create some jobs, it’s going to help bring grain prices up,” said Matthews.

Large farrowing facility proposed for Jones Road site

By Ashley Bunton

Reach Ashley at the Record-Herald (740) 313-0355 or on Twitter @ashbunton

Reach Ashley at the Record-Herald (740) 313-0355 or on Twitter @ashbunton