Over 50 people attended the Public Hearing for Hill View Swine Site 2 Master Matrix on Wednesday morning, May 12 at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds. Numerous people shared their opposition to the 3720-head CAFO proposed by Tom and Jacob Adam that will be built at 2704 Salina Road in Buchanan Township. The operation will contain two hog confinement buildings as well as a building to compost dead hogs and will generate nearly 900,000 gallons of liquid hog waste. Hill View Swine Site 2 is approximately 5.5 miles away from Fairfield and Maharishi Vedic City.
Supervisors Daryn Hamilton, meeting moderator, and Susie Drish were present. Dee Sanquist was unable to attend due to a broken foot, but participated by phone. Attendees were allowed three minutes to make their comments.
Adam Family Members Support the Proposed CAFO
Several members of the Adam family voiced their support of the new confinement. The father/son partnership already has one 3600 head factory farm located on Salina Road three quarters of a mile east of this new site.
Members of the Adam family presented a host of reasons why they considered their confinement a positive development for the county. Hogs have always been raised in Jefferson County said Tom Adam, but he doesn’t farm the same way as his forefathers. Vegetable crops or house construction are not conducted the same way as in years past, and he contended there was no reason why hog farming can’t make use of technological advances. He added that hog farming was good for the county’s economy.
Adam, who lives 400 feet away from his first CAFO, Hill View Swine, said he doesn’t smell his confinement, but one attendee questioned if he was immune to the smell. Adam invited neighbors to call him if they experienced odors from his confinement and he would close the buildings’ curtains, which when raised, allow fresh air to circulate in the confinements.
His son, Jacob Adam, said they were building a larger CAFO with a Master Matrix as a favor to the community rather than build several smaller factory farms (fewer than 1250 hogs) that are not regulated. The primary wind direction is from the southwest, he said, and the closest neighbor northeast of the building is 1.3 miles away. Another attendee countered that the smell travels more than a mile. However, according to the map provided with the Construction Permit Application, there is a residence 3470 feet east of the CAFO site and another 4425 feet north of the site. The closest neighbor is 2232 feet west of the site. While winds from the southwest direction predominate, wind can blow in any direction and affect all neighbors regardless of where they are located.
Nick Adam, owner of the 10,000 head Valley View Swine in Wapello County, said there was a big demand for pork and suggested people protest slaughterhouses instead as they drove the demand for the hogs that farmers were fulfilling. The world eats pork, he said, and you raise hogs where you grow corn. Adam also said the hog waste along with additional applications of anhydrous ammonia were good for the land. Both are essentially the same as they increase the nitrogen levels in soil.
Marni Adam shared that this was her family farm and that they rose at 4:00 am every morning to check on the temperature for the hogs. She also reiterated that they avoided putting up smaller farms that skirt around regulations. Bikers are a problem on Salina Road, she contends, but she said she deals with them rather than trying to stop them.
Numerous Attendees Voiced Concerns and Opposition to the New Confinement
Many people spoke up in their opposition to the factory farm. Representing JFAN, Dr. John Ikerd read JFAN’s statement that listed several items of concern on the Master Matrix that JFAN will present at the Public Scoring Session scheduled for Friday, May 21 at 9:00 am at the Supervisor’s Office. He primarily focused on the harms CAFOs impose on the people of Jefferson County and provided data to show how few CAFO operators there are in Jefferson County relative to the total number of farmers and the population of over 18,000 county residents.
“The most important responsibility of government officials such as you is to protect the safety, health, and well-being of the people they represent. According to the USDA Agricultural Census, only 48 of the 636 farmers in Jefferson County operate CAFOs—about one-out-of-thirteen. Only 3.3 percent, or one-in-thirty, people in Jefferson County are classified as farmers. People chose to live, work, operate businesses, including farms, in Jefferson County primarily because of its reputation as a good place to live and raise families. The continued expansion of CAFOs clearly risks the economic and cultural future of the county,” he read.
Dr. Ikerd also told the supervisors that they have the capacity to deny a CAFO application even though it is forced to pass a Master Matrix because the Master Matrix resolution adopted every year gives them that latitude. He handed a copy of the resolution to Supervisor Hamilton at the end of the meeting.
Dr. Mark Stimson, who operates a commercial greenhouse on Walton Road, said Iowa’s antiquated CAFO laws are not “our laws” but those heavily influenced by corporate agriculture for its own profit. Marg Dwyer said while we need to raise animals for meat, she disagrees with the method of factory farming. Iowa generates the equivalent amount of manure of 164 million people she reported.
Fairfield resident Dorothy Drees said she lives near Central Square and can at times smell manure at home and on the trail system. Suzanne Vessley shared how her husband got violently ill every time the wind shifted when they lived near CAFOs before moving to Fairfield. Her relatives in Northwest Iowa that raise hogs are opposed to factory farms “that have devastated small farmers, who raise their animals more ethically,” she said.
Hill View Swine neighbor Mary Carter, a tree farm owner located on Osage and Salina Roads, said the best time to enjoy family outdoors is when the curtains are open on the confinement buildings, intensifying the smell and ruining their experience. She pointed out that her family made a huge investment in their property just as the Adam’s are planning to do. An Amish family on Tamarack Road is forced to breathe the smell from the hog manure every day, she said, as they don’t use air conditioning and must leave their windows open.
Her husband, Harley Carter, said they couldn’t go out all of November when the weather was nice because of the smell emanating from a CAFO north of their property when it spread its manure. You have to draw the line somewhere, he said, because no one will want to farm the land for vegetables or reforest the land near a factory farm.
Their son, Sean Carter, shared that he experienced a very intense hog farm smell while visiting a friend north of town, waking up with the smell and taste in his mouth. He questioned why younger Iowans would even want to stay in Iowa.
Packwood resident Karyn Mitchell lives on a century farm near three confinements and said the smell is so bad her family can’t go outside and that their friends no longer visit. She referenced a recent Washington Post article eporting on a study that found over 17,000 people die every year from breathing in ammonia and particulate matter from animal agriculture. The study found animal agriculture causes more deaths than the use of coal.
Fairfield resident Jim Davis said his grandmother, a farmer who raised hogs on the land, stopped hog farming in the 1980’s when CAFOs were beginning to make their mark because she felt it just wasn’t right to go in that direction.
Showing a graph charting the increase in pork demand over the last three years, Tamara Belland contended there was a growing problem with odor and health concerns. She also asked how much is enough?
The meeting lasted about an hour and Supervisor Hamilton concluded the public hearing after a question and answer period that got contentious.
The Public Scoring Session will take place on Friday, May 21 at 9:00 am at the Supervisors Office in the Jefferson County Courthouse located at 51 W. Briggs Avenue in Fairfield. JFAN will be present making a case for denying several questions on the Master Matrix. The meeting will also be available via Zoom, and JFAN will share how to connect as soon as that information becomes available. Community members are strongly encouraged to attend.
The Master Matrix claimed 500 points with a passing score of 440 points needed for approval. After a thorough analysis of the Matrix, JFAN feels it will be difficult to reduce the score by 70 points in order for the supervisors to deny the Matrix on the point system alone.
But the supervisors do have the authority to deny an application for reasons other than not having enough points to pass. The Construction Evaluation Resolution, the formal document the supervisors submit each year to adopt the Master Matrix, states “the board’s recommendation to the DNR may be based on the final score on the Master Matrix or may be based on reasons other than the final score on the Master Matrix.”
With community wide opposition to more CAFO expansion in Jefferson County, JFAN will ask the board of supervisors to deny this application in order to make a statement for supporting a better regulatory system that pays more attention to a neighborhood’s well being, public health, clean water, and improved rural economies. Twenty-six counties have adopted a resolution or letter that supports a moratorium until the Master Matrix is overhauled. According to Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, last year at least eight counties failed a Master Matrix that had enough points to pass in order to voice their support of an improved system of regulation.
We encourage JFAN supporters to urge Jefferson County Supervisors to do the same. Click here to find each supervisor’s email address and phone number and let them know how you feel about more CAFO development in Jefferson County.
We also encourage JFAN supporters to attend the public scoring session on May 21 either in person or via Zoom.
*Time: May 21, 2021 09:00 AM
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Meeting ID: 817 9636 9114