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Supervisors recommend NFP confinement

Opposition from neighbors 15-4 goes on record

March 29, 2017
Amy H. Peterson - Staff Writer ( , Estherville News

A New Fashion Pork wean to finish hog operation in the northeast quarter of section 34 in Estherville Township, north of 12 Mile Lake, was approved by the Emmet County Supervisors at their Tuesday meeting.

The confinement scored 480 out of the required 440 points on the state's Master Matrix. The maximum points available is 880.

"Four hundred forty is passing," board chair Bev Juhl said.

A show of hands from citizens present at the public hearing showed 15 residents against the confinement and four in favor, including Brad Freking, owner and CEO of New Fashion Pork.

Jay Moore, director of environmental services for New Fashion Pork, said the single building, tunnel ventilated operation would reduce odors "as much as we can."

Jill Nissen, who lives a quarter mile from the operation, said, "No one talked to us about it."

Moore said, "I make an honest effort to knock on doors." Moore admitted, however, when shown the location of the Nissen property, that he did not visit that property nor most of those to the east.

John Skrepak asked Moore about the use of a bio-filter to reduce odors.

Moore said, "That's the last thing I would want to use on any of our farms." Moore cited an increase in rodents, higher maintenance costs, and numerous factors that make bio filters a good idea on paper that's very difficult to execute properly.

Several citizens spoke about their property values plummeting with the smell from a hog confinement near them.

One asked, "Why do we have to have all of these confinements? When does it stop?"

Another, who lives with COPD, said despite having a BREO inhaler and other medical assistance, he is unable to breathe and must leave the residence when the wind sends the smell and gases in his direction.

Moore said, "We raise pigs. We also farm. This is an agricultural community. New Fashion Pork is a family operation. We employ people in Estherville and we aren't going anywhere, we have a feed mill here."

John Skrepak asked the group if odor was the main objection to the site. Most raised their hands, but also brought up what they thought was insufficient tax revenue coming from New Fashion's properties in Emmet County.

"They trash our roads, and we have to pay for it," one speaker said.

Another said, "Our road and ditch is littered with McDonald's, Hardee's wrappers, plastic pop bottles. Is there no dumpster for the workers?"

Moore said, "Call me if you see any of our employees littering. We don't tolerate that."

Another asked, "Are you going to decrease our property values for tax purposes? The value has and will go down."

Juhl said, "We have to follow the law."

"It's difficult when you live there and can't leave. There's the septic smell. There's also the flies everywhere and all the time."

The supervisors approved the plans based on the score on the Matrix.

In other business, the supervisors held a public hearing on the weed spraying policy. County Engineer Walter Davis-Oeth will bring a revised policy to the supervisors at their next meeting, April 4 at 9 a.m. in the board room of the Emmet County Courthouse.



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