Agriculture

Sow farm proposed northeast of Columbus

By Herald-Whig
Posted: Jun. 23, 2018 12:01 am Updated: Jun. 23, 2018 11:20 pm

QUINCY -- A public information meeting will be held Wednesday night on a new swine facility proposed east of Columbus.

The meeting, held by the Illinois Department of Agriculture at the request of the Adams County Board, begins at 6 p.m. in the board room of the Adams County Courthouse, 507 Vermont.

Pike Pigs Systems/Gin Ridge LLC filed a notice of intent to construct the breed-to-wean facility with the department on April 27 for the farm planned approximately 2.3 miles northeast of Columbus.

Pike Pigs General Manager John McIntire said the facility with 3,000 sows will produce about 65,000 pigs per year for other owner-producers, mostly in Iowa.

"It will sell weaned pigs back to the owners at 3 weeks of age," McIntire said. "They will all be finished out on their farms."

McIntire said the facility has "enough property secured" to spread all the manure via umbilical hose. "It all will be injected," he said.

Operations will cost about $60,000 per week for the facility, which will employ nine. The sow farm is expected to generate more than $35,000 in tax revenue for the county and other units of local government.

"It's taxes. It's jobs," McIntire said.

The meeting provides an opportunity for people to ask questions and offer oral or written testimony on the proposed facility and whether it meets guidelines included in the state's Livestock Facilities Management Act.

A County Board can request an informational meeting -- and must if it gets a petition with signatures of at least 75 registered voters -- on proposed new facilities with over 1,000 animal units. Gin Ridge proposes to have 1,597.2 animal units.

Adams County Board Chairman Les Post said the meeting will provide more information about Gin Ridge and give area residents an opportunity to express any concerns about the project.

"So far the only people I've talked to have been from Camp Point. It's probably closer to Camp Point than it is to Columbus," Post said. "The biggest problem is the prevailing winds are from the southwest, and the site is southwest of Camp Point."

The meeting begins with a brief overview of the act and the proposed project. The hearing officer, the department's general counsel Craig Sondgeroth, then will hear questions from the audience before accepting written and oral testimony.

Doug Owens, the department's bureau chief for environmental programs, said anyone wishing to give oral testimony must sign in at the beginning of the meeting. Speakers will be sworn in by the hearing officer and may be subject to questions from the audience.

"We'll probably be limited in time to two to three minutes based on how many people we have registered to give oral testimony," Owens said.

The hearing ends with closing comments from the department, the proposed facility and the hearing officer.

The County Board then has 30 business days to make a nonbinding recommendation to the department on whether the proposed facility meets the LMFA requirements.

"We don't get to vote on whether we think it should be built. We only vote on whether it met Department of Ag guidelines," said Post, who expects the board to vote at its July 10 meeting.

After the county's recommendation, the department has 15 calendar days to approve, deny or request additional information about the facility.

"Nothing will be issued regarding the facility until the public meeting and the entire process has run its course," Owens said. "We do have the notice (of intent to construct) and the construction plan, and both appear to be complete."

Pike Pigs operates another swine facility in Adams County, two in Hancock County and others across Missouri and Illinois.

McIntire hopes to see the Gin Ridge facility, if approved, in operation in early 2019.

PUBLIC COMMENT

At a June 27 public information meeting, the Illinois Department of Agriculture will accept written and oral testimony on the proposed Gin Ridge sow farm and whether:

º Registration and livestock waste management plan certification requirements are met by the notice of intent to construct.

º Design, location or proposed operation will protect the environment by being consistent with the Livestock Facilities Management Act.

º Location minimizes any incompatibility with the surrounding area's character.

º The facility is located within a 100-year floodplain or an otherwise environmentally sensitive area and whether construction standards in the notice of intent are consistent with protecting the safety of the area.

º Owner or operator has submitted plans for operation that minimize the likelihood of any environmental damage to the surrounding area from spills, runoff and leaching.

º Odor control plans are reasonable and incorporate reasonable or innovative odor reduction technologies.

º Traffic patterns minimize the effect on existing traffic flows.

º Construction is consistent with existing community growth, tourism, recreation or economic development.

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