The Premium Iowa Pork (PIP) slaughtering facility proposed for just outside of Viroqua will bring environmental impacts to the area we should all be aware of and concerned about.

This facility is, at least for now, proposing to process 750 hogs per day which translates to upwards of 195,000 hogs per year. By industry standards, this is a very small facility. Most are 4 to 10 times this size. Once PIP has established the operation, it is very likely to expand.

Where will 195,000 hogs per year, and likely far more, be coming from? Currently, hog production concentrations in Iowa -- which are necessarily clustered within a three to five hour transport radius to reduce transportation stress and costs -- have led to increased disease and animal losses in these concentrated production areas. PIP is apparently looking for new less disease pressure/uncontaminated production areas. And, PIP also knows we do not have strong zoning regulations here which makes us a good unencumbered target area for expansion.

Hog production for vertically-integrated companies like PIP are unlikely to benefit local farmers -- either for production or for custom processing. The plant’s required large hog numbers will bring in new industrial-scale production by new producers not from the area but rather from within the organization’s existing circle of corporate producers. This is what vertically-integrated means and what PIP is.

Water requirements and waste production are real concerns. To produce the minimum 195,000 hogs yearly, up to 30 containment hog facilities (fewer if larger) will be required. Each of these 30 “smallish” facilities would have over 3,300 hogs on premises at any time. Conservatively, each hog consumes 3 gallons of water per day and therefore each such facility will require 10,000 gallons of water per day or 3.6 million gallons of water per year. And, the manure produced by each “smallish” facility would be 1.5 million gallons per year.

We need to consider the cumulative impact of these water use and waste production figures on all the sub-watersheds where such production facilities are likely to be sited. It is not a pretty vision. Dry wells and brown undrinkable water anyone?

The negative impacts to the hundreds of millions of sustainable dollars of revenue generated by our clean cold-water resources is another serious concern.

Speak up. Tell Viroqua, Richland Center and Sparta to not accept PIP’s wastewater.

Tom Lukens, Viroqua

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