Why be concerned about establishment of a 750 hog per day processing plant near Viroqua?

Our area is vulnerable to ground water pollution. If the plant operates to capacity for only 200 days, 150,000 hogs will be processed yearly. Where will they come from? Premium Iowa Pork Company, LLC (PIP) of Hospers, Iowa, owned by Gary Lynch. All of its pork comes from his farms. Mr. Lynch must buy local land to expand his business here. Why local? Hospers is a five-hour drive from Viroqua.

It takes huge hog farms to produce so many hogs. What will giant hog farms be like? They exist in other areas now. They bring together hogs by the thousands. Hog excrement washes into large holding ponds which produce hydrogen sulfide, ammonia and methane. You smell them miles away. They’ll kill our tourist industry. These ponds constantly threaten to leak and spill, poisoning wells, killing fish. One of these industrial farms alone poses a sewage threat as great as a good sized town. The Wisconsin Department of Revenue estimates the value of land within a mile of such a facility drops 8 to12 percent.

In Kewanee County, state regulators failed to prevent very large animal operations from polluting the groundwater. Owners can’t drink from their poisoned wells. Vernon and the surrounding counties could go down the same road due to similar geologies. Once groundwater is poisoned, it will not be clean again, not even in our grandchildren’s lifetimes.

In fairness, based on PIP’s website, PIP and Mr. Lynch appear to be admirable in many ways. No doubt they hope to expand their business even further. The issue for all of us is whether this is an industry which belongs in our area, or a disaster in the making.

More cities, towns and counties should join Vernon County towns of Liberty and Hillsboro in supporting a temporary standstill on new concentrated animal feeding operations until they prove they can operate safely in places where they belong.

Contact your local officials now. They’re listed on the websites of your city or town and county.

Winston and Cheryl Ostrow, Viola

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