Say “NO” to industrial-scale hog confinements

To the editor:

Sibley County residents around Winthrop need to know that applications for 2 hog nursery operations (Conditional Use Permits, #1151 and #1152) were submitted to the Sibley County Planning and Zoning Commission on July 1. Fortunately, the decision to grant them was tabled to enable closer scrutiny of the operations and ensuing problems.

The information packet for these applications contains ZERO details about how they plan to handle millions of gallons of liquid manure, dead animal composting, excessive noise and lights, increased truck traffic, or how they will control odor. The Center for Disease Control reports that foul odors can be smelled 6 miles away which includes the City of Winthrop. Each hog confinement will warehouse up to 5,980 pigs, (up to 600 animal units each) for a total of up to 11,960 pigs, which equals up to 1,200 animal units set within 3/4 of a mile from each other and less than 1 mile from Hy. 19. Depletion, even contamination, of our ground water seems imminent.

My land is less than two miles west of Winthrop on Hwy 19 and one of these animal factories would be upwind directly across Cty Rd 53. The surrounding zoning area to the east where my property is, is wrongly listed in the planning and zoning overview as “General Agriculture”. That is in error. Our land has been zoned “natural prairie wetlands” for 16 years. My late husband, Dallas, and I spent our lives making that acreage good farmland. When we retired, we turned all the farmland back to nature for the benefit of wildlife, the environment and the community. The proposed operation is only 434 feet from the restored wetland and could undermine everything.

I am in the process of building a new home to replace the home destroyed by fire in 2018. I was never warned that an industrial-scale hog operation was “in the works” until a few days prior to the hearing this month. The huge fans in these barns will blow dangerous hydrogen sulfide, methane and ammonia out of the barn and into the surrounding air we breathe. I do not believe it is fair that in my old age I should be deprived of everything my husband and I worked to achieve over 50 years, just so an industrial hog complex can be built across the road. I am against big industrial operations running family farmers out of business by raising thousands of hogs in confined systems, all the while contaminating – even poisoning – the community around them.

The final hearing on whether to grant Conditional Use Permits to these two operations will be at 6 p.m. on Aug. 5, 2019, at the Courthouse in Gaylord, MN.

Rosemary Arhart