Batavians meet to discuss hog buildings
BATAVIA – The Batavia Community Center was packed Friday night for a discussion between local residents and a farmer who wishes to build hog confinement buildings near the town.
Shawn Adam, of rural Batavia, plans to build four hog confinement buildings at two sites near the Wapello-Jefferson County border. Each building will hold just under 2,500 hogs.
Adam plans to start building the first site in late April or early May, and then the second site in June. Site 1 will be located on the Wapello-Jefferson Road about two miles south of Batavia. The buildings will be on the west side of the road in Wapello County.
Site 2 will be located near the intersection of Washington Road and 45th Street, also in Wapello County. It will be about four miles from both Eldon and Batavia. Adam lives 750 feet west of Site 2.
Wapello County does not have a master matrix system for looking into hog confinement applications.
Adam said he chose those two sites because they are close to his farmground, which means he will not have to transport his manure very far. In fact, Adam is not planning to haul any of the manure over the road. His plan is to insert the manure directly into the ground through an “umbilical cord” attached to the manure pits.
About 90 people attended Friday’s information meeting with the Adam family. Several of those in attendance worried about the odors from the hog operations.
Adam said he was going to take steps to reduce the odors as much as possible, such as by planting trees around the buildings to serve as a windbreak.
“They always say the solution for pollution is dilution,” Adam said in an interview. “The more air you can mix with it by causing the air to churn, the more you’re going to reduce the smell.”
Another way in which Adam said he would reduce the smell was by building a 10-foot manure pit instead of the 8-foot pit typically required by the Department of Natural Resources. The additional depth will allow Adam to pump the pit only once a year instead of twice. He said pumping the pit is when the surrounding area can most easily smell the manure odor.
Batavia resident Deb Chance began Friday’s meeting by telling the audience the purpose of the meeting was to ask Adam to reconsider constructing the hog confinements. During the meeting, Chance asked Adam if he would be willing to stop his construction plans if enough people told him to. Adam said he would not.
Adam said he was doing everything in his power, including going above and beyond DNR regulations, to limit the impact of the hog confinement buildings on the local population.
Ben Ogle, who attended Friday’s meeting, said he was most worried about the hog confinement buildings causing the surrounding houses to drop in value, including his own. He lives about one mile south of Batavia and about one-quarter to one-half mile from one of the confinement buildings.
Debbie Swope, who also lives within a half-mile of one of the proposed sites, is worried about what the hog operation will do to the roads. Adam said his operation would add four trucks per week to the traffic on those gravel roads.
Swope said some of the gravel roads in her neighborhood are almost impassable because of the truck traffic.
“I’m also concerned about the property values dropping,” Swope said.
Garry Klicker lives 20 miles south of Batavia in Davis County. He attended Friday’s meeting because he’s worried about the adverse health effects stemming from the odors.
Klicker was diagnosed with environmentally induced asthma in the fall of 2012. He said his condition is so acute that he has to hold his breath when he drives by animal confinement buildings.
“I have 20,000 hogs within four miles of my house,” he said. “I can’t leave my house and go anywhere without driving by a major confinement.”
Klicker said he thinks the solution to the problem is to stop building large hog confinements.
Nick Adam, Shawn’s father, said in an interview after the meeting that the confinements would help the area’s economy.
“What do we do in these small towns to bring jobs to our community?” he said. “We’re not going to bring in Microsoft here, are we? We’re an agricultural community. We’ve got to expand on what we have here.”
Nick Biggs of Oakville Feed and Grain in Ottumwa joined Shawn Adam at the front of the room to answer questions about the proposed hog confinements. Shawn Adam said he invited Biggs to speak because he is knowledgeable about hog confinements and has experience meeting with the public to discuss them.
Biggs fielded a question from the audience about why the hog confinements had to be built near Batavia. Biggs said hog confinements have to be built somewhere and Iowa is an ideal place for them.
“Southwest Kansas just doesn’t work,” he said. “You need to raise the hogs where the food is.”