As Hog Production Expands in Minnesota, Disputes Arise Over Air Quality

Josephine Marcotty reported on Friday at the Minneapolis Star Tribune Online that, “Neighbors engaged in a pitched battle against a big hog feedlot in Goodhue County say that four other facilities owned by the same company may have routinely violating state air standards over a five-week period this summer.

“Using a hand-held air quality monitor, neighbors took turns checking the air just outside six hog facilities owned by Kohlnhofer Farms in southeast Minnesota for a total of 15 hours. During that time, they said they found the air frequently exceeded maximum emissions levels for hydrogen sulfide.

“It shows that ‘there is little or no enforcement of state feedlot air quality rules, and it’s up to citizens to determine that there is a problem,’ said Katie Doody of the Land Stewardship Project, a farm and rural community advocacy group that has joined local residents in opposition to the proposed 4,700-hog facility in Zumbrota Township.”

The Star Tribune article indicated that, “The company said in a statement that its preliminary review of the group’s air monitoring results show that they ‘do not show any violations.

“‘This study is little more than a thinly veiled attempt to use incomplete and questionable data to create supposed air quality concerns by intentionally misreading applicable health and legal standards,’ the company said.

“The proposed hog farm, Circle K Farms, is one of several large animal feedlots in the state that have generated fierce opposition in their communities. While officials from the livestock industry say that such conflicts are the exception, the growth in the number of increasingly large hog facilities in Minnesota may be driving the controversy.”

Ms. Marcotty added that, “Hog production in the state nearly doubled between 2006 and 2014, according the Minnesota Department of Agriculture. And the number has continued to grow in recent years as operators in Iowa and other states seek less dense regions to expand and escape the risk of infectious livestock disease.”

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