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Letter to the editor: Good intentions may not be enough

Friday, October 4, 2013 - 12:01 am

At the Sept. 7 Steuben County Lakes Council meeting Mr. Werner outlined his plans for a 4,800-hog farm and answered questions. Here is what we heard him say:

K & D Contract Pork’s goal is to provide the safest possible food supply. When asked if he had researched impact to environment of a CAFO near lakes, he replied no.

Large fans will pull gases off manure pits and exhaust outside so the pigs will have fresh air. Concern from audience was expressed about the harmful gases that could impact human health in areas surrounding the farm.

2 million gallons of manure will be spread twice per year, and he can haul and apply the manure anywhere he wants in the area with owner permission. He further stated that any farmer can buy the manure and apply anywhere they want even if not associated with CAFO.

Manure will be hauled by tractor to fields close to hog barns, and a semi will be used for everything over 1.5 miles. He estimated it will take 100 semi loads for each manure application.

They do not test the manure for pharmaceuticals prior to land application.

He was asked what happens to the nitrogen, phosphorus, etc. in the manure when it is applied in the fall after the harvest. His answer was they could plant cover crops to absorb nutrients and then disc them into the ground in the spring.

His operation or the semi haulers will not be bonded.

The dead hog compost facility will be covered so rain can’t get in. When asked if buzzards, coyotes, etc., can get in, he stated it will always be open in the front.

Wet sawdust will cover the decaying hogs, there will be very little odor, even bones will break down, and decomposed matter will be spread on area fields.

Questions from the audience centered around potential harm to the environment, human health and recreational uses of our lakes. It was stated millions were spent to create the Steuben Lakes Regional Waste District so we can maintain and protect lake and drinking water quality from septic runoff. Area residents on the SLRWD sewer system are paying $80 a month to protect water quality and are not happy that a proposed CAFO may be allowed to apply 2 million gallons of untreated manure directly to fields around our pristine lakes and wetlands.

We don’t question Werner’s farming ability or good intentions, just the things he can’t control, like the weather, seepage into the ground water and air quality.

After Werner’s presentation, board members voted, 16-1 to approve a $5,000 pledge to Steuben Lakes Environmental Consortium, LLC to help fight the CAFO.

Allen Lefevre

Lake Gage, Steuben Lakes Environmental Consortium, LLC