GREENVILLE – The room was overflowing at the Darke County Commissioner’s Office Monday night as concerned Greenville Township residents came out to a public meeting held by the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) as part of the permitting process for the Arnold Road Farm, a proposed swine finishing facility.
The facility would be owned and operated by Rodney Drew, Ric Drew, Richard Drew and Randall Drew. It would be located on Arnold Road between Beanblossom and Children’s Home-Bradford Roads and situated in Greenville Township, just northwest of Greenville in the Upper Great Miami Watershed.
The facility’s owners have applied for a Permit to Install (PTI) and Permit to Operate (PTO), which are both in the draft stages. According to ODA spokesperson Brett Gates, the Drews initiated Monday’s public meeting knowing the interest in the facility. The meeting was strictly for public participation allowing attendees that wished to speak three minutes to share their views.
First to speak was Roger Van Frank, Director of the Darke County Park District, sharing the history and mission of the park district. Van Frank shared continued plans of an expanded trail system in the county that will connect to existing trails.
“…A portion of the trail will border the land on both sides of the Arnold Road property. Our trails have a positive impact on the villages and communities both economically and socially,” said Van Frank. “…Our hope is that good stewardship of the Arnold Road Farms, LLC through best practices is maintained and not only by this new confined animal operation but also by all. The park district depends on their support also. It is vital to the preservation of the state’s scenic river for Greenville Creek and the surrounding watersheds that these best practices are taught and become part of the everyday standards expected by the ownership of the Arnold Road Farms.”
Steve Shawltree, who lives about 1 1/2 miles from the proposed facility, and has an education and work background in agriculture and says he knows the struggles farmers face.
“I look at this facility as a challenge to our culture and our society. Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFF) have been thrust upon us by corporations,” said Shawltree. “They have enticed farmers to pick that drum up and beat that drum with the idea that we’re going to help feed the world and also cut down on the use of artificial fertilizers and the cost of production.”
Alex and Tonya Mangen stood up and spoke in opposition of the proposed facility citing concerns of the smell, flies, water well contamination and the open compost drawing more coyotes to the area.
“I’ve raised pigs, I’ve worked on a sow farm. I’ve done this for 25 years and I don’t want these in my back yard,” said Alex. “…It’s going to hurt our land value.”
“I’m against it, for the simple fact is I know all the damage that can be done and all the coyotes will take kid’s lives, animal’s lives. I’ve seen it already,” said Tonya. “It’s something I don’t want in my back yard and the thing I don’t want the most is the people that have been there 30, 40, 50, 60 years that have built there, why should they have to suffer now?”
Brenda Stump and her husband just moved to the area a year ago.
“We don’t want to have to put up with the flies. We don’t want to have to put with the smell. It’s not right for us to have to do that,” said Stump. “It will lower our property value if we decide we want to sell. Nobody is going to want to buy there because of that stink. I don’t want it, I’m against it and I hope they don’t get the permit.”
Dr. Daniel Berger, who’s been vocal about his opposition from the beginning, has lived on Beanblossom Road for 27 years.
“I think everyone should recognize here that this is a predominately political issue and not a Department of Agriculture issue,” said Berger. “This issue of hog farms in this area has been going on for a number of months, the location has moved, but the issue is the same.”
Berger’s concern was regarding effects from the hog farms manure and permitting and regulation. He claimed that one of the property’s owned by the Drews has the capacity for 8,000 hogs and sits over a sole-source aquifer, part of the Great Miami River Aquifer system.
Aleene Cromwell, a Darke County Realtor, who’s sold properties in the area, recommended concerned citizens contact their local legislators with concerns.
“When farms of this magnitude go in, property values do tend to go down,” said Cromwell “Sometimes it’s not actual, it’s what’s perceived. Sometimes the actual problems are not as great as we perceive them to be, but here again, we don’t know what it’s [hog farm] going to do. We don’t know what the smell is going to be like, we don’t know what the insect problems are going to be….I love hogs, I love bacon, but this not the right place for a hog farm.”
Other participants agreed with speakers or submitted written comments.
According to the ODA, a PTI is a license issued by the director of the Ohio Department of Agriculture to farmers who are in the planning stages of developing or modifying a CAFF. This permit is the first step in the process of operating a CAFF in the state and its purpose is to help assure the proposed building, its facilities and location will adequately support such an operation.
The facility would consist of two proposed swine finishing barns, which would house 4,000 swine weighing more than 55 pounds each, for a total capacity of 8,000 head. The swine barns would each have a concrete pit below the floor to provide 1,767,119 gallons of storage for liquid swine manure, or over a year’s worth of storage. The facility would also have 4,400 cubic feet of solid mortality compost material storage, or well over a year’s worth or storage.
A PTO is a license issued by the ODA to farmers who are in the planning stages of developing or modifying a CAFF. This permit is the second step in the process of operating a CAFF in the state. Its purpose is to help assure the proposed facility has developed appropriate best management plans in the areas of manure management, insect and rodent control, animal mortality and emergency response.
Within the draft PTO, a manure management plan is provided which outlines different inspections and monitoring activities that must be completed. Each year the facility would produce an estimated 2,027,200 gallons of liquid manure and 42 tons of mortality compost material. All of the mortality compost material and 75 percent of the liquid manure would be land applied under the control of the facility on 909 acres of farm land in a crop rotation of corn and soybeans. The remaining 25 percent of the liquid manure would be distributed to and utilized by a cooperating farmer to recycle the organic nutrients as an alternative to commercial fertilizers on 300 acres of farm land in a crop rotation if corn and soybeans.
According to ODA the following plans are required: a Detailed Insect and Rodent Control Plan to minimize the presence and negative effects of insects and rodents; a Mortality Management Plan for the disposal of livestock (Arnold Road Farm proposes to use composting as the primary method); an Emergency Response Plan to ensure that emergencies are handled quickly and efficiently to maintain safety of the environment, wildlife and water supplies and resources; and an Operating Record that provides all forms and information that must be maintained by the facility to show compliance with ODA’s rules and the permit.
Interested parties may still submit written comments concerning the permit to: Ohio Department of Agriculture, Division of Livestock Environmental Permitting (DLEP), 8995 East Main Street, Reynoldsburg, Ohio 43068; 614-387-0470. Comments must be received no later than 5 p.m. on Monday, March 7.