GREENVILLE — The Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) has given the go-ahead for the operation of a proposed hog farm northwest of Greenville.
In a public notice dated March 18, ODA announced it had issued a final Permit to Install and a final Permit to Operate to the owners of the Arnold Road hog farm. The owners of the farm are Rodney Drew, Ric Drew, Richard Drew, and Randall Drew.
Neighbors near the proposed site have raised a number of objections to the farm. Among their concerns are the effect of the hogs on land and water quality, the smell created by hog manure, an increase in rodents and insects, a drop in the value of surrounding properties, wear and tear on local roads, and a contention that the owners are breaking the farm into smaller portions in order to skirt environmental and agricultural regulations intended for large agricultural ventures.
ODA received public comments from 21 individuals and/or couples regarding the farm. The Department of Agriculture Responsive Summary can be viewed online at http://agri.ohio.gov/public_docs/Lepp_Farms/ArnoldRoad/lepp_RS_ArnoldRoad.pdf
Despite the protestations, the agency confirmed the planned facilities fall within the state’s guidelines in terms of size, number of animals, the disposition of animal waste, and safeguards against land and water contamination.
ODA stated the farm will be subject to “two routine inspections” per year. If there are complaints or concerns, ODA inspectors will perform “additional partial inspections.”
The agency said inspections by ODA occur “much more frequently than required by the [U.S. Environmental Protection Agency], which recommends one inspection every five years.”
As it regards smell complaints, ODA said, “Odor is something that will be evaluated during routine ODA inspections and complaint investigations. Inspectors would determine if the permit was being followed and if the odor was occurring as a result of the producer not following Best Management Practices. If the permits are not followed, the farm could be subject to an ODA enforcement action.”
ODA noted it could not comment on certain complaints raised by the public, stating it has not been given any statutory authority to regulate “property values, air emissions, use of antibiotics/growth hormones, or other agency’s rules outside of ODA’s regulatory authority.”
Though the agency has given its approval, the final permit may be appealed to the Environmental Review Appeals Commission. Parties wishing to appeal will have until 5 p.m. April 18 to make their case.