Bayfield County Residents Protest Against Large Hog Farm Proposal

Demonstrators Worry About Manure Polluting Lake Superior

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Lovers of Lake Superior are banding together and saying ‘no’ to a huge hog farm looking to call northern Wisconsin home.

An Iowa pig farmer has his sights set on a piece of land in Eileen Wis., but locals are worried about the millions of pounds of manure that they say will pollute nearby Lake Superior.

“Fresh clean water is so much more valuable to this planet than cheap bacon,” said protester, Mary Dougherty of Bayfield.

Bayfield County officials were welcomed by about 30 protesters Tuesday evening holding signs and chanting, “No crap near Lake Superior” and, “Family farms, not poop factories.”

The board had a few big decisions to make that will have an impact on the incoming hog farm, and protesters were hoping they could make a difference.

“This is not the end it’s just the beginning,” said Dougherty.

Reicks View Farm is looking to build a hog farrowing farm in Eileen which sits on the fish creek watershed just a few miles from Lake Superior.

The farm would be a place where piglets are born and raised for a few weeks then sent to Iowa.

“I have yet to find a community where 26,000 hogs have moved in and water pollution is not the direct result of the massive amounts of manure that these factory farms produce,” said Dougherty, quoting her research.

Scottie Sandstrom is the executive director of the Bayfield County Economic Development Corporation.

He and other city officials visited the pig farm in Iowa mid-January and said it’s a clean and highly regulated facility.

When complete, the farm would create about 30 permanent jobs.

“They know and want to be up here and to fit in and be good stewards of the land,” said Sandstrom. “I believe they’ll do that.”

Representatives from the farm have not talked openly about community concerns, but issued a statement stating, “We are exploring the potential construction of a swine operation in northern Wisconsin. If the company would move forward with the project there would be a permitting process that will include public comment and feedback. The company has no other comment at this time.”

The Reicks View Farm has already purchased about 560 acres of land approximately eight miles south of Ashland on the corner of Franzel Road and Curry Road.

According to the farm’s DNR application, they plan to put three large barns on the property.

Nearby dairy farmers say they’re all for the farm coming to the area.

Reicks has not stated why they have chosen to expand to Wisconsin, but protesters believe it’s because a virus spreading through Iowa is killing baby piglets, and moving somewhere secluded would be better for business.

“I do believe that they’ll be able to have an operation here,” said Sandstrom. “They’re going to do it by the law.”

“He’s not a farmer he’s a factory,” argued Dougherty. “His concern is to his fiduciary responsibility is to his bottom line it’s not to his community members.”

Tuesday evening, the Bayfield County board voted to ban aerial spraying of manure, and adopted laws on odor control and other regulations for the farm.

Protesters are asking the DNR to do an environmental impact statement before the farm starts construction.

If everything goes as planned farm construction could begin summer 2015.