The Brown County Planning Commission turned down two hog-CAFO-related applications Tuesday.
Wolff Family Genetics raises around 50 show pigs at a time. Owner Jeff Wolff wanted to expand his operation three miles north of Bath to hold “60 mature sows, two herd boards, 160 developing gilts and boars and 400 baby pigs“. Wolff also wanted a variance on the half-mile (2,640-foot) setback to allow building his new barns 2,300 feet from a neighboring residence. Brown County Commission chair and Planning Commission member Rachel Kippley, herself a farmer, explained her simple neighborly rationale for joining the 7–0 rejection of Wollf’s applications:
“There were four neighbors (and one commercial business) within the half-mile, and they only got two of the five to sign affidavits to go forward with it,” said Rachel Kippley, Brown County commission chairwoman.
…Kippley said it was a difficult decision for the planning commission.
“I know they all support ag. They wanted to find a way to allow those folks to do the show pigs they want to do, but it just can’t happen where it’s at,” she said [Shannon Marvel, “Planning Commission Denies Permit Applications for Bath Area Hog Operation,” Aberdeen American News, 2017.09.20].
Now don’t get the idea that Brown County is anti-CAFO. Our commission recently approved the Hutterville Colony’s application to expand its hog operation, raising the maximum hog count from 2,400 to nearly 10,000. But Jeff Wolff isn’t thinking about that. He’s lambasting Brown County for opposing livestock operations:
Brown County SD proved tonight that the people who sit on County Planning and Zoning board are the reason that livestock operations looking to grow in SD look elsewhere to build. Then they wonder why they have no tax base to maintain infrastructure. Apparently they are all vegetarians or maybe they think their pork chops, bacon and steaks come from the grocery store. Total idiots! [Jeff Wolff, Facebook post, 2017.09.19, 23:45 CDT]
With corn at $2.66 a bushel today and the attitude that many in Brown County have against livestock operations i do not feel sorry for them a damm bit! I hope they feel the hurt for a long time and that it affects those up and down main street as well. Brown county is the leading corn and soybean producing county in the state, the county is home to two ethanol plants and one close by in a neighboring county, one soybean processor and a new soybean crush plant under construction that will be one of the largest soy plants in the AGP system, a Beef Processor who is trying to get to full capacity. And yet with all of these resources the county ranks 33rd in the state for Cattle and Calves and 27th in state for hogs. There is something drastically wrong with this picture. Visit any small town in the county and the almost resemble a gosht town. Why because one of the main drivers of the economic engine in rural america is lacking here LIVESTOCK! If you want to see what livestock production does in terms of vibrant business activity in small rural towns travel to most any community in northwest Iowa and you will find main street alive and well and full of cars and pickups any day of the week. Livestock facilities contribute greatly to the tax base that is so badly needed to support our schools and maintain our infrastructure! WAKE UP BROWN COUNTY! You need to be working hard to bring operations to the county not driving them away!! [Jeff Wolff, Facebook post, 2017.09.20, ~noon CDT]
No word yet on Facebook on whether Wolff Family Genetics plans to move out of Brown County.