- Associated Press - Sunday, April 13, 2014

BURLINGTON, Iowa (AP) - The number of hog feeding businesses in southeast Iowa could grow quickly if Des Moines County officials approve all the proposed projects.

County officials are considering five different proposals to build animal feeding operations that could hold up to 2,500 hogs, the Burlington Hawk Eye reported (https://bit.ly/1jCwCcs ). The county is already home to 24 confined animal feeding operations.

Jeff Prier, of the state Department of Natural Resources, said Des Moines County likely has room for more hog-feeding operations.

“Des Moines County is not very hog dense,” Prier said.

An Iowa company called Agri-Way Partners is behind three of the five proposed hog feeding operations. Company spokesman Mark Wilkerson said the firm is owned by 22 poultry farms near Wayland.

One of the major players in the growth of hog-feeding businesses is Cargill, which is one of the largest pork producers. The company has hog-processing facilities near Ottumwa, Iowa, and Beardstown, Ill., and the company is developing more of its own hog-feeding operations.

Cargill spokesman Michael Martin said pork production needs to be expanded because of the porcine virus that has killed several million hogs. And right now, demand for bacon and other pork products is high.

“There’s bacon ice cream, bacon everything,” Martin said, adding that Cargill is optimistic about the long-term demand for pork.

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