- Associated Press - Tuesday, June 17, 2014

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - A group is opposing a West Branch man’s application to build a nearly 2,500-head hog confinement facility along the Johnson-Cedar county line, citing concerns over the impact to air and water quality in the area.

Ray Slach wants to add the building to one of his existing swine operations, the Iowa City Press-Citizen reported (https://icp-c.com/1iEuNcF ). The project would bring the concentrated animal feeding operation’s capacity to more than 4,800 head of swine.

Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, which describes itself as a grassroots community organization, says the construction will have a negative environmental and economic impact.

“People have expressed concerns about their property values, the county roads, and the family farm rural economy in general,” CCI farm and environment organizer David Goodner said to The Associated Press.

A message left for Slach, who filed an application for a construction permit last month, was not immediately returned Tuesday.



“Agriculture at this scale, industrial agriculture, is not accountable to the local community politically, economically or morally,” said Suzan Erem, a group member and resident of rural West Branch. “This kind of agriculture has caused the disintegration of the rural community.”

The Johnson County Board of Supervisors will hold a public hearing Thursday morning to discuss the issue and collect input.

“We’ve talked to probably two dozen folks already and most of those are planning on attending Thursday’s meeting,” Goodner said. “It’s the single biggest issue our members care about in the state.”

Paul Petitti, a senior engineer for the state Department of Natural Resources, will make the final decision on a construction permit after the county files a final recommendation on the issue.

West Branch is about 10 miles east of Iowa City, though the facility is located in a rural area.

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Information from: Iowa City Press-Citizen, https://www.press-citizen.com/

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