Two sides butt heads over proposed industrial-scale hog farm

A battle is brewing in McDonough County over a proposal to build a CAFO southeast of Industry.

"We are all neighbors down there. I think it's good in this situation to have a public forum like this, and I think we should be able to come to an agreement," said Julie Terstripe, a resident near Industry.

Tuesday night, a standing room only crowd at WIU's Sandburg Theatre was far from an agreement on the proposed hog confinement. Shamrock Acres is the product of Larry O'Hearne, a family man backed with four generations of farming. He wants Shamrock Acres to house more than 18,000 pigs in a healthy and safe environment.

"From an animal science perspective, edible protein at a very reasonable cost. But we also have the emotion of, 'yes I want a cheap food source, but I don't want it raised in my backyard,'" said Mark Hoge, an animal science educator.

Many residents say that idea stinks.

"For me it was the smell. And if you haven't been exposed to the smell you won't believe it," said John Curtis, an area resident who's lived by hog confinements in the past.

Shamrock Acres spokesmen say they're working to place a tree buffer around the area for smell control. The farm would also use a controlled application of manure by injection. But that didn't appease some residents.

"For me, I have two kids with asthma and a business that will not work with the confinement in such close proximity," said Curtis.

Other residents in town welcome the hogs.

"We talk about living in a rural community and that is agriculture. Raising cattle, swine and sheep, I mean, that is rural America," said Hoge.

"I believe everyone should be able to try a business they like, as long as they follow the rules," said Terstripe.

In a press release issued by the Hancock County Farm Bureau President Joe Zumwalt and the Western Illinois Pork Producers President Matthew Starr, Zumwalt spoke of the need to support local farmers. In it Zumwalt said, "We understand that some people may be uncomfortable with how hog production is operated, but please try and understand that we as farmers, have not lost sight of the values that have always guided Illinois farmers-safe food, quality animal care and protection of our land, air and water." Click here to read that entire press release.

The McDonough County Voice has been reporting on this very public issue and they spoke with resident Ramona Cook about it.

This is not an isolated farm area, said Cook to Nathan Woodside with The Voice. This is a highly populated area ... Everyone out here, we think we live the good life. We don TMt have fancy houses. We don TMt seek profits as much as we seek quality of life. It TMs so ironic to us that our beautiful little paradise is going to be threatened by this factory-farm.

The Voice reports that according to research done by Cook, Shamrock Acres could affect as many as 65 occupied properties, including dozens of upper-middle class homes, businesses, cemeteries and parks.

The McDonough County Board has until August 23 to vote to oppose or recommend the facility's development to the Department of Agriculture...which could grant or deny the necessary permits. The final decision must be made by September 7.

Agriculture is very much a part of the midwest and just about everyone has an opinion on CAFOs in the Tri-States. What do you think ... should Shamrock Acres be built and the livestock industry be allowed to continue to grow in populated areas?

Take our poll below and take your opinion to our Facebook page ... we would love to use your comments in our newscast!