Community Members Meet to Discuss Potential Hog Facility

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CALLAWAY COUNTY - Members of a Callaway County community facing a potential new hog facility to be installed came together Tuesday evening to gather information about the facility and discuss their concerns.

Eichelberger Farms is set to purchase a large peice of land from Darren Horstmeier, a man who lives in the community. Eichelberger is set to build a three-building facility large enough to house more than 10,000 hogs. 

Community members had some questions answered directly at Tuesday's forum in Hatten McCredie Elementary School. 36 questions were read and answered from submissions prior to the meeting.

A professor at the University of Missouri read the answers to the questions on behalf of Eichelberger Farms, and said the company would not publish the answers, but would meet with individuals one-on-one. 

"We deserve those answers," one woman said to much applause. "Not one-on-one, not in a special meeting that no one can make because we're all working."

After the pushback, it was agreed the answers would be published. 

Questions included how animals would be contained and maintained, as well as the kind of antibiotics and steroids they would be given. Residents were also curious how the hogs' manure would be disposed of.

For some farmers, it will become fertilizer for their land. But some opposed to the development claimed an operation this largte could produce up to 10 million gallons of waste every year, and said the facility may not have the means to handle the load.

Those in favor of the development pointed out that the facility will help keep pork prices low, but the opposition rebutted. 

"We don't want cheap food, we want good food," one woman said, referring to the hormones and steroids that might be fed to animals to raise them at a lower cost. 

Another speaker shot down claims that hogs could be raised cheaper with a facility like this.

"Since 1985, 91% of Missouri hog producers are no longer in business," she said. "During that same time, I do know what the retail price of pork did - it went up 113%."

Residents said they were also concerned about waste spills and noxious smells coming from a possible facility. 

Those in favor of the development said the facility is designed to ensure that spills don't occur. 

One man said "all I can ask is that you all keep an open mind about this. The hog facility that I  manage, we converted out barns in 2007. We went to all deep pits. We didn't have one complaint from a neighbor." He added that Eichelberger Farms runs quality facilities.

Jeff Jones, the leader of the meeting, said he was happy with how the discussion went during the 2.5 hour meeting, and said he was glad the information got out to the public.