Hog farm opponents hand over petition in hopes of new ordinance

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FULTON - The leader of the neighborhood group fighting a proposed hog facility met with Callaway County commissioners Monday to officially hand over the group's petition aimed at keeping the Eichelberger Farms out of the area. 

Jeff Jones handed over a petition containing 1,371 signatures against the development of a 10,000 hog confinement on County Road 227. Jones gave to document to County Commissioners Randy Kleindienst and Donald Kritzer, with whom Jones also discussed the idea of county intervention on the issue.

Jones and his group, "Friends of Responsible Agriculture," are hoping for a resolution to halt the construction of the 3-building facility until more information can be assessed.

"It confuses me," Jones said, "when people will talk about the building when they need to be talking about the waste removal. How many acres it's gonna be spread across," he said. "We're talking about thousands of acres the way I see it."

Jones asked how soon a decision on a resolution would be made and Kleindienst said while he was not comfortable with signing a resolution at this time, an answer on whether or not a resolution would happen might be available by the end of the month.

Jones said the commission will research a health ordinance that he hopes would make it more difficult for Iowa-based Eichelberger Farms to move into the area.

"We would definitely form a committee if we're gonna pass any ordinance," Kleindienst said.

Jones met with land-owners Darren and Gary Horstmeier, who are selling their land to Eichelberger Farms for the confinement, about the resolution and whether it would be beneficial for the community.

"The conversation was very short and they asked me to leave," Jones said. "The last conversation with Darren and me he said there was no resistance here. Well I have 1,371 signatures saying that there is."

Kleindienst said he called the Iowa county where Eichelberger is based and said he heard "nothing but encouraging things" about the company. He also said he toured a facility similar to the proposed Callaway County facility and said he had no concerns about the smell or the way it was operated.

Jones is concerned the facility would lower property value, contaminate the water table, and produce an unwanted atmosphere and smell.

At an open forum in June, supporters of the facility said it would bring jobs to the area and fertilizer for local farms.