“We’ve been putting so much effort into our home,” Cooper says. “I’m just an old lady trying to enjoy the rest of my life [and] we could lose the equity – our retirement.”
The proposed Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO), on Princeville-Jubilee Road, would include a 2,000-square-foot barn about 100 yards from a stream flowing into Princeville and would generate more than 1 million gallons of manure retained in an 8-foot pit until it’s hosed to fields via ditches, according to Nick Biggs of TriOak Foods, the Iowa corporation partnering with property owner Eleanor Basehoar. Also, hundreds of hogs usually die annually in CAFOs and are “composted” in open stalls beneath sawdust.
Matt Price of the Peoria County Farmers and Citizens for Responsible Agriculture (PCFCRA) said citizens are concerned about the amount of water CAFOs use, the effect on the tax base, and adequate preparation for using manure. Indeed, the amount of waste CAFOs generate is staggering, according to the International Water Association – about 40 times the waste treated in wastewater treatment facilities, and the urine and feces can drain or leach into groundwater, according to Sarah Graddy of the Environmental Working Group.
For her part, Basehoar claims the CAFO “will support jobs in the community pertaining to the construction of the barn, milling and delivery of feed, and transporting the pigs,” but PCFCRA disputes that, saying that construction, feed, veterinary services, medicine, etc. would come from outside the area, and “any tax gains will be more than offset by the reduction in property values,” Price says.
Also, the CAFO could double in size in two years with no new permit required, the local group says.
However, two avenues may be used to deal with the proposed CAFO: local zoning laws and government regulations protecting streams, such as the one that runs through the site. Princeville has zoning jurisdiction 1½ miles outside its boundaries under Illinois’ Municipal Code and communities’ zoning ordinances, and the Illinois Livestock Management Facilities Act doesn’t preempt local zoning. But Princeville Village President Jeff Troutman – who’s also voiced concerns with CAFOs’ odors, negative effects on property values, and water – says Princeville (population 1,696) doesn’t have the budget to battle big corporations and industry lobbyists.
As to that stream, Illinois Pollution Control Board regulations clearly state, “No new livestock management facility or new livestock waste-handling facility shall contain within its boundaries any stream or other surface waters except small temporary accumulations of water occurring as a direct result of precipitation.” Further, the Frank & West engineering firm of Springfield in a plot plan for the project submitted as part of Basehoar’s application to the Illinois Department of Agriculture showed the stream and noted, “Surface water flow direction is north and east” toward Princeville.
State Rep. Ryan Spain (R-73rd Dist.) said, “I share [citizens’] concerns,” and State Sen. Chuck Weaver (R-37th Dist.) added, “We are always very concerned about the quality of life of our citizens.” Peoria County Administrator Scott Sorrel commented, “State law does not allow us a voice in this instance. What we can do moving forward is work with our legislators to change the statute.”
To that end, State Sen. and Assistant Majority Leader Dave Koehler (D-46th Dist.) this spring introduced Senate Bill 1481, which would address counties’ influence on CAFOs. It proposes that counties be empowered to make binding recommendation to the state Department of Agriculture instead of merely advisory suggestions, and “the Department shall deny any permit to construct if the county recommends that the facility not be constructed.”
In Princeville, Price says, “We are a farming community. We are not against farmers or farming. A lot of us grew up on the family farm. But, make no mistake. This is not the family farm. This is a factory – a factory without the jobs but with the hazardous processes.”