Proposed Hog Farm Stirs Debate in Bayfield County

Dan Romano
February 13, 2015 01:06 AM

A proposed hog farm in northwestern Wisconsin has stirred a major debate amongst officials and citizens.

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On Wednesday, a representative from Reicks View Farms, based in Iowa, spoke at a public forum in Washburn on the possibility of creating a large hog farm in the Town of Eileen. Although behind-the-scenes discussions about the proposed Concentrated Animal Farming Operation, CAFO for short, began in October, Wednesday was the first time that a representative presented plans publicly.

Over 100 people from Bayfield County and the surrounding area packed the county board room not only hear what the representative had to say, but also to express concerns on the proposed hog farm.

The proposed site in Eileen would be called Badgerwood CAFO, and it would be home to nearly 26,000 hogs.

Gene Noem, the representative that spoke on behalf of Reicks View farms, said, "The hogs in Wisconsin will be replacement hogs for the main farm in Iowa."

However, just the idea of having a major hog farm so close to Lake Superior has worried many of the local residents.

Even fellow hog farmers like Washburn resident Blaise Sopiwnik is one of the skeptics of the large hog ranch. He says of the site, "This is an impactful thing to the Bay area. It's really an important issue, both for the lake and small farmers like myself."

In an overwhelming response, person after person spoke in front of the Bayfield County Board against the proposal of the hog farm. In fact, the majority of those that spoke were in favor of a 2 year moratorium that would not only put the development on hold, but it would also give time for questions that residents have to be answered.

Many of the concerns that residents have involve ground pollution and water runoff. The 900 acre site located at the corner of Curry and Franzel Roads in Eileen is near the headwaters of the Fish Creek Watershed, a major waterway that empties into the Chequamegon Bay and Lake Superior 8 miles away.

Noem stated at the forum that the proposed Badgerwood CAFO would create, "...on the high end, 6.5 million gallons of manure a year, and that manure would then be used to feed newly planted grass and corn crops."

At the meeting, Noem stated to the concerned critics, "We are proud of our record and we will keep a pristine record in Wisconsin."

A decision to allow the permit by the will be made next Wednesday by the Bayfield County Board.


Dan Romano

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