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Published: Saturday, 4/2/2005

Wood County could get 4th large dairy farm

BY JENNIFER FEEHAN
BLADE STAFF WRITER

PORTAGE, Ohio - Soil and water testing is being done on a site about five miles east of here for what could become the fourth large-scale dairy farm proposed in Wood County.

Cecilia Conway, spokesman for Wauseon-based Vreba-Hoff Dairy Development, said a family interested in building a 1,500-cow dairy at the site has an option to purchase about 120 acres there.

She said it probably would be at least another week before soil and water tests are completed and the company can determine whether the site would be adequate for the dairy.

Word of the proposed dairy spread quickly among neighbors and others fearful that such large-scale livestock operations could result in health and environmental problems.

Dave Housholder, a trustee with Wood County Citizens Opposed to Factory Farms, said his property is just 2 1/2 miles west of the Bloomdale-Portage road site.

He said that as more becomes known about the possible impacts of the large dairies, companies like Vreba-Hoff want to build them as quickly as possible.

Groups like the Wood County citizens' organization have called for a moratorium on any new large dairies in Ohio.

They contend the dairies reduce property values, hurt water quality and supply, cause odor problems, destroy roads, and cause other health risks.

Mr. Housholder said he expects concerned property owners to turn out for the Portage Township trustees' meeting at 7 p.m. Monday to raise the issue.

Currently, only one such dairy is in operation in Wood County - the 690-cow Manders Dairy near Weston - although two other farms are in the development stage.

The Ohio Department of Agriculture is reviewing applications for permits to build and operate a 1,765-cow dairy just west of Jerry City in Portage Township.

Last year, the agriculture department approved permits for a 925-cow dairy on Cygnet Road in Jackson Township, but construction never began after the Belgian family that planned to build the dairy dropped its plans.

Ms. Conway said the permits could transfer to another owner, but so far nothing has been finalized.

The state also is reviewing an application by Manders Dairy to expand its operation to 1,600 cows.

Contact Jennifer Feehan at:

jfeehan@theblade.com

or 419-353-5972.



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