Three years ago, a Hancock County farmer raised a stink with his plans to breed and raise nearly 7,500 hogs on his family's farm northeast of Findlay.
Cecil Boes, Jr., is again pursuing the project, but this time he is seeking the state oversight that critics had accused him of trying to avoid. "If anybody complains, all I can say is last time they said it would be all right if I got the permits and this time I got the permits," he said.
The Ohio Department of Agriculture is accepting public comments through 5 p.m. Thursday on draft permits to install and operate a swine gestation and farrowing facility by Lucky 7 Farms, LLC, that would accommodate up to 3,675 hogs weighing 55 pounds or more and 400 swine weighing less than 55 pounds.
The farm's location on Cass Township Road 215 is about a mile north of Mr. Boes' home. According to information from the state, the hog operation is expected to produce 2.7 million gallons of liquid manure a year, which would be temporarily stored in a deep pit at the facility and then applied to 1,145 acres of nearby farmland owned by the Boes family.
While Mr. Boes' plans in 2007 prompted concerns about negative health and environmental effects as well as drops in property values, the complaints have been quieter this time around.
Bill Schwaderer, spokesman for the Ohio Department of Agriculture's Livestock Environmental Permitting Program, said about 20 people attended a public hearing in Findlay last week regarding the Hancock County farm's permits.
Of those, two people made comments for consideration by the agriculture director, who is expected to make a decision on the permits in 30 days or so.
The difference, said Hancock County Commissioner Ed Ingold, is that this time around Mr. Boes is getting the permits.
"I don't think anybody, [commissioners] included, have anything against agriculture or hog farming or those types of multi-animal facilities as long as they're run properly, and we've got a number of them in the county already operating very well," he said. "We've had no complaints."
Three years ago, Mr. Boes proposed building three separate facilities, each housing 2,450 hogs, owned by three different family members. The plan appeared to sidestep state regulations that require permits for concentrated animal feeding operations with 2,500 swine or more.
Mr. Boes said he did not back away from his original plans because of the public outcry but for business reasons.
"It was never my intention to operate without a permit anyhow," he said. "The only reason we didn't get permits the first time was because the people I was working with didn't want to wait that time period. It's taken almost a year since we applied for permits to get it all done."
He said the agriculture department has been very thorough in its review of his plans.
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