Online Staff Report
LA CROSSE, Ill. — Opposition is mounting in response to the proposed construction of an 18,000-head factory hog confinement by Junction Acres, LLC, near the town of La Crosse in Hancock County, Illinois.
The Hancock County Board did not elect to have a public hearing on the matter until local residents filed a petition with 75 gathered signatures, forcing them to have one. After the hearing, there will be a vote by the board to issue a nonbinding recommendation to the Illinois Department of Agriculture for or against the project.
Saving Our Rural Environment (SORE), a local citizens group, has grave concerns about the proposal. The facility is associated with Professional Swine Management (PSM) of Carthage, which carries with it a poor environmental track record at many of its other factory farms across the state.
The company has been involved with a number of new hog confinement projects in the area, including Shamrock Acres, LLC, near the town of Industry. While PSM disassociated itself with the Shamrock Acres proposal prior to its McDonough County Board pubic hearing, the company does not appear to be deterred from expanding its factory farm enterprise in the area in the face of public resistance.
“The poor track record of PSM and CAFOs in general causes serious concern for many of us in Hancock County,” said Angela Markey, a neighbor of the proposed Junction Acres site. “A recent hearing in an adjacent county for their South Morgan Acres hog facility near the town of Raritan provided little information to the public, yet they asked the public to ‘trust them to be good neighbors.’”
CAFOs and their waste application methods routinely release dangerous antibiotic resistant bacteria and hundreds of toxic pollutants into the environment. Research indicates that neighboring residents, especially the young, elderly and immune compromised, routinely suffer negative health impacts from such pollution.
SORE is also concerned about the impacts the facility will have to a nearby spring-fed well, groundwater depletion, property values and their quality of life. In addition, the proposal is dangerously close to the La Moine River, which can be impacted by polluted runoff.
The county public informational hearing on Junction Acres, LLC, will be held at the University of Illinois Extension Building, 550 N. Madison in Carthage, Ill., at 6 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2012. A press conference will be hosted by SORE immediately prior to the hearing. Citizens and experts will be on hand to discuss its impacts to the area. Details on the press conference will be announced at a later date.