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A.J. Bos sells ravaged megadairy site in Jo Daviess County

December 12, 2012

Staff Report

WARREN, Ill. — Dec. 7, lawyers for the partially constructed megadairy near Nora, Ill., filed documents at the Jo Daviess County Courthouse to record the sale of the facility site, land A.J. Bos left in unfarmable condition. This filing marks the disposal of the last two parcels of land originally purchased as the site for two 5,500-head animal factories.

Sold this week, this once-pristine farmland now bears the scars of Bos’s failed attempt to build one of the two factories — a 4-acre cracked silage pad, foundations for six of the eight 1,000-foot-long barns, fractured walkways that failed long before thousands of cows trod upon their surfaces, a partially-built milking parlor, and several half-dug manure ponds deeply gutted from erosion.

To view these features of the devastated site, search Google Maps for 12504 E. Canyon Road, Nora, Ill., and scroll up (north). These recent satellite images also show crop lines in alfalfa fields caused by fractured bedrock and shallow topsoil. These fields are due west of the megadairy and east of Illinois Route 78. This fractured bedrock (karst), prevalent throughout northwest Illinois, would have allowed some of the 100-million gallons of manure produced annually at the site to seep into and contaminate the aquifer, which is the sole source of drinking water for local residents.

Danielle Diamond, attorney for the Illinois Citizens for Clean Air and Water and executive director of the Socially Responsible Agriculture Project, said: “This is a true David and Goliath story. Never before in my work with communities trying to protect themselves from the devastating impacts of large industrial animal factories have I seen a group of people successfully stop construction after groundbreaking. HOMES’s commitment to stand up for their rights against all odds, and against one of the most powerful corporate agri-business industries in the country, will inspire others standing in their shoes.”

HOMES stands for Helping Others Maintain Environmental Standards, a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt, pro-agriculture group of farmers and citizens dedicated to protecting family farms, rural communities, human health, and the environment by promoting sustainable agriculture and conserving natural resources.

Bos originally purchased 1,401 acres of prime farmland in the spring of 2008 for approximately $6,500 per acre. Over the past year, he has sold all of the tillable land until only the 326 acres where the megadairy was being built remained. Just last month, Bos settled a lawsuit with the Illinois Attorney General, who was requesting he pay a $250,000 fine. According to the terms of the settlement, Bos promised to abandon the site, allowing him to sell the property and leave the state.

The sale of this land at $4,900 per acre is approximately a half million dollars less than what Bos paid for it, adding to the millions of dollars he has already lost on this poorly sited and poorly planned project. The low price reflects the damage inflicted on the land by the construction and foreshadows the investment the land’s new owners will need to make to restore these parcels to productive farmland.

Very recently, Bos purchased an industrial animal factory called Valley View Dairy in Bruce, S.D. According to published reports, Bos plans to expand the facility from 2,100 to 3,500 head, an expansion that has Bruce-area residents very concerned about the safety of their community. Bos may also be part owner of another industrial animal facility in Wisconsin.

From the Dec. 12-18, 2012, issue

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