Trade Lake residents packed the town hall meeting room last week, with most of them voicing opposition to a proposed hog farm in the town.
“Those meetings usually have maybe seven people,” Paul Lammert said. “There was well over 100 people at this meeting to hear about the factory pig farm.”
Lammert said there was “overwhelming opposition” to the proposed farm from those at the meeting.
At the meeting, residents expected to hear information on the proposed farm and then have a vote on the farm. They did get to vote, and the results were firmly against. However, residents were told that their vote may be irrelevant.
The proposed farm is being called a “factory pig farm” by some and has some residents worried. It is known as a concentrated animal feeding operation or CAFO. Some issues brought up at the meeting was run off from the manure, airborne bacteria, overall smell of the farm and decreasing property value.
Frederick Painter was at the meeting, which lasted almost three hours, Thursday evening.
“People were angry. They felt hornswoggled, is how I would put it,” Painter said.
“With all of the sows they are planning to have there, there is a chance they will have thousands of gallons of liquid manure,” Painter hypothesized. “In my opinion that cannot be good for the watershed.”
Painter said the representative Jeff Sauer from Clear View Solutions Group gave a brief overview of the proposed farm. He added when Sauer was asked about a remediation plan if something were to go wrong, “(Sauer) kept saying ‘don’t be so negative.’”
Trade Lake Chairman Jim Melin told the Sentinel this entire process has gone step-by-step to be approved.
“Sauer contacted us to get a CAFO in Trade Lake and we got him on the agenda at our January meeting,” Melin said. “It’s all there in the minutes. He spoke at the meeting and answered a few questions and nobody said anything.”
There has been a lot of speculation in the town about Melin making financial gains from the barn and he says all he did was sell the land.
“I sold him the land, but I’m not getting any kickbacks on it,” Melin said. “Is that me making financial gains from this? Am I not allowed to sell land as a citizen?”
Melin said there is a potential for 15 to 20 jobs to be added with the proposed farm with the potential of $1.5 million in salaries for men and women to be working in a very clean environment and all workers hired will be local.
He added that Trade Lake will be proud of this facility and the farmers want and that the land is already zoned for agriculture as A1.
“(Sauer) said they were planning on having 7,500 sows and 200 boars and that they expect 30 piglets per sow per year,” Painter explained. This would be on a 35-acre parcel of land on Highway 48.
There is an online petition that has already gained over 500 signatures in opposition to the proposed farm. Painter has reached out to members of the County Board and they have begun getting information on the proposed farm.
Melin said the next step in the process is getting the CAFO approved by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and then hold a public hearing for the proposed farm.
“The DNR is going to watch this thing like a hawk,” Melin stated. “They are not going to let the hog farm pollute the water system or lakes in the area.”
Melin added the manure will be handled by a licensed professional, the proposed barn will have a million-dollar air filtration system and “It’s something good for Burnett County.”
Lammert shared his main concerns after saying he is not a fan of when government steps in and starts placing regulations on citizens.
“I feel the government should act in a way that is beneficial to all,” Lammert told the Sentinel. “Not in a way that is beneficial to one group and harms another.”