Last evening, I attended the Trade Lake Township Board meeting. The topic, which brought an overflow crowd, was the building of a 7,500-sow farrowing farm in section 7 of Trade Lake. Representatives of Cumberland LLC were on hand to answer questions about their facility.
This massive pig facility is projected to add 15 new jobs in Burnett County. Cumberland LLC may or may not purchase their feed from Burnett Dairy or from local farmers. There is no guarantee that the grain prices will increase for local farmers.
The down-side seems staggering. In other areas, where a similar facility has been installed, real estate values have dropped within a wide radius of the facility. They estimate a need for at least 15,000 gallons of water per day coming from wells. While we are blessed with adequate ground water, it isn’t known what this kind of stress will place on our aquifer. Infrastructure such as local roads will have more large truck traffic and will deteriorate more quickly. A next-door organic farmer of this proposed pig farm has already been told he will have to drill new wells to continue organic farming. He can’t afford to make those changes.
While new technology may reduce odor, the pig manure will be applied to local fields. To me, the biggest unknown is how this volume of pig manure will affect the quality of our drinking water, rivers and lakes. At our meeting, a vote was taken to require an environmental impact study. Yet a moratorium on the approval and construction process would be met with a legal action by Cumberland LLC. The process is too far along to vote on a moratorium.
How did this process get too far along? Apparently, there was a Trade Lake Town Board meeting in January when this facility was first proposed. Why didn’t we Trade Lake Township taxpayers get notice of such an important meeting along with our tax statements? How can the process get “too far along” in three short months? Finally, we wouldn’t have known now about this meeting and the hog facility if it hadn’t been for Ramona Moody. She sent out notice to neighbors of the proposed facility (we have land within ½ mile). Thanks Ramona.