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      Hog farm plan worries Callaway residents

      Callaway County residents say they are worried about the environmental and economic impacts of a proposed large-scale sow complex near Kingdom City.

      UPDATE: Members of the Horstmeier family say they attended Tuesday night??s town hall meeting. KRCG 13 erroneously reported they were not in attendance and regrets the error. Darren Horstmeier said he thought the meeting went a long way toward answering many people??s questions about the sow complex planned for his farm. He said he thought this would calm some residents?? fears about the implications of the project, though he added the project still faces opposition. ??Some people have legitimate concerns and some people just flat don??t want it,?? he said. At Tuesday night??s meeting, Callaway County residents presented a list of more than 30 questions about the project they wanted answered. Horstmeier said he has asked Eichelberger to provide written answers to all of them and is waiting for the company to respond.

      Original story: Supporters of a planned hog farm operation were hard to find at a packed Tuesday night town hall meeting.

      Dozens of Callaway County residents turned out for a panel discussion on a hog farm planned for what is currently Horstmeier Farms just west of Kingdom City. Iowa-based Eichelberger Farms plans to build and operate a sow complex on the property capable of hosting 7600 sows and 2720 swine.

      Many in the room opposed the idea, applauding those who spoke against it. Callaway County resident Barb Brazos said she had grave concerns about the animals' living conditions and the facility's potential impact on the environment and overall quality of life for those living nearby.

      "I don't want to have to live next door to this giant hog facility," she said.

      Larry Brown agreed, saying he thought hog farms caused more environmental problems than they are worth. In addition, he said small family farms are much better for the community because those farmers spend their profits at local businesses. Several panelists and audience members attacked the project as an example of corporate agriculture encroaching on family farms.

      No Eichelberger representatives attended Tuesday night's event, but a few spoke in favor of the facility. Don Lehenbauer, a Callaway County farmer who knows the Eichelberger family, told the crowd the Eicherlbergers "are not like Cargill" and the waste produced by the pigs would serve as valuable fertilizer. Lehenbauer highlighted the facility's below-building manure storage pits, saying he has pumped similar pits and has never discovered any runoff issues.

      Rep. Jay Houghton, a Martinsburg Republican who used to manage a hog farm in Audrain County, said the farm he worked at installed such pits in 2007. He said not only did neighbors not complain about the smell afterward, but the odor went down. Houghton said turing away from large-scale agriculture would mean higher food prices.

      "I hate to imagine what the price of pork would be if we were raising hogs the way we were 40 years ago," he said.

      Eichelberger Farms' web site shows the company currently has no operations outside of southeastern Iowa.