Vernon County gives all-clear for hog farm

US - A proposed 2,400-head hog farm in southern Vernon County could start construction by the end of the month after the county board Tuesday turned down a moratorium on such operations.
calendar icon 8 August 2007
clock icon 3 minute read

The board voted 23-6 against halting all livestock operations between 500 and 1,000 animal units for six months.

The decision means Jeff and Bonnie Parr can go forward with plans for a 2,400-head hog operation in the town of Sterling near Retreat, Wisconsin.

The board did narrowly pass a livestock facility licensing ordinance that will tighten some guidelines on such operations, and voted to form a comprehensive planning commission to look at land use.

Jeff Parr said the five-month controversy over his hog farm was emotional but worth the fight.

“A lot of this I didn’t know was going to happen, which is maybe a good thing,” he said, “but I would go through it again.”

The board’s decision came despite 23 of 30 members of the audience speaking in favor of the moratorium.

The county’s Health Committee had recommended the moratorium to further study health concerns and air and water quality issues.

But once the board narrowly passed the animal siting ordinance Tuesday, supervisors put on the brakes.

“Once again, I will say if you want to talk moratorium, let’s shut everything down in Vernon County,” said supervisor Kevin Gobel. “Farmers I talked to are scared … and what’s next? You can’t pick corn with your combine after 10 o’clock at night?”

In the end, the legal battle the county likely would have faced may have killed the moratorium.

County Corporation Counsel Greg Lunde explained while the moratorium is “legally defensible,” it could be challenged on such grounds as right-to-farm legislation, constitutional issues and local versus state issues.

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