It’s a hot button topic for a lot of residents in southern Minnesota; a hog farm in Alden Township is hoping to double in size.
John Perschbacher wants to expand his hog finishing facility in Freeborn County, but first needs approval from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. Perschbacher wants to increase his farm from 2,400 swine to 5,000.
Tuesday evening at city hall, the MPCA presented their findings of their environmental review in something that is called an Environmental Assessment Worksheet.
The EAW is an information gathering tool that looks into the possible environmental implications of the farm expansion. The worksheet took into account already existing feedlots and covered site location details, nearby resources and other elements like soil type, water use and air and odor emissions.
Perschbacher says this expansion proposal has been in the works for a few years.
"I try to be as environmentally friendly as possible," Perschbacher said. "But if you’re going to have live stock, you’re going to have odor, there’s just no way to avoid it."
The project requires federal, state, and county permits – as well as a stamp of approval from the MPCA.
With this proposed hog farm expansion, residents are concerned with the environmental implications, and odor.
"With the number of miles we live from there," Alden Township resident Ebenezer Howe said. "Odor control is the biggest concern. Just like my wife was saying, how can something taste that good and smell that bad."
Under Minnesota Law, there are no regulations for odor, however they can regulate hydrogen sulfide and ammonia which can be causes of odor.
The MPCA is encouraging residents to submit written comments and questions if they have concerns or believe something has been overlooked in the Environmental Assessment Worksheet.
Written comments will accepted until 4:30 p.m. on Oct. 10. After these comments are received and reviewed, the MPCA will determine if a further study – such as an Environment Impact Statement – needs to be conducted.
Perschbacher says he’s trying his best to comply with the MPCA’s ordinances and regulations – and will adjust if he needs to.
"I’ll accommodate them, or do whatever they think I need to do," Perschbacher said. "Because I live here too. I only live a mile from it. I gotta drink the same water everyone else does around here. I mean, I’ve put a lot of time into this."
The MPCA will not move forward with a project if there are significant environmental implications or health violations.
The Environmental Assessment Worksheet and Perschbacher’s feedlot permit application can be found online.