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Hogs in a North Iowa confinement. 

File photo

FOREST CITY | The Winnebago County Board of Supervisors voted 2-1 Tuesday to deny for the second time a permit for a nearly 5,000-head hog confinement operation south of Buffalo Center.

However, Supervisor Bill Jensvold said he's concerned the odor from the operation could reach the nearby Gruis Recreation Area/The Barn, a golf course with a clubhouse that's a popular spot for events such as class reunions.

Mike Stensrud


Supervisor Mike Stensrud said whatever action the county takes is irrelevant because the Iowa Department of Natural Resources has the final say, and the agency will likely approve the application. 

Stensrud said he's not opposed to the site proposed by 1 pigE, but voted against the application to make a statement that county supervisors should have more say in where confined animal feeding operations are located.

Several people came to the public hearing to speak against the proposed location for the CAFO.

"People won't play there (at the golf course) if it stinks," said Carol Aukes of Buffalo Center. 

Ben Ennen, representing 1 pigE, said the company can't find any other location at this time that would still meet the state's requirements. 

In January the supervisors rejected 1 pigE's initial application for a permit for two 2,499-head deep pit swine finisher confinement buildings off 380th Street west of 20th Avenue.

The supervisors cited issues with the placement of the well and the truck turnaround as well as the proximity to the Gruis Recreation Area/The Barn.

They also questioned the accuracy of the master matrix scoring, which determines whether CAFOs meet state requirements.

1 pigE withdrew that application before it could go to the DNR, but then submitted a new one to address the concerns about the well and the truck turnaround.

During Tuesday's public hearing on the new application, Ennen said the first time around there was a misunderstanding about the placement of the well.

He said it would have met the state requirements under the first application, but 1 pigE has now moved the proposed well site so it will be even farther away from the road. 

As for the golf course, which is located less than 2 miles from the proposed site, "I guess I respect that it's there, but don't know what effect it (the confinement) will have if any," Ennen said. 

Bill Jensvold


Jensvold said north winds could carry the odor from the confinement to the golf course.

He said he is in favor of hog production because of the economic benefits to the county.

"If they (CAFOs) didn't stink, there wouldn't be a problem," he said.

Jensvold said the proposed CAFO might not affect the golf course "but we won't know until it is there."

Durby, who cast the lone vote against denying the permit, said products exist on the market that can help prevent the the smell from CAFOs as well as improve the quality of the manure. 

Terry Durby


Also on Tuesday, the supervisors voted unanimously in favor of a permit from Eden 21 for another nearly 5,000-head hog confinement operation -- this one in Eden Township southeast of Rake.

The proposed site meets the master matrix requirements. 

No one at the hearing on the permit application objected to it. Stensrud said he hasn't heard of any opposition from the public. 


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