Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations in Utah
In 1992, the City of Milford and Beaver and Iron Counties invited a consortium of hog producers to build a Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) as a means to provide economic stimulus and expand their tax base. Local officials and citizens had little working knowledge of CAFOs. Initial public meetings supported the concept based on economic issues and employment prospects for the community.
In 1993, the hog CAFO was approved and a groundwater discharge permit was issued by the Utah Department of Environmental Quality. Groundwater discharge permits protect the beneficial uses of groundwater from the CAFO wastewater facilities and manure lagoons. Other existing Utah environmental regulations may or may not have been adequate at the time to respond to the potential negative impacts associated with CAFOs.
The hog farm was first populated in 1994 and is still expanding in 2008. While State permits for groundwater and drinking water protection were in place, other unknown or unintended consequences became apparent after hog farming operations began. By 1997 the local communities were demanding public meetings to complain about noxious odor emissions, contaminated drinking water resources, increasing health impairments, and questioning whether the economic benefits were worth the environmental risks.1,2 The Utah Legislature legislated law to protect farming operations from public nuisance suits and circumvent public outcry 2,3. This law has assisted CAFO expansion in Utah. In 2001, Iron County instituted odor abatement and animal operation separation distances ordinances.
As or 2008, CAFO operations near Milford are established and public clamor has diminished. In retrospect, both good and bad outcomes resulted from the initial planning decisions:
To construct the facilities in unpopulated areas of Beaver and Iron Counties with appropriate zoning controls.
The CAFO has approximately 450 employees, pays approximately $16 million in annual payroll, $716,000 in annual property taxes, and purchases $33 million in supplies from Utah vendors each year.4
Over 1 billion gallons of liquid hog manure sits in lagoons in Beaver and Iron Counties. All of these lagoons overlie good quality groundwater aquifers. A small percentage of the lagoons have leaked wastewater to groundwater, resulting in notices of violation and monetary fines. There have been surface spills resulting from equipment malfunctions. Corrective action required by the State of Utah DEQ is ongoing and attempts to minimize as much as possible the threat posed by this volume of wastewater. The facility operator does try to minimize all spills and releases as a matter of practice.
Public clamor over documented odor issues and perceived health threats have polarized some members of the community.
References: 1 DWQ hearing transcripts, August 14, 1997; 2 Kratz, Gregory, Various Deseret News articles 3 Sanders, 2007, BYU Masters Thesis 4Circle Four Farms publicity brochure.
|Circle Four Farms Confronts Odor Problems – http://nationalhogfarmer.com/mag/farming_circle_four_farms/
Best of State Award – http://www.smithfieldfoodsnews.com/VolumeII_NumberI/PageI.html
Hog Farm gets Green Light to Grow: Salt Lake Tribune –http://archive.li.suu.edu/docs/ms122/PP/water04.pdf
Some Pig Debate: Salt Lake Tribune – http://archive.li.suu.edu/docs/ms122/PP/water11.pdf
Possible Leak probed at Pig Farm’s Waste Lagoon: Salt Lake Tribune – http://archive.li.suu.edu/docs/ms122/PP/water12.pdf
Have Hogs Caused Milford Maladies?: Salt Lake Tribune – http://archive.li.suu.edu/docs/ms122/PP/water03.pdf
Stench of Mammoth Hog Operation Divides Farming Community; Utah: Every morning, the stench of tens of millions of gallons of waste sears nostrils of residents. But some say economic benefits outweigh the drawbacks: Los Angeles Times – http://archive.li.suu.edu/docs/ms122/PP/water09.pdf
Hog Farm Will Pay After Sooey Sewage Taints Groundwater; Hog Farm Will Pay for Letting Sewage Seep: Salt Lake Tribune – http://archive.li.suu.edu/docs/ms122/PP/water05.pdf