The Illinois Department of Agriculture conducted public meetings in Watseka (Thursday) to get input on three proposed hog confinement operations near Stockland. The Iroquois County Board will next take up the issue. The local board has 30 days to issue its advisory, non-binding recommendation about the facility’s construction.
The proposal needs to meet the 8 siting criteria described in the Livestock Management Facilities Act (LMFA). The state Ag Department has the final say on the matter. The LMFA protects a citizens’ right to a safe, clean environment as well as the right of livestock farmers to earn a living. The Act states animal agriculture is important to Illinois economy and should be maintained, but farmers have a responsibility to be good neighbors. The Act, adopted in 1996 and amended seven times since, also recognizes market forces are rapidly changing the livestock industry. Farmers are increasingly having to expand operations to remain in business, and the trend towards expanded farms has a created a need for safeguards to protect the public interests and theirs.
The safeguards establish requirements for the design, construction and operation of livestock management. They also establish procedures and criteria for the siting of facilities and outline the public information meeting process.
Some immediate neighbors to the proposed Stockland sites have voiced opposition, pointing to potential air and water pollution, the amount of water consumed by such hog facilities, the smell, wear and tear on local roads, and the negative effect on their property value.
Supporters, including the Farm Bureau, say the livestock operations promote ag growth, new jobs (especially for youth), increased tax revenues, and that the Livestock Act is a fair process with uniform rules for the environment.