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Marshall County residents call potential sow farm a ‘factory’

Marshall County residents are calling what would be a new sow farm a “factory farm” as it could house over 20,000 animals.

On Tuesday the Illinois Department of Agriculture tried to address citizen concerns that include environmental and health issues.

“The toxic gases like hydrogen sulfate which is not even monitored or regulated in Illinois travels offsite and affects people in dangerous ways,” Marshall County farmer Sharon DeWorth said.

For Marshall County resident Greg Steil, who lives just under two miles from a different sow farm owned by the same company, the smell from the farm is unbearable.

“To me, they are just a cancer that is dropped in the middle of people’s laps. They tell you it won’t stink, they are lying to you,” he said. “The quality of their air is going to go down the toilet cause it’s gonna smell like one.”

The new farm would be known as Buffalo Run and would use cow manure as fertilizer just like they do at their other farm and residents worry antibiotics given to the animals could reach the water through this.

The company who manages the farms, VMC Management, denies this.

“[Manure] is better than commercial fertilizer because you get the organic part of it which improves the soil quality over time. You’re getting all the same as commercial the P, the K and the nitrogen but you’re also getting the organic part which helps over time,” Local farmer Mike Haag said.

The new farm would bring 50 new jobs to the county, generating $190,000 in new property taxes.

“The goal of this farm is to raise pigs locally, provide jobs locally, taxes locally and utilize local inputs, corn and soybean. We’ll have local employment so farming becomes local even though we might take pigs other places,” Illinois Livestock Development Group Nick Anderson said.

Stephanie Rodriguez

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