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Parks board tours Days’ CAFO

Parks board tours Days’ CAFO
Parks board tours Days’ CAFO
Larry Day, third from left, speaks with Harrison County Parks Superintendent Claudia Howard and parks board member Dr. Leonard Waite before the tour of his hog farm operation last Wednesday evening. Larry’s son, Tony, who is in charge of the animals on the farm, is standing to Larry’s right. Photo by Ross Schulz (click for larger version)

The owners of the Elizabeth hog operation that has recently been the focus of scrutiny from a start-up organization welcomed the Harrison County Parks board last Wednesday evening to the farm for a tour.
The Citizens for Sustainable Farming has held at least one public meeting and has used two of the last three Harrison County Board of Commissioners meetings to express its displeasure with Larry Day’s proposed second 4,000-head hog barn.
Day and his son, Tony, led last week’s tour around the current hog barn, which is also a 4,000-head operation, and showed the group where the proposed barn would be located. The Days also showed how many houses are near the barn and explained the manure injection process on crop land.
Larry Day said there are 14 houses, three of which are his family’s, within a quarter of a mile of the existing hog barn. With the new barn, he said, only four houses will be within 1/2 mile of the facility. One of the houses near the proposed barn is one of Day’s rental homes that was just recently remodeled.
‘We’re not trying to take (the operation) on the other side of town,’ Day said.
The barn, if the proper permits are granted, will be built near S.R. 11, about 1/4 mile west of Pumping Station Road near a patch of pine trees.
Day said he has not heard any complaints from his neighbors about the smell of the existing barn.
‘I’m not going to say you won’t smell it at all,’ he said. ‘Once in a while, you’ll detect it.’
Day said he’s asked his neighbors to the east of the barn if they have an issue with the smell.
‘They said, ‘For the most part, we’ve forgot it’s even there’,’ he said.
A neighbor’s child, a young girl, was outside playing with her two dogs less than 1/2 mile from the hog barn as Day drove past with the parks board members.
Day’s entire farm, which also includes 180 cattle and more than 2,000 acres of crops, is watered with fresh, spring water, and South Harrison Water Co. is used as a back-up supplier.
Tony Day said the spring was tested for nitrates in early June and the results were 6-1/2 of every 1 million particles included nitrates. Ten nitrates per million is the safe level for drinking water.
‘That spring is wonderful,’ Larry Day said.
Day said the farm land around the spring is injected with the hog manure, so, if dangerous levels of nitrates existed as many of the opponents attest, it would show up in the spring.
Day, 64, said he has been on the Elizabeth farm his entire life with the exception of a couple of years while he served in the military. His grandparents bought the land in the early 1940s.
The hogs weigh about 50 or 60 pounds now, and, when they’re done growing and ready for shipment, they’ll weigh about 270 pounds, Tony Day said. The entire process, from the time they’re piglets to the time they’re ready to be shipped, takes about 24 weeks.
Larry Day said that his son is the person who manages the animals for the most part, while he looks after the crops.
‘He does good; we’re proud of him,’ Larry Day said.
Day said anyone is welcome to visit the farm to see any aspect of it or to ask any questions. The only place last week’s group couldn’t go was inside the barn because the Days can’t risk getting any of the hogs sick.
Day said two of the county commissioners, James Goldman and Jim Klinstiver, have been inside the barn. The third, Carl (Buck) Mathes, told Day he’s seen plenty of hogs and didn’t need to visit the site to know what the operation was about. Day said he has invited the members of the opposition group to tour his farm as well.
The Days use the hog manure from the barn as fertilizer on their crop land. Larry Day said they’ll work around the South Harrison Park’s schedule to try to avoid injecting manure when a large event is planned at the park. Day said the fertilizer yields an amazing amount of crops.
‘It’s better than anything you can buy,’ he said.
He said that he even stopped telling other farmers about his soybean production last year, a dry year, because they had a hard time believing him.
Once the manure is injected, the land doesn’t have to be injected again for two or three years, Larry Day said. The Days’ one hog barn fertilizes 500 acres of land.
The Days work with Swift Pork Co. and the Jackson-Jennings Co-op. Jackson-Jennings has a total of 11 hog barns, similar to the Days’ operation, throughout Indiana.
‘We’re not out here alone,’ Tony Day said, adding that the proposed barn will cost $880,000.
The Indiana Department of Environmental Management will have to approve and monitor the barn every step of the way.
‘I get paid good money to take care of those hogs,’ Larry Day said. ‘I’ve got a job to do.’
He said he doesn’t understand how opponents could think going back to small, grass-based farming could work when people all around the world need to be fed.
The opposition group, led by Elizabeth resident Lance Dunbar, asked the commissioners to create an ordinance to keep the Confined Animal Feeding Operations a certain distance away from schools and churches. Dunbar also asked the board to have the county’s advisory plan commission and health department to study the issue and report back with a recommendation.
The plan commission will meet Thursday, July 7, at 7:30 p.m. at the Government Center in Corydon. The health department has not yet agreed to take on the issue.
The Citizens of Harrison County for sustainable farming are having a public CAFO meeting at the Palmyra Senior Citizens center on Wednesday, July 6, at 7 p.m.

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