TOWN OF TRADE LAKE, Wis. (FOX 9) - An Iowa company is planning a $20 million hog farm in northwestern Wisconsin that will house more than 23,000 pigs.
The proposed operation has pitted farmer against farmer in the small township of Trade Lake, Wisconsin, as many neighbors worry about the environmental and health effects from runoff.
“I support agribusiness. I’m just concerned about the size of this farm,” said Allan Johnson, a farmer.
Johnson farms 265-acres less than a mile from the proposed site.
“There’s a good dozen houses within a half a mile, and they all have a direct impact with wells and property value,” said Johnson.
Jim Melin and his sons have grown corn and soybean on the land for decades. He decided to sell 40 acres to Iowa-based Suidae Health and Production after hearing a representative from the company make a pitch to community members at a recent town meeting.
“It’s not a bad thing for Burnett County. It’s not a bad thing for Trade Lake Township,” said Melin.
Around 150 residents showed up to a recent town meeting to express their opposition to the project. Those opponents say they worry about antibiotics and manure getting into the well water and local tributaries, specifically, the Fish Lake Wildlife Area.
According to a preliminary permit filed with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, the hog farm will produce around 6.8 million gallons of manure per year, storing it in containers underground and injecting it into the soil once per year.
The Melins, who will be buying back some of the manure to fertilize their crops, say the method used to distribute the manure will be safer than traditional methods. They also say it’s far better for the land than mass-produced fertilizer.
“Back 50 years ago, every farmer had 30, 40 or 50 cows and they spread manure year-round on the surface, and yet they think this is going to pollute the water,” said Melin. “I think they have to look at their own backyard.”
The hog operation will be the first of it’s kind in northern Wisconsin.