The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on May 18, 1998 · Page 6
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 6

Salina, Kansas
Issue Date:
Monday, May 18, 1998
Page 6
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AB MONDAY, MAY 18, 1998 NATION THE SALINA JOURNAL V AGRICULTURE Hog farms are different creature XEROX 214 DIGITAL COPIER Many small farmers ; fear corporate farms will drive them out By CURT ANDERSON The Associated Press BODE, Iowa— Not too long ago, a small farmer like Roger Larson could count on a nice income from a few sows and their litters of squealing piglets. The money might pay the mortgage, buy a new piece of farm equipment or start a child's college education. As the pork industry moves inexorably toward big industrial farms, however, Larson sees a bleak future for his hog business. "What's the use if you're losing money?" Larson asks, gazing across his 240-acre farm toward the 200 noisy hogs that he knows iwill sell at bottom-dollar prices. "You're better off just getting out." Thirty years ago, hogs were raised on more than a million farms across the country. Today, there are only 157,000 hog farms, .yet production this year is forecast ;at a record 104 million animals. As hog farms have grown bigger, the public's attention has focused on how to deal with the stifling odor and huge amounts of manure they produce. There remains also an economic question: .Can small hog farmers survive amid the growing dominance of huge enterprises? To anti-corporate activists like Larson and Don Hoogestrat, Lennox, S.D., it boils down to whether hogs are produced by a .diversified group of local farmers or controlled by a few large out-of- state interests. "We don't want people coming in here and stripping this area of its resources," Hoogestrat said. "There would be no small towns. The money would not stay here." The pork industry is undergoing rapid change to meet consumer demand for leaner, more convenient products and the needs of fast-food chains for large quantities of meat on demand. One factor is the popularity of fast-food breakfast sandwiches that usually contain ham, sausage T AGRICULTURE Simply Digital. Hardly Average. • 14 Copies per minute • Long term, consistent digital copy quality at 600x600 DPI • Zoom reduction/ enlargement (50% to 200%) • Easy to use control panel • 256 gray scale reproduction • All-in-one, customer replaceable copy cartridge • Three year warranty • Optional PC Connectivity X Xerox Authorized Sales Agent Document Solutions 118 E. Iron, Salina Gall Darrin or Nesha 785-825-6423 1-800-783-6423 The Associated Press Roger Larson says he can no longer make money with a couple hundred hogs on his Iowa farm. or bacon. Instead of depending on small farmers and traditional auction markets, pork processors increasingly use large-scale contract operations with individual farmers or directly own their hog breeding and fattening facilities. An Agriculture Department study showed that more than two- thirds of the nation's hogs are produced on farms with more than 1,000 animals, as opposed to one- third a decade ago. This year, packers expect to get 30 percent of their hogs through operations they either own or control through contracts, compared to 2 percent in 1970. Many farmers believe current extremely low hog prices resulted from a glut triggered by the rise of corporate farms. Although this benefits consumers with lower grocery prices, farmers say in the long run shoppers will suffer as competition dries up. "It's like a snowball going down a hill," Larson said. "It's not going to stop." Some efforts are under way to slow the trend. In more than a dozen states, legislatures and officials are wrestling with issues created by the megafarms, which gravitate to places where oversight is weakest. -.. Larsen and his Iowa allies recently lost a state Supreme Court battle over their efforts to impose local county ordinances regulating the hog farms. The justices ruled the state, not the local Humboldt County government, has that authority. In Kansas, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Oklahoma and other states, lawmakers or agency regulators considered this year whether to impose mora- Hog farm flunks stink tests Manager says lagoons will smell less after bacteria start to grow By The Associated Press BISMARCK, N.D. — A new Grand Forks County hog operation, which some feared would stink up the countryside, has failed its first tests for odor problems, health officials say. The farm's manager promised last week to fix the problem, but a neighbor remained skeptical while his lawyer prepared a lawsuit challenging the hog farm's op; erating permit. "This is just the start of it and it's already smelling," said Jim 'Griffin, whose home is next door to the EnviroPork facility. -Romantic trip puts pony in jail By Cox News Service ATLANTA — Arnold "Bo" Kaye thought it would be romantic to take his girlfriend to opening night of "The Horse Whisperer" ^Friday in a pony-drawn carriage. i. Seated in a cart pulled by his 10- year-old daughter's brown and white Shetland pony, the Gwinnett County attorney and his date made the 30-minute journey from his farm to the theater. They tied blue-eyed Commanche to a pear tree and went into the cinema. The couple came out about three hours later, only to find that the pony and the cart were gone. The pony had been locked up by police. Kaye expects to learn today, when he retrieves the pony, whether he will face charges of cruelty to animals, animal abandonment, and criminal damage to property. AMERICAN FAMILY AUTO HOME BUSINESS HEALTH LIFE" • Home • Health • Auto • Life Compare our coverage and price before you buy. Daran Neuschafer 827-5150 1528 E. Iron Two tests were conducted at the hog farm Tuesday, with one registering odors more than 15 times the state standard and the other seven times greater, said Gary Haberstroh, an environmental engineer for the state Health Department. Todd Erickson, site manager at the hog farm near Larimore, said the farm's waste lagoon, over time, will develop more bacteria to kill the odors. "A year down the road, it's going to be a totally different ball game because our lagoon will be digesting itself," he said. "The odors won't be near as strong." Erickson said he planned to add enzymes to the lagoon to kick- start the bacteria, and water to dilute the waste. "It's always tricky to get these lagoons started," he said. The North Dakota Pigs Cooperative, comprised mostly of Minnesota farmers, developed the $4.3 million hog farm. It began operating this year and will be fully stocked with 5,100 sows by this week, Erickson said. EnviroPork's sows will produce 2,000 piglets weekly. Once they are 3 weeks old, the baby pigs will be sold to co-op members, who will fatten them for butchering. About 25 members have purchased 34 cooperative units at $40,000 apiece. Each unit carries the obligation to buy 1,000 piglets three times a year. "The first litters will be born this weekend, so the project is more or less complete," Erickson said. "Everything's going pretty much as we had planned." Thinking Balloons? rtful Parties & Events 921 Shalimar Dr. (behind the Southgate Dairy Queen) • 827-8448 It takes 160 years of experience to build it. Hut with these savings, onlv a second to want it. LX173Lawn Tractor 38^, 44-. and 48-inch cutting widths, 15-hp engine, 5-speed shift-on-tne-go transmission $400 OFF It's rugged, dependable, and has the highest resale value in its class. And now at $2995* the LX173 is really priced to move. Nothing Runs Like A Deere CARRICO IMPLEMENT COMPANY, INC. HIGHWAY 18 EAST LINCOLN, KS 67455 (785) 524-4040 DSM110 CARRICO LAWN & GARDEN ROUTE 2 HIGHWAY 24 BELOIT, KS 67420 (785) 738-5744 \l wwy WC.-T -TW-TW ' ' •Price Include! 3Wnch mower deck. Oiler ends July 6.1998. Manulaciurer'»jugjesled relall price. Prlcej may vary by dealer. Taxes, IrelBhl, setup, and delivery not Included. toriums on construction of corporate hog farms, how to control the odor from waste lagoons and ways to manage the use of the manure as a crop fertilizer. Some farmers say the fears of a corporate takeover are overblown. Gene Ver Steeg, who runs a 400- sow operation in Inwood, Iowa, said contract operations keep local packing plants husy, ensuring everyone a place to sell hogs. "There are a lot of independent, aggressive producers," Ver Steeg said. "I'm sure they are not going to give up their independence." Al Tank, head of the National Pork Producers Council, said small farmers cannot expect to make a profit hy clinging to old methods of raising and selling a few hogs at a time. "You're going to have to do some things differently to meet consumers' needs," Tank said. FINAL LIQUIDATION Everything Goes Up to > All Prints $1.00 and up • Fixtures • Prints • Frames • Framed Art • Odds & Ends CARROL HAMILTON! 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