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Supervisors approve hog confinement expansion

A Union County hog confinement facility will be expanding after the Union County Board of Supervisors approved the expansion by a 2-1 vote during Monday’s regular meeting.

The facility, operated by Benjamin Waigand on behalf of BJW Pork LLC, scored a 445 out of 880 total possible points on the Iowa DNR’s master matrix.

“The reason this is taking place,” said Waigand, “(is) I signed a new contract with JBS, and they wanted to expand it (the confinement facility) to 5,200 head. They wanted the extra pig space, and so that’s the terms we agreed to.”

JBS is an international meat processing company. The facility Waigand operates currently manages about 4,800 head. It will maintain its same square footage with the introduction of about 400 new head.

According to the Iowa DNR, the master matrix is “a scoring system that can be used to evaluate the siting of permitted confinement feeding operations. Producers in counties that have adopted the matrix must meet higher standards than other permitted facilities.

“Before they can be approved for construction, they must earn points on the master matrix for choosing sites and using practices that reduce adverse impacts on the environment and the community.”

To pass the master matrix’s certification, facilities must gain a 50 percent or higher score (440 points out of 880 total), and at least 25 percent of the available points in each of the matrix’s three subcategories — air, water and community impacts.

Scoring of the master matrix was conducted by Supervisor Ron Riley, with assistance from Union County Auditor Sandy Hysell.

“Myself and Sandy (Hysell) went out to score it, drove up there, and the place is clean, mowed up — (it) looked very good,” said Riley. “Ben (Waigand) obviously does a good job. He’s been at that site for around nine years, takes pride in it — you can tell by the way he answered questions, he was very up front with us and truthful.”

The expansion was approved after a public hearing held at the Union County Courthouse. Several community members spoke for and against the expansion, including Karon Finn.

“I have qualms about it for the simple reason that the building’s (square footage) is not being expanded at all,” said Finn.

After the public meeting was closed, the supervisors made closing remarks before the motion went to a vote.

“There’s good sites and bad sites,” said Riley. “And if there’s ever a site that’s good, to me, it’s that one. It’s off the beaten path, trees all around it — to me, it’s a good site.”

The expansion was approved by the Union County Board of Supervisors in a 2-1 vote. Voting against the motion was Supervisor Dale Cline.

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