Concerns expressed about swine flu with the proximity of proposed hog barn


By Sarah Stultz, Albert Lea Tribune (MN)

June 5, 2019


Concerns over the possible future transmission of swine flu between a proposed hog nursery and an existing turkey breeding farm took center stage Tuesday at the Freeborn County Board of Commissioners meeting.


The issues were raised after farmer Matt Holland has applied for a conditional use permit to construct and operate a confined structure housing 4,000 head of 10- to 50-pound hogs.


Trevor Bordelon with Freeborn County Environmental Services said the site proposal meets the required setbacks, and the county’s planning commission voted for a recommendation of approval in May.


The hog structure would be about 1,400 feet south of a turkey feedlot operated by Bob Wayne and Lisa Dunn, which Dunn said raises breeding stock for Jennie-O.


She said their barn was built specifically for breeding stock and is a little over 11 years old. She said the operation would be put at risk if the new hog structure were allowed to be built, citing University of Minnesota veterinarians who state turkey and pig barns should be a least one mile away from each other.


Tom Lang, a veterinarian in Clarks Grove, said he has seen cases when swine flu was transferred to other facilities and said it can be “devastating.” He recommended a setback of at least one mile, and said it would be better at two miles away.


Lang said swine flu can become aerosolized and move based on wind. He said smaller pigs are more susceptible to swine flu and more apt to spread it.


“This is really what I call the worst-case scenario,” he said, noting over 95% of pigs experience swine flu, though the signs are not always shown.


Holland said the barn would have a small footprint on the area at 102 by 148 feet and claimed it would have lower air emissions than the turkey barn.


He said his feedlot meets all the county setbacks and noted all of his hogs would be vaccinated.


He asked the commissioners not to make an exception for his situation when he meets all the county requirements.


Bob Ball, who owns land west of the proposed hog confinement, said he, too, is opposed to the hog confinement. His land is used as conservation land, and he has a number of youth events there each fall teaching about safe hunting. He said the value of his land would go down drastically if the hog operation were approved, and it would limit his ability to build on his land.


Freeborn County Attorney David Walker said the commissioners need to consider...