Education & Workforce Development and Energy & Environment and Environment and Agriculture/Farming

Large hog farm gets approval near Camp Tecumseh

July 1, 2013

A northern Indiana county approved plans Monday for a 9,200-hog farm near a youth camp whose leaders fear the farm's odors will affect life at the popular camp.

The White County Commissioners approved a zoning petition allowing for the farm's construction following two hours of testimony for and against the farm, which will be about a half-mile from the YMCA-operated Camp Tecumseh.

Six children wearing YMCA T-shirts who attended the meeting carried signs, one of which accused the hog pig industry of being bullies.

The camp's activities include camps for children with asthma and kidney troubles, and those who have suffered burns. The 90-year-old facility attracts more than 35,000 campers a year, including many from schools in the Indianapolis area.

Local farmer John Erickson plans to build two large hog barns about a half-mile from Camp Tecumseh, which is about 20 miles north of Lafayette.

Camp Tecumseh CEO Scott Brosman told the commissioners he's convinced the farm will cause water contamination or odors to waft over the 600-acre camp, affecting its outdoor activities, the Journal & Courier reported.

"That's our biggest concern," Brosman said last week. "If people start and continue to notice odors, the chances of them coming back diminish greatly."

The commissioners' 3-0 vote changes the zoning for a 7-acre tract from agricultural to agricultural-industrial — a designation that allow for a more intense agricultural use of the land. That will allow Erickson to build a concentrated animal feeding operation capable of housing nearly 10,000 hogs in two buildings.

Before Monday's approval by the county commissioners, Erickson had already received a state permit for his planned hog farm and approval from the White County Plan Commission for the project.

Heading into Monday's meeting, Erickson had assured camp officials that the hogs — and their manure — would have no effect on Camp Tecumseh. Erickson, a fifth-generation farmer, spoke briefly at Monday's meeting, calling the big hog farm a natural extension of his longtime family farm.

Erickson's attorney, Joe Bumbleburg, told commissioners the hog farm represents the type of farming the county wants. He noted that the county approved a plan in 2011 calling for entrepreneurial farming.

"Now I'm asking you to allow the ordinance to do its work," he said.

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