Old Fashion Pork Decides Not to Build in Chippewa County, WI

Main facility for Old Fashion Pork, Thorp, Wis. ( Photo: Old Fashion Pork )

Old Fashion Pork has canceled its plans to build three hog facilities in Chippewa County, according to an article in the Leader-Telegram.

Jay Moore, Old Fashion Pork’s environmental services director, said his company has decided against opening one operation near Jim Falls in the town of Eagle Point and two more south of Cornell in the town of Estella, the article said.

Old Fashioned Pork (which was featured in the July-August 2017 issue of PORK) uses a different approach to raising pigs, to meet specifications set forth by the Global Animal Partnership, or GAP. This is a “non-profit alliance of producers, retailers, animal advocates and scientists dedicated to improving farm animal welfare through the 5-Step Animal Welfare Rating Program,” according to the GAP website. These specs must be met to sell to stores like Whole Foods.

A whole segment of consumers can be reached by farmers willing to meet the protocols, but it’s not easy. Interestingly, those protocols are established by a diverse group of industry and non-industry “specialists,” which means science-based research isn’t always the foundation. Here are some of the requirements that farms like Old Fashion Pork must meet under GAP:

  • 25% slats/75% solid flooring
  • Square footage is about 30% greater than a normal commercial barn
  • Open-pen gestation
  • Open-pen farrowing, with bedding
  • 28-day minimum weaning age
  • No animal byproducts
  • No antibiotics
  • No tail-docking
  • No teeth-clipping
  • Must castrate within the first three days of life
  • Required certification
  • Specific documentation
  • Announced audits

Read more about Old Fashion Pork here.

“It just wasn’t a good fit,” Moore told the paper last week. “The setbacks weren’t great — we’d love to be more isolated. We like to have more than 300 feet (from our nearest neighbors). We also decided it was just too far from the sow farm we have in Clark County.”

He added that it was “an internal decision.”

While Moore said “never say never,” he added the company no longer is looking at sites in Chippewa County.

According to the news report, “when the Jackson, Minn.-based company announced plans to build the facilities — which would have had the capacity to raise 2,400 pigs at each location — several people living near the sites spoke out at county committee meetings in opposition to the plan. Moore said that opposition wasn’t a factor.”

“We hadn’t gotten that far,” Moore said in the article. “It was an internal decision.”

Eagle Point is a town that uses the county’s zoning rules, so Old Fashion Pork would have needed a conditional use permit from the county before it could have started construction, the news source reported. “The town of Estella doesn’t use those zoning rules, so the company would have only needed to meet requirements for a manure basin and pass a soil and site investigation to move forward,” the article said.