Pork producers face intense opposition over facilities

Kyle and Leah Broshears knew they would face a tough crowd at the Jackson County Board of Zoning Appeals meeting this past October.

The Seymour, Ind., couple had requested a permit to construct a 4,000-head feeder-to-finish hog building. What they didn't expect was six hours of opposing comments to their plan.

"A hundred people were there to speak against us," says Kyle, 34.

After hearing concerns about odors, dust, property value declines and manure dangers, the Jackson County Board of Zoning Appeals unanimously approved the plan.

Unfortunately, that victory and the previous unanimous approval by the county planning commission wasn't enough—nor were the personal visits the Broshears paid to all the neighbors of the proposed site. Within 30 days of the hearing, they received a letter notifying them that they, along with every member of the zoning board, were being sued.

That letter brought their plan to a screeching halt. The county can't issue a permit to the Broshears to build amid active litigation.

The case highlights how public opposition to animal agriculture today could translate into tougher scrutiny of other farming practices in the future. Understanding how plans for hog-operation expansions succeed or fail will ensure farmers have future growth opportunities.

Read more from Top Producer: "Pressure on Pork Production"