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Howard County residents express concerns over proposed hog farm site

Just north of the small city of Armstrong in Howard County sits an area of land that’s now the site for a proposed Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO).

Howard County Presiding Commissioner Sam Stroupe said the proposed hog farm is in the very early stages of development. He said, that to his knowledge, as of Wednesday, a permit application for the hog farm had not been submitted to the Department of Natural Resources.

Although it is in the early planning stages, some Howard County residents are still expressing their concerns over the proposed site for the CAFO, which is located off of County Road 242.

“This is bad for the community. This is not farming,” said Vickie Gassman, who lives a mile and a half away from the proposed site. “Now this is going to be turned over to a corporation who cares nothing about this community.”

Gassman said she’s concerned the hog farm would decrease her home’s property value and would affect her family’s well-being.

“If there’s an odor, we’ll have to shut the windows. We are outside in the evenings and there will be a lot of flies coming our way,” she said.

“It’s going to completely change the county and change this area of this county,” said Roger Allison, whose family has owned a farm on Route U just south of Armstrong for 52 years.

Allison said he’s worried about the environmental impacts of a large hog farm operation, such as runoff into county streams.

He, Gassman and other residents are asking Howard County residents to sign a petition in opposition to the proposed hog farm site as well as for the County Commission to pass a health ordinance.

Stroupe said the ordinance would limit the number of hogs at the site within a certain distance from existing homes. He said the commission will have to come to a decision on the ordinance, but said they’ve already decided the fate of the CAFO would be left up to Howard County voters in the August 2018 election.

“I realize we can’t farm like we did 50 years ago, but this is, as I say, ‘corporate chaos’ and something has got to be done about it,” Gassman said.

“This issue is ‘What kind of community do we want here?'” said Allison. “Do we want a community where everyone has an opportunity or do we have a community that is controlled by the big boss?”

The County Commission meets Friday morning. Stroupe said it’s unclear if they’ll discuss the proposed hog farm site. He said some Howard County residents are in favor of the development.

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