CELINA — A proposed dairy farm in Celina was met with overwhelming opposition from local residents who attended a public meeting Tuesday night, with more than 20 people expressing their discontent to the company that would own the facility, as well as officials from the Ohio Department of Agriculture.
The meeting, which was held by the ODA, was to discuss the proposed MVP Dairy facility that would be located at 7124 U.S. 33 northwest of Neptune. The farm would house 4,500 mature dairy cows, as well as storage and treatment components for the manure that would be generated by the facility.
Before the meeting, several residents marched in front of the building where the meeting was held, holding up signs that expressed concerns over the proposed facility. When the meeting began, a standing room-only crowd of more than 150 people packed the building to the point where people were spilling out into the hallways and onto the outside steps that led into the Mercer County Central Services Building.
Those who spoke before the crowd had a variety of concerns, ranging from potential water pollution and odor from the cows to a loss in property values and the destruction of small dairy operations by large factory farms.
Charles Wurster, who lives a half-mile from the proposed facility, was worried about possible water contamination and the diseases that could arise from ingesting the tainted water. He said he was also concerned that the amount of water the cows need would cause the wells to run dry.
Celina resident Lisa Muhlenkamp said she was “shocked and sickened” by another concentrated animal feeding operation, or CAFO, being constructed in Mercer County. She said she may be forced to relocate her home and her small business if the facility is built, due to a potential for decreased property values and potential health risks.
Jeremy Leugers, who lives a quarter-mile west of the proposed facility, said he was concerned about the health of his children, specifically from potential air pollution from CAFOs.
Vickie Askins, a spokeswoman for the Ohio Environmental Stewardship Alliance, called the CAFO permitting process “a sham.” She said the manure management plan MVP Dairy is proposing “grossly underestimates” the amount of manure that will be produced by the cows. She estimated the manure management plan, which states that 16,800 pounds of manure would be generated per year, is only about 35 percent of the actual number. She finished by saying the ODA should deny MVP’s permit to install the operation based on “false and misleading information.” She was met with thunderous applause from the crowd, as were many others who spoke.
At least two representatives from MVP Dairy, which is a partnership between VanTilburg Farms of Celina and McCarty Dairy LLC of Colby, Kansas, were on hand for the meeting but did not speak or answer questions as per ODA policy for public meetings.
But Kyle VanTilburg, of VanTilburg Farms, told The Lima News in a previous interview that residents should not be concerned about water contamination, odor or manure treatment. He said the company is taking ODA regulations “a step further” than what is required, and that residents shouldn’t be worried.
Though the proposed dairy farm was met with fierce opposition, the meeting was not meant to determine whether to allow or deny MVP’s permit to operate and install. Representatives from MVP would have to make the decision on their own about whether to continue with the dairy farm, assuming the ODA gives final approval for the permits.
Reach John Bush at 567-242-0456 or on Twitter @Bush_Lima.