Van Wert projects concern Lake Erie advocates

By Mackenzi Klemann -

VAN WERT — Permits for Profit Family Pork and Lamar Swine Farms have caught the attention of activists and elected officials in the Toledo area who worry the proposed facilities would hinder efforts to clean up Lake Erie.

The confined animal feeding facilities (CAFFs) may be coming to York, Washington and Jennings townships in Van Wert county. Each has applied to construct dual-barn CAFFs that together would produce up to 5.4 million gallons of liquid manure each year in the Auglaize River watershed,

The Auglaize River watershed feeds into the Maumee River, a tributary in the western Lake Erie basin.

Sandy Bihn, a representative for the Lake Erie Waterkeeper program, told The Lima News that approving the permits would counteract efforts to reduce nutrient runoff contributing to the rise of algae blooms in Lake Erie.

“You’re causing the system to get worse, not better,” said Bihn, who is advocating for tougher CAFF permitting rules as the Ohio Department of Agriculture reviews the applications for Profit Family Pork and Lamar Swine Farms, as well as two others in the Tiffin River watershed. Lucas County commissioners and the Toledo City Council have passed similar resolutions asking ODA to hold CAFFs to the same standards as those applied to human waste, according to the Toledo Blade.

Profit Family Pork has applied to build dual swine barns in York Township, Van Wert County, that if approved would hold a combined 9,600 swine and produce an estimated 2.2 million gallons of liquid manure each year, according to the ODA Fact Sheet for the application.

Similarly, Lamar Swine Farms has applied to construct swine barns at two separate sites that would also have a combined holding capacity of 9,600 swine and produce about 3.2 million gallons of liquid manure annually, according to the permit application fact sheet.

Manure would be held in underground concrete tanks and reused as fertilizer at both facilities.

The applications are still under review by the Ohio Department of Agriculture, which is scheduling a public meeting for Lamar Swine and is accepting public comment regarding Profit Family Pork through Oct. 25.

A rule change is unlikely though, as ODA Deputy Communications Director Brett Gates said the department cannot change CAFF regulations.

“This would be a function of the legislature, as it requires legislation,” Gates told The Lima News via email. “ODA regulates Ohio’s largest livestock farms with science-based standards to help them keep up with production demands while maintaining environmental standards.”

By Mackenzi Klemann

Reach Mackenzi Klemann at 567-242-0456.

Reach Mackenzi Klemann at 567-242-0456.

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