There is a growing debate in Delaware County over the proposed building of a confined feeding operation (CFO) that would house 10,500 head of hogs. 

Rhett Light, a Blackford County resident, has filed paperwork and met zoning qualifications to build a CFO near Delaware County Road 1270-North. He sent a letter of notice to neighbors, who began to express their concerns. 

Residents who attended a March 8 meeting stated their belief that the local environment would be harmed and property values would inevitably go down.

Ball State student Angela Lankford spoke against the farm at the meeting. She currently lives on Ball State’s campus, but the rest of her family lives approximately one mile from the proposed site.

Lankford says there are many environmental, health and economic concerns related with building such a big pig farm.

Lankford said the operation being built in Delaware County is considered a CFO and not a concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO) because the operator does not have a National Pollution Discharge Elimination System permit (NPDES). The operation meets the minimum animal number requirement to be considered a CAFO. However, without such a permit the operation is a CFO. 

“Iowa and North Carolina are two of the top states for CFOs and their waterways are awful,” Lankford said. “In this particular area there a many waterways and ditches leading straight to the Mississinewa River. The site is elevated and everything will run down hill. Drinking water and waterways will be negatively impacted. Algae and E. coli are already issues in this area in water but this operation would make it worse.”

Lankford is concerned with the health of residents in her area, especially of children and the elderly. Some of her neighbors already have pre-existing health conditions like asthma and various forms of cancer. 

Research collected by Purdue University acknowledges the concerns of neighbors who live by CFOs. The university also says such facilities produce a lot of waste. However, it also argues that waste is managed properly and that research doesn’t show a connection to a rise in health related issues and living next to a CFO.

“Taking all studies into account, there is still little consensus on the association between CFO emissions and health of residences living in proximity to a CFO,” a Purdue University public health study said. 

Lankford and other concerned Delaware County residents have formed a group called Keep Delaware County Clean. Its website rallies against the proposed CFO and promotes protecting the county’s land and resources.

Delaware County Commissioner, James King, had no comment on the proposed CFO. However, during the meeting in March, commissioners told residents that the farm has been properly zoned and would only need building permits to move ahead. The other Delaware County Commissioners deferred to Muncie attorney John Brooke for comment. 

“Up to this point the county did not have zoning regulations concerning confined animal feeding operations other than to place them in areas that are zoned a-agricultural,” Brooke said. “The county already has some CAFO operations in the county in various areas.”

“The county commissioners have conducted a listening session for the people of the county to express their views,” Brooke said. “ It is the position of the commissioners that the next step of this process is to put a proposal together for review and public comment by the plan commission and eventually to the board of commissioners.”

On Monday, Delaware County commissioners reaffirmed a hold on building permits for the farm. They cited lack of regulations and looking out for the best interests of Delaware County residents. 

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