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Opposition to hog farm is over more than just smell

In response to the editorial "Law-abiding livestock should be approved," it is clear that the writer could benefit from further education regarding the detrimental effects a hog operation can have on a community (particularly Devils Lake).

You say "critics who simply don't want to smell pig manure must accept that they live in an agricultural area." The truth is, critics are not simply worried about the smell. We are worried about the health effects, environmental effects and the effects it will have on businesses in the area. Studies have shown that people living near swine operations reported higher rates of depression, fatigue, wheezing, impaired neurobehavioral functions and pulmonary functions, increased blood pressure, increased occurrence of diarrhea (which can be deadly in children and elderly), burning eyes, respiratory problems, nausea, and vomiting ... just to name a few. People who live close to a large hog farms are 25 percent more likely to develop MRSA, according to one study.

You mentioned economic activity; the Devils Lake community thrives on the economic activity brought in by the lake and all it has to offer. The proposed hog operation is less than two miles from a state park. Proposed dump sites are on land in direct contact with the lake and dangerously close to homes and businesses. Twelve of the 28 sites tested at a moderate level of risk for groundwater leaching and runoff.

You stated that livestock manure "can improve the soil and thus local economy." They aren't buying local feed and will be taking away from local fertilizer companies. As for soil, evidence shows that nutrients wash into nearby water from the fields where farmers spray, inject or dump manure. This can contribute to harmful algal blooms and fish kills. Nearby water can also be contaminated by parasites, viruses, hormones, pharmaceuticals and antibiotic-resistant bacteria in hog waste. That nearby water is Devils Lake.

According to a Chicago Tribune article, in July 2012 a spill polluted more than 20 miles of Beaver Creek in Illinois, "wiping out 148,283 fish and 17,563 freshwater mussels, according to reports from state biologists. Four years later, the creek's aquatic life has only begun to recover." In just the past two years, hundreds of thousands of waste has spilled on hog farms in Iowa, Georgia, Missouri, North Carolina and Illinois. In a community known for the lake and all its unpredictable flooding, we can't afford to risk this. As you can now see, there is far more to it than smell.

I will continue to educate myself, and I encourage you to do the same.

I'm a proud "NIMBY" ("not in my backyard" critic).