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Health department enforces hog regs

DENVER: The Rocky Mountain Farmers Union (RMFU) today commended the Colorado Department of Health for the enforcement action implemented against the National Hog Farms near Kersey as a result of the facility’s continued violation of the state’s public health regulations.

The Health Department Wednesday required National Hog Farms to completely suspend operations at its Kersey facility by January 1, 2001. Operations must cease until the facility can meet the state’s applicable air and water quality laws and regulations.

Following the Health Department announcement, Rocky Mountain Farmers Union President Dave Carter released the following statement on behalf of the organization:
Rocky Mountain Farmers Union commends the Colorado Department of Health for taking the steps necessary to enforce the Amendment 14 regulations overwhelmingly approved by Colorado voters in 1998. Since enactment of Amendment 14, the Health Department worked diligently to develop flexible regulations to allow the industrial hog facilities in the state to come into compliance in a timely fashion. The vast majority of large hog facilities have demonstrated a good faith effort to come into compliance. The glaring exception is National Hog Farms.

The provisions in Amendment 14 only require industrial hog facilities to take common-sense measures to protect the water and air resources important to our local communities, and to our state. National Hog Farms fought the passage of this amendment, refused to participate in the rulemaking process, and has consistently stonewalled on compliance. The State Health Department was left with no alternative.

Amendment 14, which was supported by 64 percent of Colorado’s voters in 1998, requires that large-scale hog facilities obtain a state permit, post financial assurance for any potential environmental damage, conduct periodic soil tests for seepage from waste storage facilities, and take appropriate steps to minimize offensive odors. The Amendment also prohibits wintertime field application of hog manure.

National Hog Farms disposes of its hog waste by utilizing holding tanks capable of handling the accumulated waste for a few days. After the solid waste is settled in the holding tanks, the liquid manure is applied to surrounding fields, including several thousand acres of State School Trust land.

Carter noted that National Hog Farms’ practice of year-around application of hog manure creates a potential runoff contamination for the South Platte River.