Graves County neighborhood opposes hog farm, wants new ordinances

People in a local community say they can deal with chicken farms, but hog farms are too much.

A local chicken farmer started building hog barns on his land. He’s followed state regulations and permits so far, but people in Graves County voiced their concern about the barns at the fiscal court meeting yesterday saying they want the county to do something.

They say hog farms are too big a nuisance for the area, and see issues from environmental concerns to the smell. And they want county leaders to reinstate some form of an old county ordinance. The fiscal court discontinued an ordinance regulating hog farms in the county last year. Neighbors say they love their area and just want to see it protected.

Margaret Merida lives less than 2 miles away from the chicken and soon-to-be hog farm. She says they won’t see the farm, but they’ll smell it.

"We’re going to have the added whammy of hog manure on top of chickens," says Merida.

Merida says she’s invested so much into her home and town, and it saddens her to see a hog farm going up in the middle of their town. She says they do not want to sue or stop construction, but start protecting her and her neighbors from future hog farms.

"There are no ordinances now governing how close they can be to a home property line school church anything," Merida says.

The farm is private property, but the hog farms along with the chickens means there’ll be around 4,000 animals neighbors say they’ll smell.

Graves County Judge Executive Jesse Perry is pro-agriculture, but he says Merida’s hog farm concerns are valid.

"If it’s devaluing someone’s home and someone’s property, then I’m not for them," Perry says.

Perry says he wants to see and help the county take action, whether by ordinance or something else. But Merida also sees, and says she is saddened by, how this has tested her neighborhood.

"You’re going to have people angry about this," Merida says. "And had there been an ordinance it would have prevented anger."

Perry says they discontinued the ordinance last year because hog farm regulations changed. He says hog farms changed how they distribute and get rid of waste, and it was seen as safer and better for surrounding areas.

Perry says the chicken farms established several processing plants and facilities, which generate a lot of money for Graves County. He says that would not be the case with the hog farms.

Tosh Farms is the company over the Graves County hog farm. Jimmy Tosh, owner and CEO, says protests and lawsuits are not new. The company won a class action lawsuit in 2009 in Marshall County, but Tosh says the local farmer is working hard to earn a living.

"It’s about growing, young farmers who would like to put a facility up and provide their families with an amount of income and amount equity," Tosh says.

Tosh expects the farm’s construction to be finished by the end of the winter next year.

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