Local hog farmers opt to sue fiscal court

There’s a lawsuit over hogs in Graves County, 12 farmers there feel they’re being treated unfairly.

The county has a requirement that new hog farms have to be at least 2,000 feet from a house.

“250 is a lot. It’s hard to find a location with that,” Jacob Farmer said. Farmer owns and operates a hog farm in Clinton, Kentucky.

In Hickman County, you have to be 1,750 feet from a house for a hog farm. The new Graves County rule has been in place since December.

Farmer remembers the day he started his hog business. “We started construction in April, and I had pigs in August. So, I got lucky,” Farmer said.

Tuesday, he showed attorney John Walters what he’s fighting for in Graves County. Farmers there say the new county ordinance is unfair. “Today, it’s hog farms. Who knows what kinds of regulations for other types of agriculture in the county?” Walters said.

The biggest factor of the lawsuit, according to Walters, is the distance. Statewide, the requirement is 1,500 feet. That’s why Walters thinks 2,000 feet is unnecessary and hopes this case will lift that stipulation

Graves County Commissioner Richie Galloway stands by his decision to separate large hog operations from residential communities. “We feel good with the 2,000 feet. We feel like that is a good balance between the hog farmers and the communities.”

It’s simple to Walters. He says going against the state’s research hurts the farmer, the economy, and the consumer. “These farmers here are able to build their barns, and that’s all that we want in Graves County,” Walters said.

The ordinance also includes an insurance rule. It says companies can’t drop hog farmers unless they don’t pay. And they have to give 120 days’ notice before dropping a farmer. Walters says that will make it difficult to get insured.

The fiscal court in Graves County has not yet received any documentation on the suit. Todd Hayden, a Graves County commissioner, says he voted against the new ordinance. He says he was for a 1,750 feet rule and believes that agreement would have avoided the suit. 

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