Topic: Factory Farms

January 15, 2015

PRN helps residents fight another factory farm

Prairie Rivers Network is helping yet another group of residents who have joined together to oppose the construction of a hog factory farm in their community. The residents live in Menard County, home to Lincoln’s New Salem State Historic Site. The proposed 9,300-hog facility would be located about 5 miles west of the historic site and the town of Petersburg.  This puts the town and historic site downwind of the proposed facility,  and residents are worried that the factory farm will ruin tourism, historical sites, quality of life, and nearby streams. Other factory farms have ruined the lives of their neighbors with foul stenches and gross pollution. You can hear their stories in our short documentary, “Living in Confinement.”

This new Petersburg group recently learned they will have more time to voice their concerns about the hog farm because the Department of Agriculture failed to notify the public about the planned construction. Prairie Rivers Network sent the group the legal citation for this requirement, and a few phone calls later, the Department of Agriculture acknowledged the misstep and announced the process will have to begin again. We will keep you updated as this fight against the factory farm continues.

Read more about the proposed factory farm and the concerns of neighbors and Petersburg residents in this January 8 news article from the Illinois Times.

November 19, 2014

IDOA approves factory farm over local objections

Save Our Sandy continues to fight this mega-hog operation.

Save Our Sandy!  Photo credit: Gary L. Smith/Journal Star

Photo credit: Gary L. Smith/Journal Star

Despite local objections, another large hog operation has been approved for construction by the Illinois Department of Agriculture. Local Marshall County residents fear their new neighbor will pollute nearby beautiful Sandy Creek and foul the air with unbearable odors. For months Prairie Rivers Network has been providing assistance to these concerned citizens, known as Save Our Sandy. Even with this latest setback, Save Our Sandy is not giving up!  Visit their Facebook page to help.

Beautiful Sandy Creek. This is what Save Our Sandy is fighting to protect.

Beautiful Sandy Creek. This is what Save Our Sandy is fighting to protect.
Photo credit: Save Our Sandy

For a full story on the Department of Agriculture’s approval of the controversial Sandy Creek Lane, LLC hog operation, see this Peoria Journal Star article (PDF).

Long-term reform means changing the law. Prairie Rivers Network has been working to improve the livestock operation siting law so that neighbors have more rights and protection from pollution. We are currently trying to find a rural legislator willing to sponsor a bill that will address the law’s shortcomings.

How can you help?  One way is to sign our petition.

Help protect the people living next to factory farms!

Sign our petition to change the law.


November 6, 2014

A rural paradise lost

David Leifheit once lived on “a little slice of heaven” in Ogle County, about halfway between the churning metropolis of Chicago and the muddy waters of the Mississippi River, Illinois’ western border. He proudly maintained the home he built himself on his mother’s ancestral land – land homesteaded by his great-great-grandparents over 150 years ago. The house sat at the edge of an old and rich forest, overlooking a prairie which boasted two ponds and a sparkling stream running through it. From his porch, David kept vigil over more than 1,000 family monuments—trees his father had planted when young, now reaching high up into the pristine skies of rural Illinois. When David speaks of his former home, his voice takes on the unmistakable timbre of a man in love. And in mourning.

David still lives on this property, but it is no longer the same place. In 2006 trouble found its way into heaven. That summer, David received notice that a neighbor would be building a 4,800-head hog confinement a quarter of a mile from his home. David’s life has not been the same since.

hog factory = paradise lostIn rural Illinois it is easy to find stories similar to David’s. Stories of people who lived to be outdoors now retreating inside, shut off from the world of fresh air and open spaces that once defined and drove them. Stories of a farming paradise swept under by an unrelenting tide of factory farm stench and pollution. Stories of lives lived in confinement.

Like David, Nancy Spratt treasured her summers outdoors on her family farm, with children splashing in the pool and ducks swimming in the pond. But also like David, Nancy’s world has been remade by the presence of a nearby hog confinement and the shifting winds that now determine whether she can open her windows or even walk outside without retching.

How is such a horrible smell created? How many hogs have to die to create this?


“It’s been horrible in recent weeks. If it’s not at our house, it’s in town. It’s an everyday smell now. Twenty-four years ago, I could walk outside, breathe my fresh country air. And I think I have a right to do that. Since the hog facility came, we can’t open up our house. Should we have to live like that? We shouldn’t.

Nancy is quick to point out that she is under no illusion of what it is to live on and around farms. “We are farmers,” declares Nancy. “We have cattle, chickens and ducks. We take pride in our farm. We love our livestock, but I’m not an animal rights person. We raise cattle and we raise them to be butchered.”

Nancy is emphatic that these factory farms are, in fact, heavy industry, and nothing like farms at all.

Nancy SprattNancy Spratt

“How is such a horrible smell created? How many hogs have to die to create this? It makes me question whether they are running it properly, and it makes me wonder what the long-term health effects are of breathing this in everyday.”

“And you have to wonder about the runoff. Salt Creek runs right behind us. What is it doing to the soil? What are they pumping into the soil?”

Sometimes the stench will even invade Nancy’s home. {Continue Reading »}

June 16, 2014

Prairie Rivers Network Releases Documentary and Petition on Illinois Factory Farms

“From the very beginning of the hog facility, we started experiencing, there is no other word to describe it but gut-wrenching odors that could just wake you up out of a dead sleep.”  

This line kicks off our new documentary on the harmful impacts that Illinois factory farms can have on rural communities. The people we interviewed wanted to share their stories with you because they have had enough. Their quality of life has suffered due to industrial-scale livestock production.

We produced the documentary because we want the general public to understand that factory farms can impose great costs upon neighbors. But we don’t want to just inform you of this injustice, we also want you to take action. WE NEED YOUR HELP to change the law so neighbors and the environment are better protected from factory farms.

As consumers of meat, eggs, and/or dairy products, we all have skin in this game. Most of the animal-based products we buy at grocery stores and restaurants come from factory farms. But we can demand a better food production system. SIGN OUR PETITION to state legislators and Governor Quinn!

Please watch our documentary and then click on the link to our petition.  Thank you.

May 12, 2014

Marshall County Board Votes Against Massive Hog Factory Farm

On May 8, the Marshall County Board voted 11-1 against the construction of a proposed hog factory farm. Members of Save Our Sandy were elated by the vote, which surely reflected their months of grassroots activism.

The proposed Sandy Creek Lane facility would house almost 20,000 hogs on a few acres near Sandy Creek, a beloved stream that drains into the Illinois River above Peoria. The hogs would produce approximately 10 million gallons of waste annually, which would be stored in pits underneath the hogs and then applied to nearby farm fields. Neighbors are concerned about odor, lower property values, creek and well contamination, and road damage from the large trucks that would service the facility.

An example of what a large hog factory farm looks like.

An example of what a large hog factory farm looks like.

The county board members astutely acknowledged that the facility owner and engineer did not provide them with enough information to evaluate the potential negative impacts on the surrounding community and environment.

While the county board vote is a step in the right direction, unfortunately their decision is considered a non-binding recommendation under the Livestock Management Facilities Act. Siting decisions are ultimately made by the Illinois Department of Agriculture. Earlier this year, Prairie Rivers Network and partners introduced a bill (HB 5637) that gives county boards more authority. The bill is opposed by livestock groups but will be introduced again in 2015.

April 18, 2014

Neighbors Consider Proposed Hog Farm a Threat to Beloved Local Creek

Yesterday, Prairie Rivers Network attended a heated, public informational meeting on a proposed hog farm in Marshall County. We attended because we were asked to by a group of local residents who don’t want to live near what they call a “hog factory.” If approved for construction, the hog farm will house almost 20,000 hogs on just a few acres of land that drain into Sandy Creek. Neighbors are concerned that pollution from the hog waste will contaminate their beloved creek, which they use for recreational activities.

Neighbors prepare to ask questions and make statements at the public informational meeting.

Neighbors prepare to ask questions and make statements at the public informational meeting.

At the public meeting, it was disclosed that the proposed hog farm (Sandy Creek Lane, LLC) would produce approximately 10 million gallons of waste annually. This waste will be applied on 1200 acres of nearby farmland. It was unclear whether this acreage is adequate for all of the waste that needs to be applied, or if additional acreage will be needed to avoid over-application. Like the neighbors, we have concerns about Sandy Creek becoming polluted.

Before the public meeting, we held a press conference with the residents who object to the construction of the hog farm. They expressed their concerns about not only water pollution, but also odors, air pollution, lower property values, and decreased quality of life. These legitimate concerns are the very reason we introduced a state bill this spring to amend the Illinois Livestock Management Facilities Act. Passage of the bill will be a multi-year battle because we face opposition by the livestock industry. But meeting people like the neighbors of Sandy Creek remind us the battle is worth fighting.