Hatching out a plan

A proposal that will soon come to the Warrick County Board of Zoning and Appeals has several community members concerned.

Prime Foods, LLC recently submitted an application for special use for a confined feeding operation northeast of Boonville. Chief operating officer Ronald Bennett said the facility would be used as an egg laying complex to support the company’s production.

Prime Foods currently features shell egg production and shell egg and egg product wholesaling and distribution. Bennett said the company currently ships in eggs from a farm in northwest Ohio that is owned by another company. Having an operation local will not only make more sense economically, but will cut down on the environmental damage caused by the 600 mile round trip that the company’s trucks take daily and will allow the company to make sure the animals are taken care of properly.

“Right now we are cooking about a million eggs a day,” he said.

Bennett said there are some conceptual plans for the site, but any plans are still dependent on approval from environmental checks. He said the company would build the complex in phases and likely wouldn’t be populated for three years after approval.

“It’s so early in the game,” he said. “We don’t even know if it’s a reality.”

While there are many concerns with a confined animal feed operation, Bennett said most of the concerns are based on other types of operations. He said a laying operation would be very different compared to other poultry operations.

“In the state of Indiana, an operation has to have zero discharge,” he said. “We would use dry manure handling, minimizing the odor. There would be no discharge into the ground or neighboring waters.”

Bennett said there has been some concern of migrant workers involved in the operation based on the circulation of a conceptual map. The map included two 3,000 square foot homes at the facility and viewers made the assumption that the homes would house migrant workers. However, the homes would be for the pullet facility manager and laying facility manager and their families.

“They have to be there to watch and ensure the health and well-being of the birds,” he said. “I don’t know who that will be, but it will be the people who are most qualified for the job.”

Bennett said there is some data on how similar operations have affected property values that has shown stagnation or even increase in values. To be sure, the company has hired a real estate company to research the issue.

“We hired someone to research so the public will know what to expect,” he said.

The issue will come before the Warrick County Board of Zoning and Appeals on Monday and Bennett said he hopes people will come with open minds. He has had very few people actually discuss the matter with the company and believes they may not have all the facts.

“With what we’re doing and the level of technology we’ll have, it should be positive for the community,” he said. “I really think it’s going to be positive and not a negative thing.”

Bennett said the goal of the community is to be honest by making information available to members of the community. He encouraged those who are concerned to speak with him and gather all the necessary information.

The Board of Zoning Appeals will hold a hearing on the proposal at 6 p.m. on Monday on the third floor of the Warrick County courthouse. The meeting is open to the public.

Bennett said a member of the community asked if he would want to live across the street to a facility like the one the company is proposing. He said he would.

“I would in a minute,” he said. “I wouldn’t build a facility and not be willing to live near it.”

Wyatt Squires is a staff writer for The Standard. Before coming to Warrick, Wyatt has worked as a reporter in Jackson, Greene and Knox counties in Indiana.

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