GREELEY, Kansas — A hog farm in southwest Kansas has received the go-ahead from the state health department to expand but the farm requires more water than is physically available.
In Greeley, Kansas there are just two major money makers, livestock and agriculture industries.
“We depend on livestock and agriculture industries to support these small rural communities and Seaboard has done that out here,” said Todd Schmidt, Greeley County Extension Agent.
Now a proposed expansion to double the hog farm to as many as 396,000 hogs is getting mixed reviews.
Seaboard owns 120 of hog barns so a 50 percent increase would be pretty significant for Greeley County.
The Kansas Sierra Club is strongly opposed to the expansion though. They are concerned that there isn’t enough water to cover waste management in an area already struggling with water problems. They are also concerned about the odor and potential ground water contamination.
“We need to give them a lot more room and cleaner facilities and I think that’s the way of the future and Seaboard needs to get on board with that,” said Craig Volland with the Sierra Club.
But supporters say any water in the area will be used for agriculture, if not for the hogs for irrigating crops.
Analysts say a virus that is currently affecting the pig population has caused the price of pork is start rising, eventually expected to be two or three times the current cost which could lead to an issue of supply and demand.
“That’s what the decision is going to come down to, do we want to continue to feed the hungry people or do we want to give up on agriculture?” said John Jenkinson, KSN’s agriculture analyst.
With such a need in the market, Schmidt says he thinks his community should take advantage of the opportunity.
“The majority of the community is in favor of it, in favor of the benefits they bring in terms of jobs and an economic boost,” said Schmidt.
KSN also reached out to Seaboard for comment but our calls were not returned. As for their expansion, it could start at any point as long as an official appeal to the KDHE’s decision is not filed.