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Neighbors of Hog Facility File Lawsuit Over "Foul Stench"

PHOTO: A legal complaint has been served over the odors emanating from a Minnesota pig farm with Iowa owners, with the plaintiffs claiming the stench is making their lives miserable. Photo credit: Mercy for Animals/Flickr.
PHOTO: A legal complaint has been served over the odors emanating from a Minnesota pig farm with Iowa owners, with the plaintiffs claiming the stench is making their lives miserable. Photo credit: Mercy for Animals/Flickr.
August 22, 2014

DES MOINES, Iowa - Neighbors of a central Minnesota hog facility that has Iowa owners are going to court, claiming the odors from the operation are not only pungent but a nuisance under state law.

According to Amanda Hungerford, an equal justice works litigation fellow with the Humane Society of the United States, the plaintiffs say the foul stench from the manure and dead pigs has made their lives miserable since operations began last year.

"It's very close to several residences, and the people who live there have lived there for decades," she said. "So, we have people who have built their dream houses there, people who've raised children there, people who have grandchildren come and visit them there. And the people who live nearby, they've just had their lives severely disrupted."

The Todd County, Minn., facility is owned by Gourley Bros. LLC, based in Webster City, Iowa, and houses about 4,000 sows and piglets.

This lawsuit comes just days after a ruling in another legal battle with Gourley Bros. related to how much groundwater the facility can use each year. The Minnesota Court of Appeals sided with the Humane Society and ordered the Department of Natural Resources to review its earlier approval, allowing the withdrawal of 18,000 gallons of water a day. Hungerford described the process in that case.

"People had weighed in when the permit was proposed, explaining that people nearby use this aquifer for their well water and that there's a very real danger that this kind of withdrawal could deplete the aquifer," she said. "DNR did not address any of those concerns. They just granted the permit, fairly silently. And so, the Court of Appeals, based on this record, remanded the case back to DNR."

Efforts to reach Gourley Bros. for comment on the water ruling and the foul-odor litigation have been unsuccessful.

More information is online at humanesociety.org.

John Michaelson, Public News Service - IA