Published: August 2, 2022

Category: Organic News, The Non-GMO Blog

An Illinois organic farming couple, Randy and Crystal Clair, have joined one of two lawsuits filed by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency against Carroll Family Farms, LLC, which owns a 5,000-hog confinement called County Line Swine in northern Adams County. The lawsuits claim Carroll Family Farms is operating the hog confinement with improper methods that have harmful impacts on local farmers, landowners, and residents.

The first lawsuit was originally filed January 31 and details 72 formal complaints from four property owners who live within 1.5 miles of County Line Swine. The property owners claimed a nuisance from livestock odors emanating from the hog CAFO (confined animal feeding operation) when it opened Aug. 1, 2019. The property owners reported experiencing nausea, headaches, eye irritation and respiratory irritation.

“The odors deprived the complainants of the use and enjoyment of their homes and limited their ability to work outside on their properties due to human health impacts,” the suit read.

The second suit was filed by the Clairs. The hog CAFO is less than ½ mile from the Clairs’ home. Shawn Peters, who owns a 65-acre parcel of land across the street from the CAFO, also joined the Clairs’ lawsuit.

Peters and the Clairs claim County Line Swine, which is owned by Ragan Peter, is “negligently and/or improperly operated, managed, and maintained because the defendants intentionally and/or negligently fail to follow appropriate operating procedures.”

The stench from the CAFO is forcing the Clairs to stay indoors and posing risks to their health; both Randy and Crystal have fought cancer. Manure runoff from the CAFO could also contaminate a lake on their organic farm that the Clairs rely on for irrigation and water for their compost operation. The Organic & Non-GMO Report detailed the problems the Clairs have had with the CAFO in 2020.

The Illinois EPA cited County Line Swine twice in 2020 for several violations, including discharge of contaminants, deposit of contaminants, and livestock and waste handling violations.

The suit from Peters and the Clairs requests that Peter, the defendant, “be found personally liable and to compensate the plaintiffs for damages as a result of the defendants’ acts and omissions.”

Crystal Clair says she wants her old life back in the home they bought in 1973.

“It’s almost like we’re living in a prison,” she said. “We want the smell to stop so the people in our neighborhood can be outside, so we can farm in peace, so we can just enjoy our property and go back to what it used to be.”

The Clairs’ attorneys include John Kotsatos from Easton, Pennsylvania, who has handled environmental nuisance cases for 14 years.

“I’ve done this long enough that I have not seen such a bad actor in (Peter) and what he’s done to create chaos to his direct line neighbors,” Kotsatos said. “We’re dealing with somebody who just, quite frankly, doesn’t care about using farming practices correctly and doesn’t care about his neighbors.”

Source: Muddy River News

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Organic & Non-GMO Insights August 2022