By Carolyn Johnsen
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Extra resources for Raising a stink: the struggle over factory hog farms in Nebraska
The case would reach the Nebraska Supreme Court twice. While the wheels of litigation slowly turned, two other small towns passed similar ordinances—Long Pine and Bassett in north-central Nebraska, where Premium Farms wanted to conﬁne a total of eighty-four thousand hogs on six sites in the watershed of Long Pine Creek, one of Nebraska’s few trout streams. By fall 2002 the Nebraska Supreme Court had not made a ﬁnal ruling on the Alma case. A decision either way is expected to settle an important state constitutional question, whether the state has the sole authority to regulate livestock operations and what, if any, authority rests with local governments.
There is an intensity to county board hearings that is seldom present at a hearing of the legislature. People serving on county boards and zoning commissions know personally most of those testifying at hearings. They are neighbors, customers, or members of the same church; their children go to school together and they are related by marriage. There were tense, crowded meetings in courthouses across the state as county ofﬁcials struggled to shape ordinances that neighbors and friends who had elected them could live with.
They were talking seventy-ﬁve to a hundred jobs, and those people would have to eat and they’d have to buy gas,” said Willets. ”4 But to move into Nance County, Bell Farms needed willing sellers. The company was offering up to seven times the market price for unirrigated land. Emil Dubas, then sixty-seven years old, had always lived and farmed within four miles of the Nance County farm where he grew up. When he was approached about selling his land, he didn’t take long to decline the offer, because Sand Livestock already had a fourteen-hundred-head farrowing operation about two miles from his farm.
Raising a stink: the struggle over factory hog farms in Nebraska by Carolyn Johnsen