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Jackrabbit official: Never promised there'd be no odor

The odor caused by Jackrabbit Family Farms keeps nosing its way into Davison County Commission meetings. Nearly 30 supporters of the rural Mount Vernon hog-raising facility crammed into the Davison County Commission Chambers on Tuesday in respons...

The odor caused by Jackrabbit Family Farms keeps nosing its way into Davison County Commission meetings.

Nearly 30 supporters of the rural Mount Vernon hog-raising facility crammed into the Davison County Commission Chambers on Tuesday in response to the most recent set of complaints from the farm's neighbors.

In early October, eight opponents of Jackrabbit Farms appeared before the commission to share their concerns that the odor caused by the farm's manure pits had yet to improve since opening in 2013.

In response to the continued opposition, shareholders, facility managers and supportive neighbors appeared before the commission to negate the claims that Jackrabbit Farms and the facility's management organization, Pipestone System, have not done enough reduce the farm's odor.

Shawn Simpson, vice president and general counsel for Pipestone System, was the first to respond to the opposition's claims that the facility's biofilters were not satisfactory.

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"We didn't make any promises that the facility was not going to have an odor from time to time," Simpson said. "That's not to say that we don't take measures and actions to mitigate those odors when we can."

Simpson told the commission that Pipestone System has committed nearly $100,000 in odor reduction, including the installation of biofilters and approximately $8,000 annually on manure pit additives.

Although Jackrabbit Farms is not obligated to reduce the odor, Simpson said, they are attempting to mitigate the smell out of respect to their neighbors.

Because Jackrabbit's attempts to reduce the smell have been unsuccessful in the eyes of their neighbors, Commission Denny Kiner is doing his homework to try to find a solution.

"We're here to try to make it better for our citizens," Kiner said.

To make life better for his fellow Davison County residents, Kiner has researched academic studies to see what similar facilities are doing for odor reduction. Kiner's research found that installation of an olfactometer is the first step.

An olfactometer measures the intensity of an odor in a specific area. This would offer Jackrabbit Farms and Pipestone System the ability to monitor the emissions of odors near the facility to determine if more work needs to be done to address what neighbors perceive as an issue.

It's creative steps such as the use of an olfactometer that Kiner believes could help make Jackrabbit Farms and Davison County a success story for other hog farms in South Dakota.

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"I think we need due diligence to do absolutely anything we can to reduce any potential problems that may arise in the future," Kiner said. "And if we were to do that, we'll be a shining example for the rest of the producers in the state."

Other business

During the regular meeting Tuesday, the commissioners:

• Approved a 7.9 percent increase for the 2016 health insurance rates.

• Held an executive session regarding personnel and increased wages for three Davison County Jail Sergeants. Connie Harr received an increase to $20.25 an hour and Ginger Faas and Tom Kulm received an increase to $19.75 per hour.

• Approved the Department of Equalization's hiring of Jon Horton as an assessor at the rate of $14 per hour.

• Acknowledged the volunteer work of James Schorzmann, who has driven the Disabled American Veterans van for more than 800 hours.

• Approved bills, accepted automatic supplements and approved a special dispensation to Tech Solutions to allow the company to work in the Davison County Courthouse on a backup battery system while the building is empty.

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