SALEM, Ohio – According to at least two members of a citizens group concerned about the impacts of Buckeye Egg Farm, the company won’t get away with pulling a fast one on its neighbors.
Permit violations have still occurred since ‘new’ management has taken over, according to Robert and Rosella Bear, who live near the Marseilles egg farm.
But according to their records, the ‘new’ management isn’t quite so new. And neither are their problems.
From the start. Buckeye Egg was started as Croton Egg Farm when German Anton Pohlmann purchased 2,200 acres of farmland near Croton, Ohio, in early 1980. He leased the facilities to Don Hershey and Richard McGrath, collectively known as AG Products. AG Products formed Croton Egg Farms in 1981.
The first farm in Croton opened in 1982. By 1984, the farm had nearly 5 million hens caged in Licking County.
A certificate of limited partnership filed in Delaware in 1988 named Richard McGrath, Andrew Hansen and Samuel Chestnutt general partners in AgriGeneral Company.
A general information sheet from the company says “the primary reason for forming AgriGeneral Company in 1988 was to prepare for the acquisition of Croton Egg Farms’ assets … in 1992.”
That acquisition included 3.2 million layers in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Kentucky. Expansion began soon afterward.
Bought out. In October 1993, Anton Pohlmann and his son, Marcus, bought out the three general partners.
Anton Pohlmann also owned Europe’s largest poultry farm – a 7 million bird operation in Germany – until 1996.
At that time, the elder Pohlmann was convicted of cruelty to animals and violating drug laws in Germany. He was fined $2 million and sentenced to two years probation. He was also banned for life from owning animals in that country.
Fast forward to present. In the face of opposition and millions in fines, owner Anton Pohlmann handed the farm’s daily management to CLM Group in July 2002.
In early May 2003, the management was again turned over, this time to Don Hershey and Sam Chestnutt – both previously involved in the farm – under the name Ohio Fresh Eggs.
Up for sale. Pohlmann is trying to sell each farm; a permit to operate the Croton farm has been submitted to the department of agriculture in the name of Ohio Fresh Eggs.
It’s also reported that Ohio Fresh and Pohlmann have signed letters of agreement for the sale of the Croton farm.
Ise America, based in Galena, Md., and owners of 6.7 million layers, has filed permit to operate applications for the Wyandot and Hardin County farms. The company bought the assets of the northern farms in January.
Ise was the nation’s 11th largest egg producer in 2002.
Confident for future. “I am confident this farm’s facilities can be assets to their communities if properly managed. If a prospective new owner provides us with a complete, comprehensive plan under the new rules, this department will consider it,” said Ohio Agriculture Director Fred L. Dailey.
“So far, we have permit applications from prospective new owners for all of the Buckeye Egg Farm facilities, but none are complete under the law.”
For sale or not, neighbors of the farm are still not pleased.
“[Buckeye Egg managers] say they’re trying to make things better, but we’re not convinced,” Robert Bear said, noting the same violations are still continuing.
“They want us to think things will be better, with these new names, but we know better,” he said.
“Around here, we’ve seen too many promises not kept.”
(Reporter Andrea Myers welcomes reader feedback by phone at 1-800-837-3419, ext. 22, or by e-mail at email@example.com.)
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