SALEM, Ohio – Things are changing at Buckeye Egg Farm, and managers hope neighbors and critics can open their eyes to the new way of business.
According to Buckeye Egg Farm’s director of operations, Bill Leininger, farm supporters keep coming out of the woodwork as he and other managers hear support from local businesses, residents and farmers to keep the layer barns open.
“Even our most outspoken critic in Croton has changed his tune and is saying ‘Let them stay open,'” Leininger said.
Support, oppose. Some groups of residents living close to Buckeye’s barns in four counties still hold up their lawsuits against the farm.
“We’re still trying to work with a lot of those people who oppose us, discussing possibilities of how we can work together,” Leininger said.
Farm opponents did not return phone calls for comment.
Leininger and other officials are pleased at the signs of support they’re seeing.
Farm backers have identified the significant impact Buckeye plays on the local economy, he said.
On the farm. The farm demands at least 10 million bushels of grain per year for feed, and since the farm doesn’t have rail access, the grain is all trucked in from local farms by local trucking companies.
Dick Fisher, who farms 1,350 acres 12 miles from the Croton farm, can see the benefits firsthand.
Fisher sends nearly all of his 450 acres of corn to Buckeye Egg each year, and maintains a hauling business that delivers 10 loads of soybean meal to the farm each day.
At one time, Fisher was delivering 16 loads of soybean meal a day, six days a week.
“If the state would end up closing this place, the biggest loss would be local farmers losing a great corn outlet,” Fisher said.
Fisher said Buckeye’s grain bid has at times been up to a dime more than other local elevators, giving farmers an added premium and saving them transportation costs to Columbus or Marion elevators.
Trying to be good. Besides selling grain and his hauling services to the farm, Fisher serves on the Hartford Fair Board and is a Trenton Township trustee – all positioning him to see around the farm at all angles.
“I see them as trying to be really good to the locals. Most people with an ag background want to see the farm stay. For those with no ag background, the farm is a big pain in the backside because they don’t see except what’s on TV,” he attested.
In the past year, Fisher said he’s seen the impact of new managers. He said he’s seen the farm trying harder to control manure, wastewater and the fly situation.
“A lot of the bad publicity still has to do with [Anton] Pohlmann. There was the right way, the wrong way and the German way,” he said.
Other locals. Leininger said the farm provides a $400,000 tax base to the communities where its barns are located.
“People really don’t have a concept of what closing this place would do [to the community.] If they slam the doors and say you’re closed and out of business, it’s unreal,” Dick Fisher said.
A new leaf. “A lot of the positive information doesn’t get played for whatever reason, but conditions have changed,” Leininger said.
“Were there problems? Yes. Are we perfect? No, but we’re heading in the direction of being an asset to the community and good stewards to the environment.”
“We surely don’t want any letdowns,” Leininger said.
(Reporter Andrea Myers welcomes reader feedback by phone at 1-800-837-3419, ext. 22, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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