The Illinois Pork Producers Association (IPPA) knew it was going to be a tough year when Illinois Lt. Gov. Bob Kustra said unregulated mega-hog factories were the state's number one environmental threat.

Kustra told attendees to a January media luncheon at the Chicagoland Fishing, Hunting, Tackle and Outdoors Show, "Since I'm leaving office after 20 years, I no longer have to worry about the political impact of what I say. They've (the hog farming operations) already destroyed tourism in North Carolina. Now, as they seek to expand around the country they are coming here in droves. They tried to get into Wisconsin, but couldn't. But our laws are not nearly as restrictive, and so they are coming here."

Kustra is now leaving office to accept an out-of-state job.

At presstime, IPPA members were still trudging a well-worn path between their farms and the Illinois Capitol in Springfield. Two bills were pending that could have drastic implications for the state's beleaguered pork industry.

Contrary to Kustra's comments, when you take a closer look at the numbers, the state's pork industry has actually been experiencing a drastic decline. Hogs marketed in Illinois have slipped from 10 million in 1992 to 7.4 million in 1997, according to National Pork Board figures.

"I'm optimistic that we can have a sustainable pork industry in Illinois," says Rick Dean, a farrow-to-finish producer from LeRoy, IL, and president of the Illinois Pork Producers Association. Illinois agricultural groups have pulled together to both introduce sensible agricultural bills. One bill the agricultural groups backed called for mandatory manure management plans and required pork production facilities to be built to construction standards.

The bill was later amended by opponents to define "livestock facility" as including the fields on which manure is spread. This would have devastating consequences if fields could be used to determine setbacks, Dean relates.

"We continue to search for solutions that Illinois pork producers can live with, but when we sit down at the table to try to work out compromises with our detractors, it is evident our detractors are not interested in solutions or closure," Dean says. "In the meantime, individual family pork producers are hesitant to grow their businesses because of the uneasiness about what is going on in the legislature."

The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency has been giving increased scrutiny to odor associated with swine operations. Dean says this is especially frightening because of the current lack of sound scientific methods to monitor odor. A precedent-setting odor pollution case against a young couple producing pork in Illinois is now being battled out in the state's courts. The way this case is handled could impact the way all of America's pork producers operate, warns Dean.

The IPPA used non-checkoff funds to hire a public relations and issues management agency this year. According to Christine LaPaille, MWW/Agenda, Chicago, IL, the agency has worked to help Illinois pork producers get the positive messages about the industry in the public arena.

The agency helped organize a media campaign making the public aware of the IPPA's "Contract with Illinois." Provisions of the pork producers' contract with the state included promises that Illinois producers would continue to work diligently to utilize environmentally responsible methods of production and deliver safe pork products of the highest quality to the consumer.

Producers also promised to continue to contribute to the economy of the state by providing jobs and to safeguard public health and the environment.Illinois

The Illinois Pork Producers Association (IPPA) knew it was going to be a tough year when Illinois Lt. Gov. Bob Kustra said unregulated mega-hog factories were the state's number one environmental threat.

Kustra told attendees to a January media luncheon at the Chicagoland Fishing, Hunting, Tackle and Outdoors Show, "Since I'm leaving office after 20 years, I no longer have to worry about the political impact of what I say. They've (the hog farming operations) already destroyed tourism in North Carolina. Now, as they seek to expand around the country they are coming here in droves. They tried to get into Wisconsin, but couldn't. But our laws are not nearly as restrictive, and so they are coming here."

Kustra is now leaving office to accept an out-of-state job.

At presstime, IPPA members were still trudging a well-worn path between their farms and the Illinois Capitol in Springfield. Two bills were pending that could have drastic implications for the state's beleaguered pork industry.

Contrary to Kustra's comments, when you take a closer look at the numbers, the state's pork industry has actually been experiencing a drastic decline. Hogs marketed in Illinois have slipped from 10 million in 1992 to 7.4 million in 1997, according to National Pork Board figures.

"I'm optimistic that we can have a sustainable pork industry in Illinois," says Rick Dean, a farrow-to-finish producer from LeRoy, IL, and president of the Illinois Pork Producers Association.

Illinois agricultural groups have pulled together to both introduce sensible agricultural bills. One bill the agricultural groups backed called for mandatory manure management plans and required pork production facilities to be built to construction standards.

The bill was later amended by opponents to define "livestock facility" as including the fields on which manure is spread. This would have devastating consequences if fields could be used to determine setbacks, Dean relates.

"We continue to search for solutions that Illinois pork producers can live with, but when we sit down at the table to try to work out compromises with our detractors, it is evident our detractors are not interested in solutions or closure," Dean says. "In the meantime, individual family pork producers are hesitant to grow their businesses because of the uneasiness about what is going on in the legislature."

The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency has been giving increased scrutiny to odor associated with swine operations. Dean says this is especially frightening because of the current lack of sound scientific methods to monitor odor. A precedent-setting odor pollution case against a young couple producing pork in Illinois is now being battled out in the state's courts. The way this case is handled could impact the way all of America's pork producers operate, warns Dean.

The IPPA used non-checkoff funds to hire a public relations and issues management agency this year. According to Christine LaPaille, MWW/Agenda, Chicago, IL, the agency has worked to help Illinois pork producers get the positive messages about the industry in the public arena.

The agency helped organize a media campaign making the public aware of the IPPA's "Contract with Illinois." Provisions of the porkproducers' contract with the state included promises that Illinois producers would continue to work diligently to utilize environmentally responsible methods of production and deliver safe pork products of the highest quality to the consumer.

Producers also promised to continue to contribute to the economy of the state by providing jobs and to safeguard public health and the environment.