REYNOLDSBURG, Ohio - The Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) is accepting comments on a draft Permit to Operate (PTO) for Sheldon Farms located in Washington Township at 9612 Township Road 64 in Kenton. Owned and operated by Kurt Sheldon, the Hardin County farm is in the Auglaize Watershed.

ODA issued a Review Compliance Certificate to Shelton Farms in 2004 to operate for a period of five years, after which time the facility was required to apply for a Permit to Operate. Sheldon has applied for a renewed operating permit and met the necessary Ohio Administrative Code requirements. This PTO is also valid for a five-year period, at which time the owner would again be required to renew the operating permit.

Any person may submit comments on the draft permit for Sheldon Farms and request a public meeting. Both must be in writing. Comments or public meeting requests must be hand-delivered or mailed to the ODA Livestock Environmental Permitting Program (LEPP) office at 8995 East Main St., Reynoldsburg, Ohio 43068 no later than 5 p.m. on Aug. 2, 2010. Comments received after this date will not be considered by the director before issuing the final permit. Where there is significant public interest, the director will hold a public meeting.

Copies of the draft Permit to Operate for Sheldon Farms may be reviewed or copies made at the ODA Livestock Environmental Permitting Program in Reynoldsburg. The permit can also be viewed at the Hardin Soil and Water Conversation District Office, 12751 St. Rt. 309W in Kenton. Those interested should call the SWCD office at 419-673-0456, Ext. 3, and make an appointment. Written comments cannot be submitted to the Hardin SWCD office.

Overview of current operation

The existing farm has a design capacity of 4,000 swine over 55 pounds that are in four buildings, each housing 1,000 hogs. Manure is collected in a pit beneath each barn that can store 304 days of manure production. The hogs produce about 2 million gallons of manure each year that will be applied as a replacement for commercial fertilizer to 582 acres of land Sheldon Farms has in a corn, wheat and soybean rotation.

Draft Permit to Operate

A complete Manure Management Plan is provided in this draft Permit to Operate, which also outlines inspections and monitoring that must be completed by the facility.

An Insect and Rodent Control plan is also required to minimize the presence and negative effects of insects and rodents.

A Mortality Management Plan is required for the disposal of dead livestock. Approved methods of disposal are burying, landfilling, burning, rendering and composting. Sheldon Farms utilizes composting as its primary method of disposal.

An Emergency Response Plan is also required to ensure that accidents or emergencies are handled quickly and efficiently to maintain the safety of the environment, wildlife and water supplies and resources.

Finally, an Operating Record is contained in the draft Permit to Operate that includes all forms and information that must be maintained by the facility to show compliance with ODA's rules and the permit. The Operating Record is reviewed by the department a minimum of twice annually and includes inspection of the manure storage structures, manure characterization, land application, insect and rodent control, and mortality management.