April 09, 2020

Potato farmer seeks to establish big pig-feeding plant in Limestone

LIMESTONE — A Caswell potato farmer is interested in establishing a swine-feeding operation in Limestone that would initially raise about 1,000 animals at a time.

A public hearing on the proposal made by Gilles Michaud, a potato and grain farmer, was held Thursday night by the Limestone Planning Board.

According to Limestone’s town manager, Paul Beaulieu, the proposed operation would be located on the Murphy Road, which borders the communities of Fort Fairfield and Caribou.

Meanwhile, the Maine Legislature is considering a moratorium on new piggeries with more than 500 animals until May 1, 1999. The restriction is a part of proposed legislation that would create a mangement plan for the waste created by large-scale animal feeding operations.

Once the moratorium is in place, a Maine Department of Agriculture task force will work on manure disposal standards for farms to follow.

The Legislature’s Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry has yet to take a final vote on the bill before it goes to the full Legislature.

During Thursday night’s hearing, Beaulieu said that most opposition came from property owners from the towns of Fort Fairfield and Caribou. It appeared that Limestone residents were not opposed to the piggery.

If approved by the planning board, construction could begin in about a year, the town manager said.

Michaud owns farmland and equipment in Limestone.

Michaud’s proposal is the latest in a series of attempts to start a large-scale piggery in Aroostook County. There have been attempts by a Quebec-based firm to start an operation near Cross Lake and in New Sweden. The firm abandoned its effort at Cross Lake for financial reasons, while New Sweden voters approved a moratorium on commercial and industrial development in the town.

The Michaud proposal is not associated with the Quebec firm, according to Deborah Michaud, Gilles Michaud’s wife.

The planning board plans tentatively to meet on Feb. 9 to further discuss the issue. A date by which to make a decision on the proposal has not been set, according to Beaulieu.

Gilles Michaud, who grows about 1,000 acres each of potatoes and grain, was not available for comment on his plans.

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