Swinish Behavior

Texas A&M's attempt to push an animal research center on a black neighborhood has raised a sour smell in College Station

So far, the evidence doesn't look good to Johnson. And A&M's actions haven't been of the sort to inspire confidence. Just a few weeks ago a court-ordered mediation of the Brushy Community's lawsuit went nowhere. And although a federal judge could shut down the entire operation if the Brushy residents win their suit, A&M is nonetheless pushing ahead with its project. Neighbors report that A&M construction crews are working hard six days a week. The university is claiming that it has all but eliminated what it says is the residents' most pressing concern, the pigs. Most of the university's pig production operation will go to a prison farm in Navasota, and only ten sows and their piglets (ten to 14 in a litter) and 75 non-breeding research gilts will be left in the final project.

To the residents, that seems like a typical A&M compromise: the university dictates the deal, and the community is supposed to accept it. And they still want to know how A&M can ignore something as basic as the standards of the American Society of Agricultural Engineers, which state that an animal breeding center should not be placed within one mile of a residential area. Many of the Brushy Community homes sit within 1,200 feet of the open waste-treatment ponds that the university is now busily digging.

Despite his concerns, Johnson's still inclined to build his house on his 16 acres near Brushy Creek. His land sits to the east of the livestock center, out of the way of the prevailing winds. But any waste lagoon, whether it is stocked with hog manure or cow and sheep manure, is likely to smell.

"Do I turn my back on my neighbors because I'm in the right place?" he said. "We'll probably be okay, but those people in the Brushy Community, they're going to get nailed.

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