MONTICELLO —  It's hard to get people to come to meetings in White County, population 24,182. 

But a few years ago, so many people packed a meeting that the county had to relocate to a high school gym. 

"People don't usually get this excited," said Colin Betts, White County's Building and Planning Executive Director.

The topic at hand? A concentrated animal feeding operation, or CAFO. 

White County isn't the only one. Hundreds packed Jasper County Fairgrounds Monday as the county discussed CAFOs this week. Dozens signed a petition to block a CAFO in Carroll County in April. 

"There (are) 22 houses on my road, and nobody wants (CAFO)," said Gary Wolfe, who brought the petition to the county commissioners' meeting. "We felt like we had a chance." 

One of the most visible conflicts over CAFOs played out nearly five years ago near Camp Tecumseh.

Camp Tecumseh reached a settlement with Smith-Erickson Farms, which wanted to build a CAFO a half mile or so away from the camp, late last year. But White County Commissioner David Diener is upset over how this conflict has played out, and how the commissioners were portrayed in this conflict. 

There are a lot of statewide and countywide regulations on CAFOs to protect people from their potential danger, Diener said. 

"There is a misunderstanding of where CAFO are allowed," he said. "You can't put it in every corner."

So, what is a CAFO? Why is it so controversial? And what actions have counties and the state taken on this issue?


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