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December 06, 2005

But what about the smell test?

But can the place pass a smell test? The proposed pig plant in East Moline, I mean.

Smell is the sense most offended by the idea, given comments from the 300 or so people at a cut-short public hearing Monday on the deal East Moline and Triumph Foods are talking about.

Most of us know what pigs smell like, and we know what a slaughterhouse smells like. There's one just up the road, at Joslin, if anyone whats to drive by for a refresher course.

But forget the collective experience -- hi-tech negates it. That's the essence of the message Triumph chief executive officer Rick Hoffman delivered to the city council after the public hearing. Inside docks, frequent washings, state-of-the-art scrubbers for air-borne emissions, negative pressure and what not will make the place odorless.

Maybe he's right. Lot of smart people been working on the pig-stink problem for years. Even the geneticists are on it, trying to figure out to make pig poop smell like roses or whatever. Still, it'd be nice to get a whiff before East Moline signs on the dotted line.

Impossible, apparently. Sniffing Joslin doesn't count -- old tech stuff. No other plant's suggested, except the Triumph plant in St. Joseph, Mo., and well, it won't go into operation until January. So that precludes any smell test there if the city council actually does rush the deal through Dec. 19, when it's next of the agenda.

Mr. Hoffman didn't attend the public hearing that preceded the council meeting at which he spoke. Too bad. One guy suggested he'd withdraw his objections to the plan if Mr. Hoffman would buy land next to it and build a nice new house there.

Odor was hardly the only concern expressed at the hearing -- traffic, flooding, a likely influx of immigrants to man the production lines just a few among them. All things that deserve more consideration than they're likely to get in two weeks.

Even Monday's public hearing got rushed. Scheduled for 4:30-6:30, it got started 'bout 15 minutes late but was shut down precisely on time even though a dozen people who signed up to speak or ask questions didn't get to. That provoked some hootin' and hollerin', and mostly confirmed the notion many of the people already had -- the city doesn't care what they think.

I don't get the hurry-up part, though it's clear Triumph is a company in a hurry. Formed in 2003, its owners include some of the biggest hog producers in the country. Triumph has a marketing partner, a contract with a genetics company, one plant about to open and they're looking for another plant site -- the plant they plan here is said to be the largest in the world. Triumph is a vertical play, apparently with an eye toward making the "perfect" pig, perfectly processed and perfectly marketed. American ingenuity at work.

Course, salesmanship is an area of American ingenuity, too. Lots of pigs-in-pokes been sold over the years.

Now, about that smell test...

Posted by jcb at December 6, 2005 03:48 PM


jcb, isn't there any other location or any other company using the so-called state of the art "pig-sh*t is roses" technology, where one of the D/A reporters could go to see how it's working?

Posted by: paladin at December 7, 2005 12:26 PM