For seven generations and more than 300 years, the Hofer family creates pigs in Meggen. But now your pigsty has to be closed. This was decided by the Department of Space and Economy (Rawi) in March this year. The reason: The stable is very close to the living area. A newcomer neighbor complained about the pigs' bad smell and informed the authorities of the case with a lawsuit. This, although the neighbor already knew before moving of near the farm.
The situation leads farmer Kaspar Hofer to need money. He can not close the stable because half of his income depends on him. So he has to build a new stable – at least 58 meters from the residential area, as required by law. He has the right land, but he lacks the money he needs. For this reason, the Hofer family collects donations online. More than 1 million francs should come together.
Time is running out
The time is short: until May 2020, Hofer has to close his sty. If works for the new building have not yet begun, that means the end of the yard, says Kaspar Hofer at the request of our newspaper. He currently runs four stables. In the new building, the use of all these stables will be united; So he should provide shelter for 20 pigs, 24 cows and young cattle.
"We have been planning for a long time to build a great Schüür," says Kaspar Hofer. "But we wanted to finance it with our own savings, but now everything has to go very fast, which throws this plan on the pile." So the donation campaign, in which the Hofers helps a good friend and neighbor.
Anger about the law
"When the story started three years ago with the neighbor's complaint, I had a lot of anger and sleepless nights," says Hofer. This is no longer the case. Now Hofer is particularly angry with the law that forces him to build a new building. "I do not understand the law," Hofer said.
"The law is unjust and illogical. Supposedly, the stable is very close to the living area. At the same time, the residential area came close to us, not the other way around. We were always farmers.
Kaspar Hofer is visibly moved when he talks about his farm. "Even my father had financial problems, we always had to fight, sometimes things got really tight, but we always managed to survive," recalls Hofer. "We are farmers of body and soul. We fill a lot of energy in our backyard. He is ours and unique. Losing it hurts. But apparently the laws are stronger than we are. "
The Hofer family had an elaborate operational concept; This brings a good future to the farm. Hofer also has two children who would like to continue running: Balz (25) and Jakob (21). Taking a loan for construction, however, was extremely difficult, as it takes more than 50 years for Hofer to pay for it. However, he continues to seek long-term private loans.
The fundraiser has been in operation since Saturday. Eleven donors have been found; they contribute a total of 1,700 francs. "So much remains to be done," Hofer says with a grin. But the whole family is happy with the support they receive: "We thank the whole heart to all the people who help us!" Hofer can not and does not want to go to court. "If I had enough money for a trial, I could start building the Schüür right away," he says. Only if he does not have the money in time, he wants to legally get a delay in closing the tent.
Canton of Lucerne is cloudy
The Canton of Lucerne remains vacant at the request of our newspaper. The canton is currently working on several ongoing procedures affecting the farm in Meggen, writes Judith Setz, communications officer for the Department of Construction, Environmental and Economic Affairs. All of these procedures deal with odor emissions and possible relocation.
"The calculation and assessment of minimum distances in livestock farming is complex," Setz writes. Canton puts farmers online an Excel file to calculate the minimum available distance. The canton does not provide any information on the actual reasons for Rawi's decision in Meggen's case. Why a residential area was created near the stable remains open as well.
The problem of odor emissions is not new in the Canton of Lucerne. One Entlebuch farmer, for example, lured three times in federal court because of the smell of his stye – until the decision was made to close the barn. "The settlement area is becoming increasingly dense, hence the potential for increased conflict," says Jakob Lütolf, president of the Lucerne farmers' association.
Lütolf understood both sides: "For the locals, the excessive smell is certainly not pleasant." But for farmers, the situation was a big challenge. Because many depend on raising animals. "If you do away with that income, the farmer will face economic problems." To reduce emissions of ammonia and odor, the association is launching a resource project. For eight years, companies want to try different approaches on farms.