Demand a Process that Allows for Real Public Participation in Environmental Review of Mega-Dairy Expansion

UPDATE (10/10/18): We have learned that Minnesota Pollution Control Agency Commissioner John Linc Stine is making a decision on this tomorrow, and we need calls into him by noon on Thursday, Oct. 11.

We need to take action to ensure that there is a process that provides for meaningful public participation and that fully evaluates the cost to our community resources and quality-of-life when it comes to a massive dairy expansion. Daley Farms on Highway 14 in Utica Township near Lewiston in southeastern Minnesota’s Winona County wants to more than double its dairy herd from 1,728 cows and calves to 4,628 total. This would make it the largest livestock feedlot in southeastern Minnesota, and among the largest in the state. This massive operation would annually use 92 million gallons of water and generate 46 million gallons of manure and wastewater in an area where karst geology channels contaminants from surface water deep into the ground.

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) is conducting a mandatory basic environmental assessment of the proposal called an Environmental Assessment Worksheet (EAW). An EAW’s purpose is to determine if an in-depth Environmental Impact Statement is needed (EIS). An EIS fully evaluates the potential harm of a major proposal such as this and considers ways to reduce the harm. The MPCA has released the 235-page EAW and given the public only until Oct. 31 to read it and respond with reasons why an EIS is necessary. This is during harvest—a very busy time for farmers. This short time frame makes it very difficult for the public to be meaningfully engaged. An informational meeting is scheduled for Oct. 16, beginning at 6 p.m., in Lewiston, which gives local people very little time to prepare.

Take Action So that this Process Works for Citizens

Contact MPCA Commissioner John Linc Stine at 651-757-2014 or john.stine@state.mn.us. If you have Twitter, his handle is @JLincStine. Ask him to extend the comment period so that it allows for meaningful public participation. These extensions have been granted in the past, especially on large, controversial projects.

Suggested Message:

“I am contacting you about the proposed Daley Farms EAW in Winona County. This is a massive proposal and would make it the largest livestock feedlot in our part of the state, with 4,628 cows and calves. It is very controversial—I am concerned and I know many of my neighbors are concerned. Thirty days to read a 235-page EAW and respond is not enough time, especially during harvest time. This comment period needs to be extended to November 30. The public informational meeting should also be held later in the fall when farmers are not in the middle of harvest. I want a process that works for people and this one doesn’t.”

More information on the Daley Mega-Dairy Expansion

The Daleys propose to add 2,900 more cows and calves to make their total herd size 4,628 animals. This would make this operation the largest feedlot in southeastern Minnesota and one of the largest in the entire state, and put it at 5,968 animal units, nearly four times the Winona County animal unit cap of 1,500 animal units. Daley Farms already exceeds the county’s feedlot limit because it was grandfathered in when the feedlot limit was originally passed.

Environmental Review

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has begun the basic environmental assessment of the project, which is called an Environmental Assessment Worksheet. The purpose of the worksheet is to determine whether an in-depth Environmental Impact Statement is needed. The law states that an EIS is required when a "project has the potential for significant environmental impact." Of course, a mega-dairy this size in a high-risk karst area where groundwater is already polluted will have a significant impact. MPCA Commissioner John Linc Stine makes the final decision on ordering an EIS.

A minimum 30-day public comment period is required as part of this process; it began Oct. 1 and ends Oct. 31, 2018. The MPCA is proposing a public information meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 16, beginning at 6 p.m., at the Lewiston Community Center. We will push the MPCA to extend this comment period and move the meeting to November.

The EAW is available online here: Daley Farms of Lewiston, LLP: 2018 Dairy Expansion - EAW (p-ear2-143a). This file is a large download. Many eyes on this proposal are necessary to fully understand and comment on it. LSP will be back in touch soon with details on how to comment.

Here is an article from the Winona Daily News with some additional information: Winona County dairy farm proposes major expansion; public hearing set for Oct. 16