Meetings Set with MPCA Assistant Commissioner & Governor Dayton; Press Conference to be held at 12:30 p.m. in front of MPCA Office in St. Paul
NEWBURG TOWNSHIP, Minn. — Dozens of family farmers, business owners, members of the Amish community and rural residents who live near a proposed factory hog farm in southeastern Minnesota’s Fillmore County will be traveling to Saint Paul on Tuesday, July 3, to call for an in-depth environmental review of the proposed Catalpa factory hog farm in Newburg Township. The bus trip is organized by the Land Stewardship Project (LSP) and Responsible Agriculture in Karst Country (RAKC).
Neighbors of the proposed 4,980-sow swine farrowing facility will hold a press conference in front of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) headquarters (520 Lafayette Road N., St. Paul) at 12:30 p.m. Speakers will include Pastor Pam Seebach of Newburg United Methodist Church and local farmers Mark Spande and Dayna Burtness. Following the press conference, residents will meet with and deliver comments to MPCA Assistant Commissioner Shannon Lotthammer, and meet with Governor Mark Dayton at the Capitol.
The proposed Catalpa factory hog farm will generate 7.3 million gallons of liquid manure annually and use 8.8 million gallons of the area’s groundwater per year (220 million gallons of groundwater over 25 years). In addition, it is proposed to be built in Minnesota’s vulnerable karst area, which is composed of porous limestone that creates sinkholes and disappearing springs. This geology can allow surface pollution to enter the groundwater in a matter of hours. As a result, this part of the state has long had problems with groundwater pollution.
“My church in Newburg Township already faces nitrate pollution,” said Seebach. “We certainly don’t need a massive factory hog farm and millions of gallons of hog manure seeping into the karst landscape.”
Following an MPCA informational meeting in Mabel on June 19, which was attended by a record-breaking 400 community members, Spande, who is a local farmer, LSP member and RAKC leader, said, “We are asking the MPCA to protect the viability of our rural community, human health, our water, our local economy and our future by following the law and ordering an Environmental Impact Statement.”
Currently, the proposal is undergoing an Environmental Assessment Worksheet (EAW), the first step in environmental review to determine if an in-depth Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is needed. An EIS fully considers environmental impacts and analyzes how and if the project can be built in a way that mitigates potential environmental harm. State law requires that if the project has the potential for significant environmental impacts, then there must be an EIS. MPCA staff have never ordered an EIS on a factory farm, a decision that ultimately needs to be made by MPCA Commissioner John Linc Stine. Neighbors of the proposed factory hog farm intend to make history by securing an EIS on the Catalpa facility. Local residents and family farmers have already submitted over 300 comments calling for an EIS.