Zumbrota Township Residents Call Out MPCA on Flawed Environmental Review

MPCA Fails to Include 4 homes & 13 Wells Within 1 Mile of Proposed Factory Farm

ZUMBROTA, Minn. – Twenty Zumbrota Township residents presented their concerns that a new factory hog farm proposal will endanger their air and water quality and displace family farms during a Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) public informational meeting in Zumbrota on Dec. 12. Citizens called on the MPCA to do a thorough and accurate environmental review and develop a transparent decision-making process. Residents left the meeting frustrated that the MPCA was unwilling to address their concerns.

“We’re providing the MPCA with basic information they should have known from the beginning,” said Zumbrota Township resident Kristi Rosenquist. “We’ve asked the MPCA to start the environmental review over and do it right. So far, they’ve refused.”

The proposed factory farm is a 4,700-hog feedlot with a 3.7 million-gallon liquid manure pit, proposed by Mike Kohlnhofer. The Kohlnhofer family operates an insurance agency in Lakeville, Minn., as well as six other factory farms. This proposal would be more than three times larger than any feedlot currently in Zumbrota Township.

During the public informational meeting, Zumbrota Township residents presented four issues that the MPCA should address:

  • A new thorough environmental review for the proposal must be done.
  • The decision on whether do an Environmental Impact Statement should be made at a public hearing at which citizens are allowed to testify.
  • The public comment period for the National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit ran concurrently with the public comment period for the original environmental review. The comment period for the permit needs to be done after the environmental review is complete.
  • Information about the NPDES permit, which should be readily available to the public, has been difficult to obtain and the MPCA is still not forthcoming about making it available after copies of it were requested two months ago.

Read the complete statement (with background information) from Zumbrota Township residents on the proposed factory hog farm here.

Citizens emphasized that, remarkably, basic information, such as locations of homes that was readily available through a Google search, was missing in the environmental review. Also missing were 13 wells which citizens rely on for drinking water. The citizens explained that they will be expecting the MPCA to change course during this process, publishing an accurate environmental review and respecting citizen input.

“It is the MPCA’s responsibility to represent the citizens they serve,” said Zumbrota Township resident and Land Stewardship Project member Kathy Bramble. “This is our livelihood that is in jeopardy. Yet, the MPCA has treated the proposers of the factory farm like customers and us like a nuisance.”