Media Contact: Cathy Rofshus, 507-206-2608
Mankato, Minn. -- The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) is seeking comments on an Environmental Assessment Worksheet prepared for Strobel Farms' proposed swine-finishing project in Blue Earth County. Comments will be accepted June 29 to July 29, 2009.
Strobel Farms, as operated by Greg Strobel, proposes to build two swine-finishing facilities, one in Section 34 and the other in Section 36 of McPherson Township. Each site will have two identical barns that hold up to 2,400 finishing hogs, or 720 animal units, each. The maximum capacity of the four barns (two at each site) will be 9,600 finishing swine, or 2,880 animal units. Animal units are a measurement used to compare differences in the amount of manure produced by livestock species. This measurement is standardized to the amount of manure produced on a regular basis by a slaughter steer or heifer. Government entities use the animal unit measurement for permitting and record-keeping purposes.
The proposed barns will be total-confinement, power-ventilated buildings, with manure stored in reinforced concrete pits under each barn. Strobel estimates that swine in the four barns will generate a total of 2.6 million gallons of manure per year. The four barns together have a storage capacity of about 4.2 million gallons (one year and seven months worth of manure) to accommodate any delay in manure removal and application.
Strobel plans to remove the manure once a year in the fall, over three days, from the pits under the barns. A licensed commercial applicator will apply the manure at rates recommended by the University of Minnesota Extension Service to farm fields and immediately incorporate it. The manure-application sites are within 11 miles of the barns, in Beauford, Mankato and McPherson townships.
About 24 homes are within one mile of the barns and about 12 homes are within one mile of the fields where the manure would be applied. The manure-application sites are also near a residential subdivision and mobile home court as well as the city of Mankato.
Most of the surrounding land is agricultural and rural in nature. The project sites are in the Le Sueur River watershed of the Minnesota River Basin. Nearby resources include a Waterfowl Production Area, Little Cobb River, Le Sueur River, public water supply wells, and one endangered species, the Eastern Spotted Skunk. To minimize any risk of manure running off application sites into the rivers, a commercial applicator will immediately incorporate the manure into the soil. Also, no manure will be applied within the protection area around the public drinking water wells. In addition, the Minnesota Dept. of Natural Resources expects no negative affect to the endangered species.
The MPCA estimates that odor emissions from the barns will range from 11 to 26 odor units, which is well below the state's faint odor threshold of 72 odor units.
The Environmental Assessment Worksheet (EAW) provides basic information about how a proposed project could potentially affect the environment and helps determine whether an Environmental Impact Statement, a more comprehensive environmental review, is needed. Interested parties may comment on the EAW during the public notice period from June 29 to July 29, 2009. Written comments must be received at the MPCA St. Paul office by 4:30 p.m. on July 29.
Copies of the Strobel EAW are available at the MPCA St. Paul office, 520 Lafayette Road N.; the MPCA Mankato office, 12 Civic Center Plaza, Suite 2165; and on the MPCA Web site at/news/eaw/index.html.
Send questions and comments on the Strobel EAW to Charles Peterson, Project Manager, MPCA, 520 Lafayette Road N., Saint Paul MN 55155-4194. Peterson can also be reached by phone at 651-757-2856, by fax at 651-757-2343, or by e-mail at email@example.com.