Dairy proposing major expansion in Winona County

Contact: Cathy Rofshus, 507-206-2608

Daley Farms of Lewiston, the largest feedlot in Winona County, is proposing a major expansion of its dairy operation, according to an Environmental Assessment Worksheet prepared by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA). The worksheet is open for public comment through Oct. 31 at 4:30 p.m.

The agency will hold an informational meeting on the proposal starting with an open house at 6 p.m. Oct. 16 at the Lewiston Community Center, 75 Rice St. Presentations explaining the proposal, MPCA environmental review and feedlot permitting will begin at 6:30 p.m., followed by time for questions from the public.

State agencies use the Environmental Assessment Worksheet to help decide whether a project requires a more extensive Environmental Impact Statement. The worksheet covers site location details, nearby resources and other elements, including wells, soil types, water use, manure management, air and odor emissions, and traffic.

Ben Daley, a partner in the dairy operation, proposes to increase the dairy herd from 1,728 cows and calves to 4,628 total. The MPCA and other state agencies use a measurement called an Animal Unit to equalize manure output from different types of animals. Animal Units at Daley Farms would increase from 2,275 to 5,968. Daley Farms owns and operates three dairy sites in Utica Township, Winona County. Daley intends to expand its existing dairy at one site, close the second site, and install open-lot runoff controls at the third site. The expansion at the main site would include a total confinement barn with 3,000 dairy cows, a rotary milking parlor, a manure storage basin, a feed storage pad, and stormwater runoff controls.

There are 29 homes within 1 mile of the facility and 13 feedlots within a 3-mile radius.

The expanded dairy would generate about 46 million gallons of manure and wastewater a year. The project site currently contains four manure basins with 22 million gallons of available storage. Daley would install one more manure basin, with 13.6 million gallons of available storage, as part of the project. In total, the existing and proposed manure basins would have storage capacity for 35.6 million gallons, enough for 281 days of operations at the main site.

Daley Farms would remove the manure in spring and fall, injecting it into cropland as fertilizer following an MPCA-approved manure management plan requiring at least 4,083 acres. More than 4,100 acres of cropland are available for land application among 42 manure application sites. Some of the sites have homes or recreational facilities nearby. Several of the sites have water features within the fields or nearby.

The project site and several manure application sites are near or within the drinking water supply management areas for the cities of Utica and Lewiston.

Several of the manure application sites include karst features such as sinkholes. The proposer would need to follow setbacks and other requirements in the manure management plan to protect sensitive features.

To reduce the chance of nitrogen leaching to groundwater, Daley Farms has agreed to do one or more of the following:

  • Delay manure applications in the fall until soil temperature is below 50 degrees
  • Plant cover crops when manure is applied early in the fall before soil temperatures are below 50 degrees and weather and field conditions are conducive for seeding a cover crop
  • Applying manure in the spring

The facility and manure application sites are all within the Root River or Mississippi River-Winona watersheds.

According to a study of air emissions from the expanded facility, it would meet air quality standards and odor guidelines. This study also took into account the surrounding feedlots and cumulative effects.

To access the complete worksheet for this project, go to the MPCA's Environmental Assessment Worksheets webpage. It’s also available by calling MPCA project manager Kim Grosenheider at 651-757-2170.

The proposed feedlot requires federal, state and county permits. The MPCA would issue an individual permit for the project under the National Pollution Disposal Elimination System (NPDES). The permit is also open for public comment through Oct. 31 at 4:30 p.m. The public notice is available on the MPCA Public Notices webpage. For a copy of the permit application or other information, contact MPCA permit writer Mark Gernes at 507-206-2643, mark.p.gernes@state.mn.us, or MPCA, 18 Wood Lake Dr. SE, Rochester, MN 55904.

To comment on both the environmental assessment worksheet and the permit, citizens may use this weblink: http://survey.mn.gov/s.asp?k=153730433478. Instead of using the weblink, they may send comments by mail to Kim Grosenheider, MPCA, 520 Lafayette Road N., St. Paul, MN 55155-4194.

In addition to the MPCA permit, this project will require a zoning variance from Winona County, which prohibits feedlot sites in excess of 1,500 Animal Units. When Winona County adopted its limit on Animal Units, it allowed existing feedlots over that the limit to continue at the same size. This means the county grandfathered in Daley Farms at 2,275 Animal Units. Because Daley is now proposing to increase in size, the dairy must apply for and receive a zoning variance from Winona County for the project.

The expansion would also require a water appropriation permit from the Minnesota Dept. of Natural Resources for two additional livestock watering wells that would each draw about 30 million gallons of water per year. That would bring the dairy’s total well water use – from its two existing wells and two additional wells — to 92 million gallons a year.