MPCA reviews swine feedlot expansion in Otter Tail County

Contact: Dan Olson, 218-846-8108

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) today released its draft permit and an environmental assessment worksheet (EAW) for Otter Wings LLP’s proposed swine facility expansion in Otter Tail County, near Sebeka. The company seeks to expand its facility to accommodate approximately 7,500 hogs.

Otter Wings plans to modify two existing barns and add four additional barns, a structure for storing deceased animals, and a water supply well. The expansion and modifications will accommodate up to 5,189 hogs over 300 pounds, 1,600 hogs from 55 to 300 pounds, and 800 hogs less than 55 pounds. The facility was originally permitted in 2019 to accommodate 2,496 hogs over 300 pounds. Otter Wings LLP plans to begin housing animals at the site this month (February 2020). The new total-confinement style barns will have slatted floors; manure will pass through into concrete liquid-manure storage areas. Total confinement operations reduce the potential for air and odor emissions.

State agencies use the EAW to help decide whether a more extensive environmental impact statement is needed. The EAW describes the project’s potential effects on nearby land uses, geography, bodies of water or groundwater, and wildlife and habitat. It also details air and vehicle emissions, dust, traffic, noise, and odors that the project might produce.

As part of the EAW, the MPCA estimated that total GHG emissions from the expanded Otter Wings feedlot would equal approximately 910 tons of carbon dioxide per year. The agency made the estimate using a calculator developed by the U.S. EPA, which takes into account emissions from animal digestion (methane), manure storage (methane and nitrous oxide), and manure land application (nitrous oxide) and then converts the tons per source to tons of carbon dioxide for ease of reporting and comparing.

In January 2020, the MPCA determined that it will estimate GHG emissions for all large feedlot projects that require environmental review. The MPCA uses GHG emissions inventories in other environmental review, including for energy and ethanol projects. Now, the Environmental Quality Board (EQB) is also studying how state and local governments can effectively use environmental review to consider potential climate impacts.

Otter Wings also has outlined additional steps it will take to reduce odors both at the facility and during the land application of manure. The company will hire a firm to land apply manure on up to 886 nearby acres, primarily in the spring prior to planting, in summer after the first hay cutting, and in the fall after harvest. The number of manure application days will typically be less than 10 days per year.

The Otter Wings environmental assessment worksheet and draft permit are available on the MPCA web site. Mail or email comments by 4:30 pm. on Wednesday, March 11, 2020. For copies of the documents or to provide written comments:

  • Environmental assessment worksheet — Charles Peterson (651-757-2856) MPCA, 520 Lafayette Road North, St. Paul, MN 55155-4194
  • Feedlot permit — Molly Costin (218-846-8114) MPCA, 714 Lake Ave., Ste. 220, Detroit Lakes, MN 56501

For more information on greenhouse gas emissions in feedlot environment review, visit the MPCA web site.