Open for comment: Environmental review for proposed hog expansion in Faribault County

Contact: Cathy Rofshus, 507-206-2608

Rochester, Minn. — Johnson Pork Producers of rural Frost in Faribault County is proposing an expansion of its hog business. Feedlot operator Lucas Johnson plans to double the number of finishing hogs from 2,400 in one existing barn to a total of 4,800 in two barns. As required by state rules, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) completed an Environmental Assessment Worksheet (EAW) on the expansion, which is open for public comment through Sept. 7.

State agencies use the EAW to decide if a more complete Environmental Impact Statement is needed. The worksheet covers site location details, nearby resources including wells, soil types, water use, manure management, air and odor emissions, traffic and other elements.

Located in section 21 of Rome Township, about six miles southwest of the city of Frost, the farm operation would build one additional barn with a concrete manure pit underneath.

Manure management is one concern with feedlots. According to the EAW, the expanded feedlot would generate about 1.45 million gallons of manure per year. The total manure storage capacity would be 1.84 million gallons, with the extra storage designed to prevent overflow problems. Once a year in the fall, the farmer would pump or haul the manure to tankers for application to cropland as fertilizer. Johnson owns or rents the land application sites, all located in Rome Township.

The barn and manure application sites are zoned agricultural and used for crop production. Five homes are located within one mile of the feedlot and application sites, including one owned by a family member of the proposer.

State rules prohibit manure application within a certain distance of homes, churches and cities, as well as lakes, streams, open tiles and wells.

Air quality is another concern with feedlots. Based on a computer simulation, the expanded feedlot would meet state air quality standards and would not significantly increase odors.

The EAW for this project is available on the MPCA’s Environmental Assessment Worksheet webpage.  It’s also available by calling Beth Tegdesch at 651-757-2100. Comments, which must be in writing, should go to Laura Hysjulien of the MPCA’s Environmental Review Unit, at laura.hysjulien@state.mn.us or by U.S. Mail to MPCA, 520 Lafayette Road N., St. Paul, MN  55155-4194.

The proposed feedlot requires federal, state and county permits. The MPCA will issue coverage under the National Pollution Disposal Elimination System and State Disposal System permit. The issuance of the permit also requires a public notice. This is available on the MPCA’s Public Notices webpage (scroll down to Aug. 8 date). Comments on the permit, which must be in writing, should be summited to Desiree Hohenstein of the MPCA feedlot staff at desiree.hohenstein@state.mn.us or MPCA, 520 Lafayette Road N., St, Paul, MN  55155-4194.
All comments must be received by 4:30 p.m. on Sept. 7.