Temporary permit approved for 15,400-head swine feedlot

Farm Forum

REDFIELD — Plans for a confined hog feedlot operation are a step closer to materializing after the proposal got a temporary permit Tuesday from the Spink County Planning and Zoning Commission.

But the approval didn’t come without opposition.

Camrose Hutterian Brethren applied for a temporary permit for a feedlot about 4 miles east and 3 miles north of Frankfort in Prairie Center Township. Approval of the temporary permit was needed before the colony could apply for a full permit with the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

County commissioners, who comprise the planning and zoning commission, approved the temporary permit 5-0.

The permit set limits of 1,200 sow, 2,600 nursery and 11,600 finisher swine.

A facility with more than 10,000 swine weighing less than 55 pounds is considered a large-scale operation by state standards.

According to the permit, animal waste would be “knifed” into nearby fields. The waste would be mixed with water from an Artesian well, then pumped into the ground.

Estimated water use would be 15 to 45 gallons per minute, according to Brian Friedrichsen, a senior engineer at Dakota Environmental who is working with the colony.

Doland resident Ron Starr raised concerns about the animal waste polluting a shallow aquifer.

“Artesian water destroys the ground,” Starr said.

Starr said the high saline content of Artesian water would hurt the soil quality and create runoff that would be difficult to contain, in his experience.

DENR already monitors wells in the state, but to ease concerns, commissioners encouraged the department to watch the well that would be tapped for water to mix with waste.

Friedrichsen said plans include a storage tank that can hold 270 days worth of waste, which is the minimum holding capacity required by DENR for controlled animal feedlots.

Commissioner Pat Kamp said water and waste management are handled by the state and that the county only deals with odor.

“The laws are already in place at the state level. Our part is the odor. That’s basically all we protect people from,” Kamp said.

Jon Gilbert, a nutrient management consultant with Prescription Ag who is working with the colony, said the estimated amount of water to be used is minor compared to other feedlots. He added that the soil would be monitored to ensure it isn’t overloaded with animal waste.

Some residents also raised concerns that truck traffic on township roads would increase because of the feedlot and cause more damage. That could cost taxpayers more for maintenance, they said.

Joe Kleinsassen, who represented the colony at the meeting, said there wouldn’t be a major increase in traffic.

“That operation shouldn’t create more than four trips a week on that road,” he said.

Commission Chairman David Albrecht asked what the consensus was among the township residents.

“There’s a lot of people that are strongly opposed to this,” said Frankfort resident Dane Lambert.

Albrecht lamented the lack of agreement between the township and colony.

“I wish we had more support from the townships. I’m not seeing a lot of local support here today,” he said.

Despite his reservations, Albrecht voted to approve the temporary permit.

The approval included a stipulation that Camrose Hutterian Brethren nullify an existing controlled animal feedlot operation permit for a turkey plant within miles of the swine facility site. Construction has not started on either operation.

Once the colony applies for a permit from DENR, people will have 30 days to submit written comments before the department issues its decision.

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