Concerns continue regarding feedlot permits

In regards to the Feb. 18 Bluff Country Reader update on the status of the Catalpa Ag project, there appears to be no clear and final decision.

During the hearing process I considered attending and sharing our experience but didn’t want to speak up. However, because it may resurface, I’d like to share the following regarding the MPCA (Minnesota Pollution Control Agency). I do not mean to villainize them or any other government agency. I just want to note that once the large-scale operation is permitted it will likely expand. Here’s what we learned.

Last year my husband and I moved to Fillmore County from a metro-area township where we had a 1,000-animal-unit feedlot bordering our property. The feedlot owner lived on site and semi-annually opened his lagoon to drain the contents through the field tile into a tile drainage ditch that bordered our property. I finally took the risk of reporting it to the MPCA. About six months later the MPCA had concluded the owner was to be fined and they called us. They asked if we were concerned about retaliation from the feedlot owner. It was obvious we were the source of the MPCA case against the owner as the field tile outlet was only visible from our property. It ran crystal clear year-round except each time he dumped and then the slurry would gush out under pressure for a couple days.

In addition, the county or MPCA had a water quality monitoring system at the outlet of the wetland into which this effluence was discharged. The monitoring system recorded these spikes in pollution for short periods of time, a couple times each year. This feedlot was and is still the only feedlot in the township and on this waterway. The source of these spikes was clear. It also went on for years according to neighbors.

Finally, as a result of the Catalpa Ag project, I researched information on our old neighboring feedlot. Amazingly, the MPCA has granted a permit to double their animal units from 1,000 to 2,000.

I was disappointed as the MPCA’s hands are often tied. For one, the county/MPCA had enough information from the water quality monitoring to warrant further investigation into this feedlot operation. It took a private citizen report, taking a sample and their visit to get this stopped. However, that feedlot was granted a permit to double its operation sometime between the violation and now.

There is also one last item I recently came across. There is a documentary on YouTube titled “H.O.P.E.” It is primarily a discussion of disease related to the standard American diet. However, at the 48-minute mark, it shows factory farming of pigs. I’m probably politically incorrect to state animal cruelty is unnecessary and disgusting. However, I’d advise taking a minute to look at that portion of the documentary (or all). Additionally, “H.O.P.E.” gives a breakdown of the number of gallons of water necessary to get a serving of animal-based food to the table. Where there is a concern for a clean water supply in this area, those numbers were astounding.

Andrea Walsh