Riverview LLP, a diversified agribusiness in Morris, Minn., has proposed building a new confinement dairy in Chippewa County.
The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency recently released for public review a 252-page draft permit and environmental assessment worksheet (EAW), including estimated greenhouse gas emissions for the proposed dairy.
Riverview proposes to build a 10,500-head dairy farm in Section 23 of Grace Township, Chippewa County. The location is about 23 miles west of Willmar, on the south side of State Highway 40. Grace Dairy will house Jersey cows in a total-confinement freestall barn. Liquid manure and dairy wastewater will be collected and stored in clay-lined basins with impermeable covers, the draft permit states.
According to an MPCA-approved manure management plan, cattle manure will be removed from the basins and injected into cropland as fertilizer in the fall. The dairy farm needs approximately 7,300 acres of cropland to apply the 85 million gallons of manure generated annually. Riverview has agreements with landowners for manure application covering more than 12,114 acres on 82 manure application sites in Swift, Chippewa and Yellow Medicine counties.
Riverview must submit an annual report to the agency on manure production, land application and any discharges. The approved manure management plan is an integral and enforceable part of the feedlot permit, MPCA notes.
Riverview will determine agronomic rates using the University of Minnesota’s recommendations for manure application based on the previously harvested crop, the available nutrients, yield goals and the crop the farmer will grow.
MPCA estimates that about 76,000 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent will be produced annually from the dairy. These emissions may be offset, in part, by planting more alfalfa and other cover crops that sequester greenhouse gas.
Permit application to withdraw water from aquifer
Riverview has applied to the state Department of Natural Resources for a permit to withdraw up to 120 million gallons per year of groundwater. Long-term monitoring of the source aquifer will be required as a condition of an issued permit.
Riverview has other dairy facilities in Minnesota and South Dakota, and heifer ranches in Arizona and New Mexico. In 2018, it reportedly owned 92,000 milk cows at multiple facilities. Riverview runs two other business segments — beef and crop. Its beef business, called Wulf Cattle, operates in Minnesota, South Dakota and Nebraska.
The public may submit written comments on the Grace Dairy EAW until 4:30 p.m. April 29. A National Pollutant Disposal Elimination System (NPDES) permit for construction and operation of the dairy farm is on public notice concurrently.
The EAW for this project is available on the MPCA website. It is also available by emailing Jenna Ness at [email protected], calling her at 651-757-2276, or sending written comments to her at the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, 520 Lafayette Road N., St. Paul, MN 55155-4194.
A public notice for the NPDES individual operating permit was posted March 29 on the MPCA website. Dana Leibfried, of the MPCA in Marshall, is accepting comments on the permit by email at [email protected], telephone by 507-421-7648, or by mail at Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, 504 Fairgrounds Road, Suite 200, Marshall, MN 56258.
Comments on the EAW should address the accuracy and completeness of information, potential impacts that are reasonably expected to occur that warrant further investigation, and the need for an environmental impact statement.