Several friends called our attention to material that originates in a post on the Land Stewardship Project's website, Act Now to Keep Rural Minnesota Strong & Family Farmers on the Land. Buried under a worthy call to action, we find this disturbing passage:
Rural Communities & Family Farming Under Attack
Here is an example of how corporate interests and big ag are working against rural communities and family farmers at the legislature. On Feb. 26, the Senate Ag Policy and Finance Committees met for a special joint hearing to overview the state of agriculture in Minnesota.
Dr. Marin Bozic, a dairy economist at the University of Minnesota, testified “on behalf of Minnesota Milk, and as well as [his] employer,” the U of M. Incredibly, Dr. Bozic said, “I anticipate out of 3,000 dairy farms left in the state, probably over 80 percent are last generation dairies… We are going to see a number of dairy farmers that are no longer competitive… We would be doing them a disservice by offering some handouts that would prolong their hope but really there is nothing there to hope for.” He then lifted up Riverview Dairy, an 8,000-cow dairy in Morris, Minn., as the prime example of what type of operation our state resources should be focused on. (Watch or listen to his testimony, which starts at 1:06:15.)
Bluestem is able to embed Dr. Bozic's full testimony; click on the video below to hear the whole wonderful moment and more:
LSP's post continues:
Unbelievably, his assertions that more factory farms are inevitable for Minnesota’s future, that they should be supported by state resources, and that small- and mid-size family dairy farms are no longer viable, went unchallenged by Senators on the committees. That’s why we must speak up for strong rural communities and family farmers and demand that legislators put family farmers and rural communities before corporate interests.
Riverview heckova lot bigger than that
Land Stewardship Project actually low balls the size of the Riverview Dairy enterprise: that 8,000 cow unit is but one of the operation's units--and it's growing in Minnesota and Northeast South Dakota.
On Saturday, for example, the Aberdeen American News reported in Spink County feedlot looks to expand:
United Feeders is applying for a state permit that would allow an expansion of an existing concentrated feedlot operation in Spink County.
The permit would increase the operation's maximum number of beef cattle from 7,100 head to 10,000, according to a public notice on the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources website.
The feedlot is 4 miles east and 2 miles south of Frankfort.
Brad Fehr, chairman for Riverview, LLP, submitted the application.
Those would be dairy steers. And in the West Central Tribune, Tom Cherveny reported last week in Dairy's pipeline plan draws a crowd :
While new to Chippewa County, Yost said, Riverview Dairy has installed over 60 miles of underground pipelines in the past 10 years at its other dairy operations in Minnesota and South Dakota. Most recently, the Kandiyohi County Board of Commissioners approved a manure pipeline for the company's Riverview Dairy near Pennock.
The Louriston Dairy is located in Louriston Township of Chippewa County near Minnesota Highway 40, approximately 6.75 miles southwest of Kerkhoven and 15 miles west of Willmar.
The dairy needs a county permit for the pipeline because it will affect county tile lines and open ditch at 13 different crossings, according to Josh Macziewski, agriculture and drainage inspector for Chippewa County. The PVC pipeline will be 14-inch in diameter and 7.7 miles in length.
The dairy is permitted for 9,500 animal units, or 8,670 Jersey cows and 1,180 Jersey heifers. . . .
In November, the Tribune reported in Riverview plans fifth large dairy west of Willmar:
Riverview Dairy LLP of Morris is planning to develop a fifth large dairy farm in the state Highway 40 corridor west of Willmar. . . .
Swenoda Dairy is planned for a 130-acre site in Section 36 of Swenoda Township, Swift County. It will be located about three miles north of Highway 40, about 1½ miles west of state Highway 29, and approximately six miles southwest of Benson.
It will hold 9,500 animal units of Jersey cows in a free stall barn facility, according to the environmental assessment worksheet.
The company is currently completing construction on an identical-sized dairy in Louriston Township of Chippewa County along Highway 40. It also operates the East Dublin, West Dublin and Meadow Star dairies west of Willmar.
That's not counting Riverview's other dairies in Stevens (we counted three of them among the MPCA permits), Traverse and Wilkin Counties, as well as units in South Dakota like the Marshall East and West facilities (12,700 head), and other calf and feeder operations. We'll have to add up all those cows when we get the time, as well as look at the expansion of Western Minnesota/South Dakota I-29 corridor processing capacity in Lake Norden and Milbank, SD, and Litchfield, Minnesota (with a rumor of a new facility in Benson). At a time when there's a glut of milk, there's nothing the world needs more than commodity cheese.
Bozic to make a return appearance on April 18 Dairy Day at the Capital 2018
Readers may recall that the request by the Citizen's Board of the MPCA for a full-blown environmental impact statement for a yet another proposed mega-dairy operation in Stevens County led to the elimination of the board by the legislature. In 2016, the governor created another entity that's never been heard from since; we reported on that board in Guy who works for dairy at heart of elimination of MPCA Citizen Board appointed to new fake board.
That's some regulatory capture, by crackee! Bluestem can't help but wonder what the members of Minnesota Milk, on whose behalf Bozic testified, respond to the death knell he sounded for their "last generation" farms. Dairy Day at the Capitol 2018 is coming up on April 18, so perhaps farmers might ask him, along with their requests to secure Legacy funds. Bozic is on the schedule:
10:15 a.m. /3:00 p.m. House/Senate Ag Committees
Hear Minnesota Milk President Dave Buck, University of Minnesota economist Marin Bozic, and Dairy Producers of the Year Steve and Lisa Groetsch testify.
Photo: Dr. Bozic at the close of his senate testimony back in late February.
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