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Published February 27, 2008, 12:00 AM

Hutterites request more space for hogs

The Spring Prairie Hutterite Colony needs more space to raise larger hogs that will sell for more money, a spokesman told the Clay County Planning Commission on Tuesday.

By: Dr. Susan Mathison, The Forum

The Spring Prairie Hutterite Colony needs more space to raise larger hogs that will sell for more money, a spokesman told the Clay County Planning Commission on Tuesday.

Joseph Wipf, a representative of the colony north of Hawley, requested a conditional-use permit for a 16,700-square-foot building expansion to the colony’s hog feedlot operation.

The goal is to provide more room for existing animals and to manage them more efficiently, Wipf said. There would be no additional hogs.

The colony’s facility allows space for hogs to reach about 230 pounds, he said. With more space, the colony could keep hogs three weeks longer and earn better market prices with 270-pound hogs, he said.

“That’s what the packers want,” Wipf said.

The new building would include six underground concrete waste-management tanks, which would be connected to the existing manure transfer system.

The colony has about 5,500 hogs at any given time and is inspected annually by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, Wipf said. Waste is drained into a lagoon area every five weeks.

Because the hog numbers wouldn’t increase, the site wouldn’t see much of an increase in manure, said Clay County Planning Director Tim Magnusson.

No one opposed the project during the public hearing. But Planning Commissioner Carol Schoff expressed concern about possible water pollution.

The colony site is in a sensitivity area rated “very high,” where water-borne surface contaminants could reach upper levels of groundwater quickly, according to a Minnesota Department of Natural Resources study.

Commissioner Roland Holm said he would vote against the site if it was a new operation.

However, the feedlot is already there and will continue whether a new building is allowed, he said.

Commissioner Jon Evert said the project is different from other requests because the number of animals will remain the same. There will also be 4 feet between the water table and the floor of the manure pit, he said.

The Planning Commission voted 6-1 to approve the conditional use permit, with Schoff voting against.

It will now go before the Clay County Commission.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Teri Finneman at (701) 241-5560

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