Big dairy, big challenges
FARGO, N.D. -- Prairie Ridge Management, based in Veblen, S.D., is a big dairy complex for the region. It often makes the news, one way or another. In June 2008, the company held a grand opening for its Veblen East Dairy complex in Veblen, which ...
FARGO, N.D. -- Prairie Ridge Management, based in Veblen, S.D., is a big dairy complex for the region. It often makes the news, one way or another.
In June 2008, the company held a grand opening for its Veblen East Dairy complex in Veblen, which included two, 324,375-square-foot barns, including 23 acres under one roof, according to local news accounts.
That new dairy, with an announced $50 million cost, would milk 4,900 cows when in full operation in the fall, according to the Marshall County (S.D.) Journal. According to local news reports, Veblen facilities combined would hold 8,700 cows, accounting for 15 percent of the state's milk volume.
"The lesson that needs to be learned here is what animal operations can do for South Dakota," Millner said at the time. "It all boils down to economic development for rural communities in the Midwest."
Millner then said the region was poised for more dairy growth. With the price of corn and transportation, he said at the time, it doesn't make sense to "ship corn to the West and then ship cheese back to the East Coast."
One of Prairie Ridge's dairies has run up against neighbors and regulators for environmental issues.
Cows coming home
Recently, the company's Excel Dairy in Thief River Falls, Minn., has faced environmental challenges. The Excel dairy has been empty of its 1,500 cows since February, but the cows are scheduled to come back next spring.
The Excel site had continuous air monitoring from mid-May of 2008 and mid-November 2008. During that period, the site 400 times exceeded hydrogen sulfide limits. The issue ended up in Marshall County, Minn., court with a temporary injunction and attempted to negotiate a settlement agreement.
Failing that, on April 28, the MPCA citizen board revoked Excel's permit and issued a revised permit, based on various changes. Among other things, the MPCA commissioner in July ordered the company to pump down basins 2 and 3.
Then, on Oct. 1, the commissioner issued another order that basin 1 be pumped out. The order further said basins 2 and 3 must be cleaned to the clay liners and that permanent covers be installed over the two. The cleaning must be done by Oct. 31. Some pumping on basin 1 started Oct. 12, says Galen Reetz, MPCA regional division director in St. Paul.
The covers will have to be in place before the cows are allowed to return. Excel is operating on a one-year permit there that expires April 2010. To avoid a gap between permits, the application for a new permit would need to come 180 days before issuance, or about Nov. 1. No application had been initiated as of Oct. 15, Reetz says.