Large dairy moratorium bill introduced in Minnesota Legislature

Bill puts Land Stewardship Project and Minnesota Milk Producers Association at odds with each other.

ST. PAUL — A bill that was introduced earlier this month in the Minnesota House of Representatives would put a moratorium on the construction or expansion of dairy operations with 1,000 animal units or more.

The bill, which has no comparison in the Minnesota Senate and has no Democratic signatures in the House, would prohibit the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency from issuing permits for such construction or expansion. The Minnesota Legislature announced it would adjourn until April 14.

The Land Stewardship Project, which is opposed to large-scale livestock operations, is the main promoter of the bill.

According to LSP organizer Paul Sobocinski, the large dairies the bill is opposed to "pose serious risks for our rural communities, our health and our environment".

"They push family farmers off the land," said Sobocinski. "The overproduction of these large dairies has had a depressing effect on prices and profitability, driving hundreds of farmers out of business year after year."


The Land Stewardship Project blames large dairies for low dairy prices for the past six years, and points to low hog prices in the late 1990s which resulted in larger hog operations pushing smaller ones out.

“Overproduction of milk by the large dairies has halted my son’s passion to be a dairy farmer," said Darell Mosel, former dairy farmer from Gaylord, Minn.

According to Sobocinski, LSP is not committed to the 1,000 animal unit number in the bill that was proposed.

"What we are wedded to is to having a pause in the permitting of these large operations." he said. "And ask the serious question of what does Minnesota really want in terms of our food security and in our rural communities."

Lucas Sjostrom, executive director of the Minnesota Milk Producers Association, said he hopes the bill doesn't get a hearing and he expects it not to.

"It's sad when one agriculture group is going to call another type of agriculture bad, and another type good," said Sjostrom. "We're just really worried when we get this inside fighting in agriculture, and about the long-term ramifications."

He said the bill sets a precedent for something he fears within the agriculture industry.

"We are so small as an industry," said Sjostrom of farms. "If we don't stand together, we're just going to become a place that's not favorable to farm in any way shape or form."


Sjostrom said there are a handful of dairies in the state with plans to expand operations in the near future.

"I know there's a number interested all the time, just trying to bring their next generation into their farm," said Sjostrom.

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