From: Liz Wilson, Emilie Falc and Judy Shepard
Winona Climate Action Network
Winona Climate Action Network supports sustainable farming practices that protect air, soil, water, wildlife and people. Profit, not sustainability, seems to be the motivating factor of the Daley Farms’ desired expansion. Increasing the number of animal units to more than three times the 1,500 cap set by Winona County is irresponsible and not sustainable agricultural practice. That many animals would create a multitude of issues.
Data collected worldwide on greenhouse gas emissions shows that 24 percent of greenhouse gas emissions are created by agriculture from the release of methane gas, affecting air quality and climate change. Research at the U.S. Department of Agriculture attributes the increase in agricultural methane to increased livestock numbers and the breeding of larger animals with higher food intake.
According to the Daley Farm environmental assessment worksheet, manure will be spread on land where karst features exist (sinkholes, caves, resurgent springs, disappearing springs, karst windows, blind valleys, or dry valleys), risking contamination of groundwater, which can affect public drinking water. Forty-six million gallons of manure a year are expected to be produced at the expanded Daley Farms. News reports have chronicled pump failures, leaks, overturned tankers and storm water overflows that have dumped hundreds if not thousands of gallons of manure into our waterways. This is an exponential risk considering Southeast Minnesota’s porous landscape and the trout streams that crisscross this area. With wells in the area already testing high for nitrates, that risk is too high. The demand on resources will be great as the Daley Farms’ yearly water use alone is estimated to be 92 million gallons per year with the expansion.
The failure of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) to require an environmental impact statement seems to go against common sense and state data.
Minnesota Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcom recently said in a statement, “Protecting drinking water is a top priority for public health, and preventing problems is much less expensive than addressing them after the fact.”
After the MPCA’s denial of a 4,800 head swine facility in Southeast Minnesota in December, Commissioner John Stine of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency said, “It’s time to take a more comprehensive look at groundwater contamination in Southeastern Minnesota.”
The mission of the MPCA is to protect and improve human health and the environment. Its vision is clean water, air and land; healthy communities and ecosystems; and a strong Minnesota economy.
Yet, the MPCA didn’t feel there was sufficient risk to that health to warrant an environmental impact statement?
We don’t believe the benefit of the few is worth the risk of the many. We believe that an environmental impact statement should have been required for this project. It is now up to the Winona County Board of Adjustment to stick to the cap that the county set. We urge the board to deny the variance for the Daley Farms’ expansion.