Chippewa County approves permit for large dairy, Riverview Dairy's sixth in area west of Willmar
Grace Dairy, in the township of the same town, is permitted for 10,500 animal units. It will be the sixth large dairy to be constructed in the area west of Willmar in Chippewa and Swift counties.
MONTEVIDEO — Riverview Dairy LLP will be constructing its sixth large dairy west of Willmar in the area where Chippewa, Swift and Kandiyohi counties meet.
The Chippewa County Board of Commissioners approved a conditional use permit Tuesday for a 10,500-animal unit dairy to be developed in Grace Township along Minnesota Highway 40, about 23 miles west of Willmar.
Riverview LLP currently operates the similar-sized East and West Dublin, Louriston, Swenoda and Meadow Star dairies in the open expanse between Willmar and Milan and south of Benson.
Grace Dairy represents an estimated $60 million investment. It’s expected to generate an estimated $3 million a year in wages and $90,000 in property taxes, according to information presented Tuesday.
No timeline has been set for its construction. While its development could get underway in 2022, that is not yet decided, Riverview representatives Tom Walsh and David Yost told the West Central Tribune.
The Chippewa County planning and zoning commission recommended approval of the permit for the dairy after holding a public hearing Nov. 10.
County Board chair David Nordaune said several neighboring landowners had expressed concerns about potential impacts on their domestic water supplies, as well as traffic. About an equal number of people attended the hearing to voice support for the project, according to Nordaune.
He said the company had met the requirements of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and Department of Natural Resources , and also the county’s land use ordinance. A turn lane on Highway 40 will be constructed to address traffic concerns. The dairy will handle an expected 250 trucks weekly.
The dairy is projected to use 120 million gallons of water a year. It will produce an estimated 85 million gallons of manure, which will be applied on 7,300 acres of farmland each year. The company has lined up 12,113 acres for applying the manure, according to its permit.
Walsh told the commissioners that the dairy’s water appropriations permit requires that the operations do not impact the water supplies of neighboring farms. He said the company is committed to working with any landowner with concerns.
“There is what the law requires and then there is what’s called doing the right thing,” he told the commissioners.
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Commissioner Candice Jaenisch said there had also been some concerns raised about the density of livestock in the area with the addition of this dairy. She noted that there are also hog operations in the area. The county has no ordinance regulating livestock density. Walsh and Yost said the area where the dairies are located has ample acreage to both provide feed for the dairies as well as use the manure.
The No. 1 cost of production for the dairy is feed, said Walsh. The dairy expects to purchase 75% to 85% of its feedstock from farms near the dairy, along with soybeans processed in Dawson.
Two landowners near the dairy urged the commissioners to approve the permit.
Kyle Petersen, who has invested in Riverview dairies, pointed to its dairies already operating in the area.
“They are good players. They run a good operation,” Petersen said.
Floyd Hettver cited the economic benefits for neighboring farms producing feed for the dairies.
“It’s been good for us,” he said, “to keep the family out there farming in our community.” He called the dairy “a positive for us out there in the middle of nowhere.”
The dairy will ship approximately nine semitrailer loads of milk for processing each day when in full operation. Yost and Walsh said no decisions have been made on where the milk will be shipped at this point.
Along with offering the land and water resources the dairies need, the area west of Willmar is also located within reasonable distances of dairy processing facilities. They include First District in Litchfield; Associated Milk Producers in Paynesville; Lakes Area Cooperative in Perham; Valley Queen in Milbank, South Dakota; and Agropur in Lake Norden, South Dakota.
The commissioners unanimously approved the conditional use permit with Bill Pauling, Jaenisch and Nordaune voting. Members David Lieser and Matt Gilbertson were not present.