Renville County commissioners give their backing to Revier feedlot

OLIVIA -- Renville County's board of commissioners gave the go-ahead to the Revier Cattle Company to expand its feedlot in Norfolk Township south of Olivia by 6,000 head of cattle.

OLIVIA -- Renville County's board of commissioners gave the go-ahead to the Revier Cattle Company to expand its feedlot in Norfolk Township south of Olivia by 6,000 head of cattle.

On a four-to-one vote, the commissioners approved a conditional use permit on Tuesday that allows the operation to expand operations from 4,500 to 10,500 head of cattle. It will make the feedlot one of the largest in Minnesota.

Commissioners Paul Setzepfandt, Bird Island, and Bob Fox, Franklin authored the motion for the permit. They were joined by commissioners Gale Dahlager, Sacred Heart, and John Stahl, Olivia, in supporting it. Ralph Novotny of Hector cast the 'no' vote. He had previously criticized the willingness to allow an expansion of this size to occur when the county otherwise has a 2,000 animal unit limit in place.

The county board of adjustment earlier granted Revier's a variance to the county's animal unit cap.

The Revier family will invest $4 million to build two, total confinement buildings to house the additional animals. It is believed to be one of the first, large-scale total confinement operations for beef cattle in Minnesota.


The Norfolk Township board and residents near the feedlot have opposed its expansion. Some of the residents repeated their concerns to the commissioners on Tuesday. They voiced concerns about odors and emissions that could result from the large volume of manure the feedlot will handle, and the possible impact on water resources in the area.

The commissioners added a condition to the Revier permit in response to the concerns about odors and emissions of gasses associated with the manure. It requires the company to notify all of those living within two miles of the feedlot when there are plans to agitate, pump, and handle the manure.

The feedlot will be producing 11 million gallons of manure annually, or 18,000 tons, according to information filed with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.

Tom Revier and company Attorney Gary Koch told the commissioners that there is strong demand for the manure to fertilize croplands. There are nearly 3,000 acres identified on which to distribute the manure.

Revier emphasized that it will be distributed on widely dispersed fields, and not concentrated on the family's farm lands around the feedlot. "It's a better use of the resource (to disperse it) on other fields than our own,'' he said.

Koch said the manure would all be incorporated or injected in the fields. Both processes are "proven methods of odor control,'' he said.

The commissioners said they believe the main odor concerns will occur when underground, manure storage pits on the two confinement buildings are agitated or pumped. That is why they wanted a condition requiring notification of residents within two miles of the feedlot.

Mary Ebnet, of Norfolk Township, said residents remain concerned despite the assurances. There is already a concentration of large, hog feedlots in the township, she said.


"How much do you expect the people to absorb,'' she said.

Township resident Darlene Konz said many are also concerned about the feedlot operations might impact groundwater resources in the area. The feedlot will require an estimated 22 million gallons of ground water each year.

Koch said that a DNR hydrologist report showed there would be no adverse impact. The company also cited an engineer's report stating that Renville County taps only one percent of its available groundwater resources.

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