Liz Wilson, Emile Falc and Judy Shepard: Farm expansion isn’t worth the risk

February 20, 2019

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 Farm’s 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.

According to the Daley Farm Environmental Assessment Worksheet, manure will be spread on land where Karst features exist (sinkhole, cave, resurgent spring, disappearing spring, karst window, blind valley, or dry valley), 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 Farm. News reports have chronicled pump failures, leaks, overturned tankers and stormwater 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 criss-cross 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 Farm’s yearly water use alone is estimated to be 92 million gallons per year with the expansion.

After the MPCA’s denial of a 4,800 head swine facility in southeast Minnesota in December 2018, 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.”

We agree.

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 Farm expansion.

Liz Wilson, Emilie Falc and Judy Shepard, Winona Climate Action Netowrk