MN Milk Producers files last-minute case against MPCA decision

November 1, 2018 GMT

ST. PAUL — The Minnesota Milk Producers Association on Friday filed suit in Ramsey County District Court, asking the court to reverse the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s decision to extend the public comment period for an environmental assessment worksheet submitted by Daley Farms of Lewiston.

The public comment period for the EAW originally was to end today at 4:30 p.m., but was extended to Nov. 15 by the MPCA.

“Farmers need and were promised clarity in the permitting process, and this comment period extension was unexpected,” said Minnesota Milk President David Buck, a dairy farmer near Goodhue. “It is critically important that dairy farmers, like the Daley family, be afforded timely decisions from regulators when they seek to expand and modernize their operation.”

The court was scheduled to hear arguments in Ramsey County late this morning.

Joining the Minnesota Milk Producers Association as plaintiffs were the Chicken and Egg Association of Minnesota, Minnesota Pork Producers Association, Minnesota State Cattlemen’s Association, Minnesota Turkey Growers Association, Minnesota AgriGrowth Council and Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation.

Barbara Sogn-Frank, a policy organizer with the Land Stewardship Project in St. Paul, said the extension was granted because area farmers, including many LSP members, asked for more time to review the EAW. Because farmers who live in Winona County near the Lewiston dairy are busy with harvest, she said, they need more time to review the EAW so they can ask questions about the project.

Daley Farms’ expansion would increase the size of its dairy herd from 1,728 cows and calves to 4,628 total or from 2,275 animal units to 5,968 AU, the MPCA states.

Minnesota Milk Executive Director Lucas Sjostrom said it is unfair for Daley Farms, which has “meticulously followed” the MPCA’s process for submitting an EAW, including taking part in a public comment hearing on the planned expansion earlier this month.

“The unilateral decision by the MPCA to extend the public comment period past the 30-days outlined in statute is concerning,” Sjostrom said. “If this continues for future environmental assessment worksheets, it could cause significant harm to livestock producers throughout the state of Minnesota.”