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Sunday, February 7, 2010

Excel Dairy Victims Take Protest to Minnesota Legislature

MN Pollution Agency Documents Violations at Six Millner Feedlots

More for the Rick Millner-rotten neighbor file: Thief River Falls residents testified before their State Senate Health Committee in St. Paul last week about Excel Dairy, the feedlot whose disregard for neighbors, environment, and legal authority has stunk innocent folks out of their homes.

[Jeff] Brouse and his neighbors described an odor so pungent it goes beyond a normal manure smell. Health Department officials told of hydrogen sulfide levels so high they not only go beyond their meters’ capacities, they are so high that doctors do not know how they might affect people.

Health officials have advised residents near the dairy along U.S. 59 in northwest Minnesota’s Marshall County to evacuate their homes several times.

Six-year-old Brooke Fredrickson told senators that it is not fair that on nice, sunny days she often is forced to play inside her home because of the smell and accompanying health danger. She needs to go inside “when my eyes get crusty.”

Looking at her little brother, Jake, she added: “I am his big sister, and I need to protect him” [Don Davis, "Cleanup delay at Thief River Falls dairy site draws protest," AgWeek, 2010.02.04]

Just as Excel Dairy has flaunted EPA regulations, it has flagrantly defied the orders of the state of Minnesota:

Cows were removed from the dairy after an agency order a year ago. Excel has not fulfilled another part of the order to clean up three manure lagoons that still emit gases, Assistant Attorney General Jeff Grell said.

The dairy also left a pile of feed on the property, in defiance of the state, he said, and rats and other animals have moved in [Davis, 2010].

Read more about Excel Dairy's "history of failing to comply with the requirements of its permits," as well as delay, deception, and what sounds perilously close to outright lying, in this report from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. This MPCA report also documents violations of permits and environmental rules at five other dairies Millner has been involved with, including his big operations near Veblen, South Dakota.

The record is clear: Rick Millner's feedlots are trouble. He has operated at least six feedlots with apparent disregard for the law, the environment, and his neighbors. We can only hope MPCA will follow through with its intention to deny Millner another permit for his Thief River Falls feedlot.


  1. This is exhibit A for why people object to having such a place close to them.. They seem impossible to get rid of once they are established. Here is a fellow w/places in three states and all of them are problems and all the states seem powerless to shut him down.
    SD does not even have criteria for hydrogen sulfide.
    A few years ago Veblen was the showplace used to get the Excel dairy going.
    Even if a cafo is a showplace, it is no guarantee it will stay that way.
    Finally, do you really want your milk, beef or pigs to come from such places? I talked to a few people who lived near Excel and one who did some monitoring. The most haunting question was this. The hydrogen sulfide levels were often so bad, the neighbors were advised to leave. Guess who didn't (couldn't) leave? The Hispanic workers and their families living on the place. When they moved on if there were any problems with the workers or their kids, what recourse do they have? None. They are considered expendable, I guess.
    This is the real cost of cheap food. Buy fresh, buy local. Check and see if the cows are really happy.

  2. Cory:

    If this polluter moved his operation to South Dakota, Todd Epp's law would compel blog owners to bar disparaging or defamatory anonymous remarks that reveal environmental offenses.


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