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Saturday, May 2, 2009

Minnesota Shuts Down Putrid SD-Owned Cattle Concentration Camp

Remember the Excel Dairy, the South-Dakota-owned CAFO that was stinking folks out their homes in Thief River Falls, Minnesota, last year? Well, Minnesota shut the dairy down in January. But even with the cattle gone, air monitors started at the beginning of April indicate the feedlot is still violating air quality standards.

Now the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has given Excel Dairy 30 days (after the roads firm up) to drain their manure lagoons. They've also levied a one-million-dollar fine on the stinkers. Once they clean up, Excel can resume cattle operations, but the new permit is a restricted one-year permit, not the usual five-year permit.

Of course, good corporate neighbor and Excel Dairy owner Rick Millner of Veblen is more interested in litigating ad infinitum than cleaning up his own mess. He told the MPCA "I do not think we can" comply with the new permit, and his lawyer Kevin Stroup says Excel will appeal, appeal, appeal. That fits with Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson's characterization of these corporate malefactors:

In a letter to the agency, Attorney General Lori Swanson said that Excel no longer deserves the privilege of operating a dairy because it has made false statements, ignored state orders, dismissed health concerns, and tried to litigate its way out of trouble by blaming others or claiming exemptions from rules. Swanson called the company's strategy "an affront to the MPCA regulatory authority and the right of the surrounding residents to breathe non-putrefied air" [Tom Meersman, "Ew, That Smell: Thief River Falls Dairy Upsets Neighbors," Minneapolis Star-Tribune, 2009.04.28].

Non-putrified air—is that really asking so much from a corporate farm?

Real neighbor Jeff Brouse, who has to live with the stink of Millner's corporate excrement, expresses the reasonable frustration of a man who just wants his kids to be able to step outside for a breath of fresh air:

“I do not get it. This is a health hazard but yet we do not have any remedies," he said. "The State and the judges keep giving Excel more time even when they blatantly say there will be no fixes, there is no money. No one understands we need to move out of our homes in the middle of the night to protect our children, there is no warning; the wind switches and, bam, we need to get out.

"We should not be forced to lose the right to live in our homes, or be forced to live in a health hazard," Brouse continued. "This decision will cost our neighborhood another year of living in hell for the benefit of a bad actor dairy operation, complete with out of state owners" [staff reports, "TRF's Excel Dairy Gets One-Year Permit," Crookston Daily Times, 2009.05.01].

Gee, we wouldn't have this problem if we just raised cattle (and sheep!) on the good earth and let them eat grass instead of turning farming into an extractive factory process with no respect for land or community.

Let's just hope Millner and his cronies don't bring all the extra cows and manure back to their Veblen cattle concentration camps.

Be a good neighbor—eat real meat, raised by real farmers and ranchers:

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