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An udder rumor: Facts are in short supply in dairy operation talk

A rumored dairy operation is said to be coming to Wadena County. File photo

Rumors have been popping up all over the region about a suspected dairy cattle/feedlot operation of over 10,000 head, possibly 13,000, to be built in Wadena County.

Some locals have heard the cow operation is planned for north of Verndale and the milk would be sold to Walmart. Others believe it's a branching out of Riverview Dairy LLP or R.D. Offutt. Farms.

The topic came up at a past Wadena County Commission meeting when hearing a report from county feedlot supervisor Liz Wiese. County commissioners noted they've been hearing the rumors for at least six months but have no facts to go by at this time.

Wiese shared that no application for a large cattle operation had come to the county. Wadena County handles permitting of any such operation under 499 head and any over that amount requires a conditional use permit from the county as it is considered a commercial operation, according to the Planning and Zoning administrator Deana Malone. Such an operation would also have to go through the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. MPCA rules govern the collection, transportation, storage, processing, and land application of animal manure and other livestock operation wastes. The rules apply to most aspects of livestock management including the location, design, construction, operation, and management of feedlots and manure handling facilities.

According to Molly Costin with the MPCA office in Detroit Lakes, which handles permitting for the Wadena County region, no such applications of that size or type have been submitted. She added that while she's also heard the rumors, she's not sure where the rumors are coming from.

Malone said if Costin heard of such an application she would immediately inform her.

To try to slip in an operation of the size that's being rumored "would be pretty tough," Malone said.

And as far as the two farming operations mentioned, Riverside Dairy and R.D. Offutt staff both confirm that there are no such plans.

"Riverview is not currently involved in any proposed dairy projects in the Wadena area," according to Brady Janzen with Riverside Dairy.

Anne Struthers, communication director for R.D. Offutt Farms insisted R.D.Offutt Farms had no such plans for a dairy operation in Wadena County or the state of Minnesota.

Offutt is currently a part owner in one dairy operation, Threemile Canyon Farm, a 50,000-cow dairy near Boardman, Ore.

A member of the Minnesota Dairy Association said, while they had heard numerous rumors and a general rumbling in the farm industry, no actual facts were supporting those rumors.

So if there is some truth to the rumors, at this point, it appears unfounded.

If there is such an operation coming, it appears the communities are very interested in finding out the facts.

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