County reviews annual feedlot report

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 9, 2003

Lowell Franzen gave his annual feedlot report Tuesday at the Mower County Board meeting.

Franzen was joined by Jerry Hildebrand, compliance officer for the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.

Dan Vermilyea, a part-time feedlot officer in Mower County, was not present for the Tuesday discussion.

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Submitting a report and work plan to the MPCA is a requirement, according to Franzen. In return, Mower County will get grant money to sustain the program for another year.

The MPCA plans to ask the 2003 Minnesota Legislature for another appropriation for 2004-2005. Currently, it receives $2.341 million per year for the years 2002-03.

Mower County received $59,000 in grant money from the MPCA and the county matched the amount.

Franzen told the commissioners, the report tallied 738 feedlots on Jan. 1, 2002.

The number grew to 803 feedlots through Jan. 7, 2003.

The breakdown includes: 261, 10-49 animal units; 121, 50-99; 256, 100-299 animal units; 152, 300-999 animal units; and 13 with 1,000 or more animal units.

There were 51 feedlots with 0-9 animal units in Mower County.

The inspections made are not casual, Franzen said.

"We're not just driving by to see if there is a feedlot there or not," he said.

The inspections are thorough and done randomly although producers are frequently skeptical.

"Why did you pick me?" they ask him, Franzen said.

A total of 137 feedlot sites were randomly inspected, including 49 with up to 300 animal units; 75 with 300 to 999 animal units and 13 with more than 1,000 animal units.

In all, there were 288 total feedlot site inspections.

Last year, Mower County feedlot officials did not have to issue a single letter of warning and no notices of violations. There were no court or other enforcement actions, according to the report.

The feedlot work plan also required by the MPCA contained more information for the county commissioners to digest.

For instance, there are 13 feedlot sites in Mower County with 1,000 or more animal units.

This year, Franzen plans to conduct 92 feedlot inspections. The figure includes both the random inspections as well as the inspections conducted at regular intervals, according to the county's feedlot regulations.

Hildebrand told the county officials, the feedlot enforcement efforts will change this year with the advent of the open lot agreement provisions.

He said producers will be challenged to adhere to the new provisions by a disincentive for waiting too long.

Also the limitations on what producers must spend of their own monies on the measures to meet compliance rules could be impacted by the state budget shortfall.

Hildebrand and Franzen will share duties on the inspections of the county's largest feedlots this year.

Franzen took a swipe at the "false hopes" created by premature discussions of industrial sized feedlots.

He pointed to such a report in an area agricultural newspaper that predicted a 2,000 or more dairy cow milking operation, estimated at $6 million or more, was coming to the Dexter area.

"It was all false. There was nothing like that. They hadn't even begun work on it," he said.

Dick Lang, 4th District county commissioner, said the information Franzen and Hildebrand shared was "very educational for a city boy."

The other commissioners also praised Franzen's report.

Noxious report

Franzen also reported to the county commissioners on his duties as the county's agricultural inspector for noxious weeds.

One of the highlights of his report was the tabulation of the expenses for spraying and mowing by townships, cities, counties and the state. It is measured in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, Franzen said.

Also Tuesday, the county commissioners gave their unanimous approval to the appointment of John Kirtz, of Adams, to the noxious weed appeals committee. He will serve a three-year term.

Also on the committee are Pat Dillavou and Richard Moe.

Kirtz replaces Bryant Hokeness, who resigned when his term expired Dec. 31, 2002.

Lee Bonorden can be contacted at 434-2232 or by e-mail at