Dickinson County weighs in on NFP manure plan
By Seth Boyes, Northwest Iowa Publishing
via The Spencer Daily Reporter - July 14, 2017
SPIRIT LAKE ― Ample seating was available when the Dickinson County Board of Supervisors called the Tuesday meeting to order. Seats were a bit harder to find within an hour. That’s when discussion began regarding New Fashion Pork’s manure management plan for an existing facility located in Emmet County. The plan calls for the addition of 245 acres for manure management near Superior Township in Dickinson County.
Dickinson County Planning and Zoning Administrator David Kohlhaase said the addition of the 245 acres was the factor that triggered the public hearing. He reiterated the plan’s inclusion as an agenda item was only a courtesy to the public. He said Dickinson County is the only county in the state to hold such meetings. He said the the manure management plan was part of an annual update by NFP.
“The reason you’re having this meeting is to inform the public where manure’s going to be applied, but your hands are tied,” Kohlhaase told the board of supervisors.
He told the board they send a letter to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, but said it would have minimal influence as the law is currently written.
“You can do whatever you want to do, but in reality, you don’t have any authority,” Kohlhaase said.
Brad Freking, owner of NFP and BWT Holdings, said the manure is a valuable product to his company. He estimated its value to be $150 per acre and said 1,000 animals could generate about $12,000 annually.
Supervisor Mardi Allen took the opportunity to address Freking and NFP Director of Environmental Services Jay Moore, who were both present for the public hearing. She recalled a meeting in which she and Board Chairman Bill Leupold tried to convince NFP to move a confinement from section 14 of the Superior Township to a location alongside section 12. The additional acres in NFP’s application are in section 12.
“I’m very, very, very upset about this,” Allen said of the company’s new plan. “That is precisely where I almost begged you ― almost got on my hands and knees and begged you ― to move that other unit. It’s precisely there. And part of your reason was because it was so close to other houses. ... I’m just very upset about this. I think we, as a community, could have come to a compromise in that meeting.”
Moore described the company’s manure management plan as a living document.
“We have to submit an annual update each year,” Moore said. “Every four years you have to rework the entire plan.”
Moore explained the state’s master matrix is only used for siting purposes. He said the company continues to go above and beyond what is expected. He said NFP has been testing tile runoff water, though it is not required to do so. The company also takes annual soil samples to measure nitrogen and phosphorus levels, according to Moore. He said the state only requires samples not be more than four years old.
Some in attendance took issue with NFP’s plan application. Diane Benjamin, owner of Little Swan Lake Winery near Superior, said the manure management plan has been of great concern to her and her neighbors. Benjamin pointed out the company’s application classified the operation in Emmet County as a new operation, but said the facility was constructed in the summer and fall of 2015 and pigs were stocked in January 2016.
Benjamin listed a litany of what she claimed were inaccuracies in the application. In some cases, she said she mathematically adjusted estimates, based on what she said were more accurate numbers. In other cases, she pointed out claims that triggered some suspicion. For instance, while the application listed no subsurface drainage problems, Benjamin claimed subsurface tiling had been installed. The application stated the site was not on highly erodible land, or HEL, but Benjamin wanted to see more documentation from NFP.
“There is no proof provided by the (Natural Resources Conservation Service) or other relevant agencies to demonstrate this is the case,” she said. “There’s another HEL in the area. So it’s not out of the question that this may be HEL that would require a conservation plan. Documentation should be provided to demonstrate that this is indeed not highly erodible land.”