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Large cattle operation near Pillager seeks expansion

PILLAGER - The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency is seeking public comment on its intent to allow the expansion of a feedlot operation near Pillager.

PILLAGER - The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency is seeking public comment on its intent to allow the expansion of a feedlot operation near Pillager.

The public comment period on the agency's intended action to allow Crow Wing Feeders LLC, a beef cattle operation on the 4500 block of 132nd Street Southwest in Pillager, will remain open through 4:30 p.m., Sept. 18.

The modified permit would allow the concentrated animal feeding operation to add 14 open lots with runoff controls and partial confinement barns for 4,000 additional head of background feeder cattle, a liquid manure storage area and two feed storage areas with runoff controls. The operation currently houses 1,839 head of slaughter cattle, a liquid manure storage area and two feed storage areas.

Those wishing to make comment on the MPCA's decision can submit written comments to Rhonda Adkins, Watershed Division, 7876 College Road, Suite 105, Baxter, 56425. Comments may also be submitted by email at rhonda.adkins@state.mn.us . The public may also petition the MPCA to host a public informational meeting or to host a contested case hearing.

Crow Wing Feeders in June was fined $30,000 by the MPCA for feedlot violations. According to MPCA staff inspection reports, Crow Wing Feeders allowed cattle access to Seven Mile Creek, failed to operate and maintain a manure-storage basin according to MPCA-approved plans and housed cattle on unpermitted areas of land, which caused manure discharges to a nearby stream resulting in excess E. coli bacteria levels.

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Other violations included stockpiling manure within the 50-foot setback from a road ditch and improper land application of manure, which resulted in over applying nitrogen and phosphorous.

In 2010, the same cattle operation paid $15,000 in penalties relating to unauthorized construction and expansion. According to inspection reports, the feedlot was housing nearly 2,700 head of cattle while its permit allowed just 840 head.

The company agreed to pay the civil penalties and completed a series of corrective actions.

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