Year of the pig: Multiple livestock expansion projects planned in Nobles County
WORTHINGTON -- With nearly half a dozen livestock expansion projects already cleared for construction this year, 2013 is on pace to be nearly as active as 2012 for producers looking to add more barns and feed more animals.
It's a trend Nobles County Feedlot Officer Alan Langseth has watched in recent years, noting the number of young farmers finding their way into a future in agriculture at a time when land prices are too high and beyond their scope of affordability.
"(There are) at least 10 in the last two years that are young farmers that aren't in the position to buy land, but want to get into some aspect of farming," Langseth said Thursday, a day after the Nobles County Planning Commission approved several requests for livestock construction projects. "Some have been cattle (farms), some have been hogs -- it's usually whatever they grew up with."
These next-generation farmers are often getting help from fathers who are involved in farming. But, as was seen Wednesday night, sometimes it's the fathers who are leading the expansion projects.
"New buildings offer efficiencies," Langseth said, adding that some farmers are choosing to upgrade buildings that may have outlived their usefulness or are equipped with outdated technology.
"Some of it is environmental concerns," he said. "They're upgrading things to fit the environmental situation."
Those situations may include putting livestock under roof or improving manure storage facilities.
In 2012, Langseth said he had more than 20 construction sites to monitor as new barns were erected. He knows of at least half that many projects in the works already this year.
"I'm looking for a good construction year," he added.
Langseth said the farm economy, in general, has been pretty good the last few years, but with corn and soybean prices remaining at all-time highs, he wonders how some can afford livestock production.
"That would be scary to me if I had to buy all my feed," he said.
At its meeting Wednesday night, the Planning Commission approved the following conditional use permits, which will advance to the Nobles County Board of Commissioners for final approval on April 23:
l Rick Bullerman, Adrian, requested a permit to construct an 81- by 104-foot total confinement barn in the northeast quarter of the northwest quarter of Section 25, Lismore Township. Since the site already contains more than 1,000 animal units, Bullerman is required to get appropriate permits from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency prior to construction.
l Chris Wieneke, Adrian, requested a permit to construct a 102- by 192-foot total confinement barn with a concrete pit below in the southeast quarter of Section 22, Lismore Township. The barn will house approximately 2,400 head of swine in a wean-to-finish operation. This is a new livestock site in Nobles County.
Wieneke said he will hook into rural water and plans to drill a well on the site for a back-up water supply.
l Bullerman Farms LLC, Adrian, requested a permit to construct a 70- by 480-foot livestock barn to house 600 head of dairy heifers, and to convert an existing swine barn into a calf barn for 120 head on a site in the north half of the northeast quarter of Section 7, Little Rock Township.
Lane Bullerman said the larger barn is needed because the heifers raised at the site will now be kept to a weight of 600 to 700 pounds instead of 300 pounds.
Conditions on the site include that the good neighbor policy be adhered to, that any liquid manure be incorporated and that dead animal containment be provided.
l Donald DeKam, Chandler, requested an after-the-fact conditional use permit for constructing a 50- by 152-foot total confinement barn with a concrete pit below to house 2,000 head of swine in the southwest quarter of Section 2, Leota Township.
DeKam said remodeling of an existing building had begun after its roof collapsed, but a decision was later made to push it over and put footings in for a new building. The site was already permitted for 500 nursery pigs, but the new building houses 2,000 nursery pigs.
DeKam said he has been working with the MPCA to ensure the site meets specific requirements. Among the things he still needs to do is construct an enclosed containment structure for dead animals. He plans to bring that request before the county planning commission next month.
Conditions placed on the permit are the same as those previously set, including that manure be incorporated, dead animal containment be provided, MPCA certifications be met and the good neighbor policy be adhered to.
l Lincoln-Pipestone Rural Water, Lake Benton, sought a permit to construct an 8- by 16-foot water metering building in the west half of the southeast quarter of Section 16, Worthington Township. The structure will look similar to the metering building LPRW constructed on the east side of Worthington.
Daily Globe Reporter Julie Buntjer may be reached at 376-7330.