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Cattle producers seek permits to expand

WORTHINGTON -- Three young livestock producers went before the Nobles County Planning Commission Wednesday night seeking conditional use permits to establish new or expand existing cattle operations in the county. All three requests were approved, and will now go before Nobles County Commissioners at their Sept. 7 board meeting.

There were no objections from neighbors regarding the three requests and, in fact, one neighbor provided comment prior to the meeting stating young farmers need to be supported as they enter into production agriculture.

Jesse Feeken of Rushmore requested a conditional use permit to establish a new cattle feedlot in the southwest quarter of Section 18, Ransom Township. Feeken raises young calves and has a cattle finishing operation.

Nobles County Feedlot Officer Al Langseth said the site already contains a feedlot and fencing, but has not been used as a feedlot for many years.

"We have to consider that a new feedlot," he said, adding that because there is a neighbor within a quarter-mile of the site, a conditional use permit is required.

"There is no new construction with this site. It's just that in order to meet the rules of our ordinance, they had to go through the qualifications for this feedlot," Langseth said.

Feeken requested a permit to have up to 100 animal units on the farm. That equates to approximately 500 calves, 143 yearlings or 100 finishing steers.

Feeken's closest neighbor submitted comment prior to the meeting stating he had no objection to the request.

The second request of the evening came from Mark Van Essen of Leota, seeking a permit to construct an 86- by 360-foot total confinement building to house up to 240 head of dairy cattle. In addition, Van Essen will construct a 180-foot diameter, 12-foot deep concrete manure storage pit. The construction will be in the east half of the southeast quarter of Section 8, Leota Township.

Wayne Smith, Nobles County Environmental Services director, told planning commission members that Van Essen had appeared before the board a couple of years ago to request a barn that was a little bigger than the one now proposed. Van Essen never built that barn, and has since made some modifications to the plan.

Van Essen said the water table is too high at the site to allow for a manure storage basin under the barn, therefore he will have a concrete storage facility built to the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) design standards.

Bedding materials used in the barn will reduce odor issues from the pit, as the material will produce a crust on the top. Van Essen said the pit will need to be emptied just once per year.

Van Essen's request was approved with one condition -- that he obtain the proper permits from the Department of Natural Resources.

Jeff Bullerman of 3B Farms LLC of Adrian sought a permit Wednesday night to construct a 70- by 202-foot confinement barn with a pit below in the southwest quarter of the southeast quarter, and the southeast quarter of the southwest quarter, of Section 25, Lismore Township.

This is the fifth barn to be constructed on the site, and will expand the farm to more than 1,000 animal units.

"It's just the last barn in the plan there," said Bullerman.

Planning commissioners approved the expansion before addressing three requests from Mathiowetz Construction, the contractor on the Minnesota 60 expansion project, to establish barrow pits along the six-mile stretch of the highway that will be under construction up to November 2011.

Dale Schweiss, of Mathiowetz Construction, said the pits will be dug on farm land, preserving the topsoil and collecting the clay underneath for construction of the new highway. Removal of the clay will begin in early September and continue through next year's construction season.

Sites approved by the Planning Commission include the Frank Riley parcel in the southeast quarter of the southeast quarter of Section 33, Worthington Township; a Dean Selberg parcel in the southeast quarter of the northeast quarter of Section 17, Bigelow Township; and a Doug Buntjer parcel in the northwest quarter of the southwest quarter of Section 9, Bigelow Township.

A condition was placed on all three of the permit requests, requiring Mathiowetz Construction to have the stored topsoil seeded and mulched.

The barrow pit permits will also go before Nobles County Commissioners at their Sept. 7 board meeting.

Julie Buntjer

Julie Buntjer joined the Globe newsroom in December 2003, after working more than nine years for weekly newspapers. A native of Worthington, she has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism. Find more of her stories of farm life, family and various other tidbits at

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