Daley Farms

Dairy cows at Daley Farms near Lewiston on Wednesday, July 24, 2019. (Andrew Link / alink@postbulletin.com)

Oh Great Answer Man: So, I read a story about the court of appeals decision in the case where the environmental groups were suing the MPCA (Answer Man Note: actually, appealed the decision of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency) over its decision to grant a permit for Daley Farms to expand. 

One of the claims being made by the Minnesota Center of Environmental Advocacy is that the dairy, if allowed to expand, would become a bigger producer of waste than the city of Rochester. Is that true, or is it a bunch of bull pucky? — A Different Dairy Farmer 

Milk Man ... or Woman (Answer Man is equal opportunity): Well, that seems like an question as simple as knowing which end of the cow is which. 

For starters, let's see how much manure would be produced by the expanded version of Daley Farms. According to an organization called the Alice Ferguson Foundation, an organization devoted to sustainable agriculture, the average cow poops 65 pounds of manure each day. 

Honestly, with that much supply, I'm surprised cow chip flipping isn't a bigger sport. 

Anyway, if the Daley Farms expansion was approved, that'd mean (round up to 6,000 cows, carry the three, divide by the number of pounds in a ton) in total, the cows, including the ones already there, would produce 71,175 tons of manure in a year. 

OK, that's a lot of manure. I don't think anyone would disagree with that. But stacking that up against what is produced by the city of Rochester is like comparing a quarter-pounder to a porterhouse steak. 

Anthony Wittmer, a communications specialist with Olmsted County Environmental Resources, said in 2018 Olmsted County produced 165,248 tons of trash (garbage and recycling). Just reducing that to the amount by the percentage of county residents in Rochester, we'd get 124,000 tons of trash. 

That, Wittmer noted, doesn't even take into account the amount of waste processed by the city's water treatment facility, which can process 19.1 million gallons a day. How much of that is water, and how much is waste? Now that's a question even the Answer Man is glad to leave unanswered.

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