Livestock Investment Grants help farmers expand, improve
By Heather Thorstensen
GOODHUE, Minn. — Tim and Nancy Hinrichs of Goodhue converted a stanchion barn to a double-six herringbone milking parlor last year and found out recently that the state will help pay for it.
Gov. Tim Pawlenty announced in late October that 38 Minnesota livestock producers will receive a portion of $1 million in Livestock Investment Grants through the Minnesota Department of Agriculture. With their application in the day before the deadline, the Hinrichs made the recipient list.
The grants help producers pay for an investment to their livestock operation by covering 10 percent of the first $500,000. A minimum investment of $4,000 is required.
Pawlenty said the grants will help stimulate investment in Minnesota’s $5 billion livestock industry.
"We can’t have a healthy economy if we don’t have a healthy livestock sector," he said.
The MDA reviewed 576 grant applications and selected the recipients. The full value of approved projects is $12.9 million.
The Hinrichs wanted to convert their stanchion barn to a parlor because Tim’s knees were bothering him to the point that milking in the stanchion had become a challenge. He recently had knee surgery.
"It’s hard to describe how hard it is," he said. "When your knees ache, you still have to crawl under each cow."
They also switched to a parlor to remove limitations the number of stanchion stalls put on their herd size and to increase Tim’s milking efficiency so he could spend more time with his family. The couple have two children, a 15-year-old son, Justin, who helps with milking now, and an 11-year-old daughter, Haley.
Tim promised Nancy that if he converted the barn, they could finally go on vacation. They recently took a trip to see Mount Rushmore, the Badlands and the Black Hills.
"My husband kept his promise," said Nancy.
The only other Goodhue County grant recipient was Peter Burfeind, who dairy farms in rural Goodhue with his father, David. Burfeind didn’t know what to think when he learned he was selected.
"I was surprised we got it," he said. "There were so many applications."
Their grant will help cover their cost to install a second bulk tank in May that quadrupled their milk storage capacity to 4,000 gallons and allowed them to stop dumping milk, which they had to do last winter and spring.
"We knew we’d have to add storage or sell cows," Peter said. "We’d like to continue growing."
The grant will also help pay for a new plate cooler that will cool milk while saving energy costs, a palpation rail that increases breeding efficiency and a new feed bunk.
In southwest Minnesota, four producers from Rock and Nobles counties were selected for grants. Jeff Barber and Tim Meyer of rural Worthington will construct a new turkey barn, while Steven Dykstra of rural Bigelow will use his grant to upgrade milking facilities and barns on his farm. George Lass of Triple L Pork in rural Hardwick received a grant to relocate hog facilities to a more environmentally-suitable location while Aaron Lass received a grant to help fund the completion of a sheep farm expansion near Luverne.
Other recipients will use their grants to help support the next generation of livestock producers, implement environmental protection plans and improve manure management.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.