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Proposed dairy feedlot would be largest in Minnesota

Associated Press

WHEATON, Minn. -- Chadd Berger knows exactly how many neighbors he has in his tiny township -- 26 adults, 10 children.

He's not excited about a proposed addition to the neighborhood -- the largest feedlot of its kind in Minnesota, with 14,000 dairy heifers living in three barns covering an area larger than 12 football fields and producing as much waste as a small city.

Berger's not alone. Many of his neighbors in Redpath Township are concerned that dust and odors will cause health problems, and that millions of gallons of manure spread on surrounding farm fields could contaminate well water and nearby streams and rivers.

Officials in Traverse County, along the South Dakota border, welcomed the project and said they are convinced it will be managed carefully to avoid air and water pollution. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency is evaluating the project and will decide next month if it will proceed.

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Berger farms 800 acres with his father. He said few people live in the area, but it's still not the right place for a huge feedlot.

"It's just too flat out here," he told the Minneapolis Star Tribune. When floods occur, "the water runs everywhere."

The proposed feedlot, called Redpath Heifers, is being proposed by Gary Fehr, whose family owns several dairies around nearby Morris. The Redpath facility would take calves and raise them for two years, until they're ready to produce milk for family dairies.

Fehr declined to be interviewed about the project, saying he wanted to protect his family's privacy.

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