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We are dairy veterinarians in Plainview.

While Plainview is not in Winona County, many of our clients are Winona County dairy farmers. Our practice was founded 38 years ago, by Drs. Kevin Nigon and Jim Bennett.

They came to the area because of its beauty and because it had a very strong and progressive dairy industry. Indeed, our practice has grown and succeeded because of strength of the dairy industry here. However, we have concerns about our practice thriving in the future because of challenges the industry is facing.

Most of these challenges are not limited to our local area, such as low dairy prices, for example, but there are a few that are area-specific. The most significant local challenge is the animal unit cap in Winona County. It is a challenge to the entire region.

When a dairy farmer considering expansion in a neighboring county hears about farms being denied expansion permits in Winona County, he or she may reconsider expansion because they do not want to go through a similar, lengthy and contentious process and be turned down too. They may not want to cause a conflict in their neighborhood. They also may fear that the support structure of nutritionists, processing plants, dairy equipment dealers, veterinarians and so on will no longer be here.

The Winona County dairy industry affects more than Winona County.

The Winona County dairy industry is indeed in serious trouble. The most recent USDA Dairy Census shows an 18.2% drop in cow numbers in Winona County in the 10 years from 2007 to 2017. Minnesota lost only 0.4% of its cows in the same period. Winona County lost 5,337 cows while the entire state only lost 1,951 cows.

The most recent study we could find regarding the economic value of a dairy cow comes from Iowa State University in 2013. Key findings of this study were:

  • Each cow generates $23,445 of economic activity per year.
  • Ten cows generate one full time job. Dairy has a huge impact on Winona County, and a loss of 5,337 cows represents a loss of more than $125 million per year. Yes. per year.

Thirty eight years ago. Winona County had larger-sized dairy farms than most, if not all, other dairy counties in Minnesota. Dairy herd sizes are growing all across the United States and in Minnesota. The majority of milk is produced by herds sized in the thousands of cows.

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The average dairy size in Minnesota grew by 41% between 2007 and 2017, while the average farm size in Winona County grew by only 28%. This is most likely due to the animal unit cap here.

Winona County is now number six when the top 10 Minnesota dairy counties are ranked by herd size based on the 2017 data.

Few other dairy counties have animal unit caps in Minnesota. Herds are expanding to sizes currently not allowed in Winona County in those and other counties all across the United States.

Most of the growth in Minnesota counties has come from herds sized from 2,000 to 10,000 cows.

The bottom lint is that dairy farms need to be able to grow to compete with other dairy farms across the country and the world.

Nothing anyone does to regulate dairy farm size in Winona County will change that fact. We all may have opinions on what is the optimal size for a farm, but our opinions do not matter in determining whether a farm has a chance to be successful in a competitive landscape

Unless the animal unit cap in Winona County is removed soon, local dairy farmers will continue to be forced to exit the industry or to move to more dairy friendly counties elsewhere.

This is already happening. and all indications are that this trend will accelerate in the future. The negative impact on Winona County and to the entire region will be substantial.

We are encouraged that the Winona County Board of Commissioners has been discussing the existing animal cap recently, because dairy cows are good for Winona County and the cap needs to be removed to give local dairy farmers the opportunity to successfully compete.

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James Bennett, Kevin Nigon, Lindsey Borst and Megan Weisenbeck are doctors of veterinary medicine who operate Northern Valley Dairy Production Medicine Center, Plainview.

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(38) comments

Hive

Nota Bene: Hive is for "common sense." In time, who or what wins...non-zero sum...everytime, that being common sense for the common good. Nota Bene: Lemon Drop plays bullroar word games and will shun him or herself when "it" hits the fan here and elsewhere. Shame is the shroud thereon! I never saw a wild thing that pitied itself...except when human politics or selfish greed interdicted common sense!

lemon drop

As said through the haze of LSP colored glasses. We are right all the time and everyone else who argues against us is bad, greedy, soulless, bullroar. Common sense and common good are catch phrases in your arsenal, because you and you alone are the only gate keepers of this, no one else, well maybe the county board, but they have the same glasses on too, dont they.

lemon drop

Its well documented LSP'S disdain for large family farms. Its also widely known throughout MN that LSP hates MPCA because they don't stop family farms from getting larger, they provide the framework for these farms to expand in an environmentally sustainable sound way. Let me repeat, they dont want regulation, oversight, or solutions to anything related to farms they deem to big. Anything you say regarding MPCA, regulations, water quality, so on and so forth is a sham, because of your allegiance to LSP. Thats why you harp on the EIS so much cause that stops it all. If a farm actually went through with one, and turned out to be favorable towards the farm you would say it was done wrong too. Nothing will or ever satisfy your agenda period, LSP colored glasses and all

LetsBeSerious

Who are you talking to or about?

lemon drop

You, Hive, JD, whomever from LSP thats speaks to the regulations and water quality

LetsBeSerious

What makes you think I have anything to do with LSP and what have a said that is a sham?

LetsBeSerious

The lies and generalizations towards people stop right when it's time to substantiate them, then pick up somewhere else until they're questioned.

lemon drop

What did I lie about? LSP proves it every time and your making my point.

LetsBeSerious

What makes you think I have anything to do with LSP, and what have a said that is a sham? And, as your rhetoric continues, what point have I made for you?

Edward Teach

Mega [thumbup]

Comment deleted.
Edward Teach

Continue prattling on jrinfinity. Your inane gibberish continues to make the point that you and those who continue to promulgate class warfare can NEVER be reasoned with to address the issues in a substantive fashion.

Comment deleted.
LetsBeSerious

JD your perspective is important to the conversation but your best tools are well calm, well-reasoned points. I know some of these folks repeat the same soundbites to the point where a person wants to go nuts, but when you loose your cool it actually makes them look smarter.

Hive

There is little doubt the state regulates backwards...we regulate heads but to nothing about homeowners and agri industrial use of fertilizers and weed killers...major sources of pollution and killer of pollinators bees etc. We will pay the price either way and a terrible price it will be...so what do we do, burn down someone's house, etc...or do something now?

LetsBeSerious

Teach and JD and a few others have been throwing the same manure back-and-forth now for close to a year. "Twin Cities Overlord" this..."Greedy Corporate Polluters" that. The two of you clearly can't help each other. Maybe someone will emerge in Winona County with enough objectivity and mental capacity to consider two priorities at once (Farm industry health, protection of air and water). I'm honestly amazed that you folks have the stamina to bang foreheads that many times. You must be getting dizzy.

jdinfinity

Notice, not one word about what I said about the dairy market. Nothing. Crickets. I've said it before, I'll say it again. Deliberately, and intentionally trying to remove the cap, effectively bringing tens of thousands of more head to the area, will have dire consequences on the water table. Trying to make future generations drink poisoned water from wasteful, unsustainable agricultural practices in an already rock bottom low, flooded dairy market? To make a buck? That should be criminal. And LD, Teach and the others should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law for trying to make us and future generations drink poisoned water. All to make $ for themselves and their land o lakes corporate overlords. Because that's all they are. Sellouts to big money. Soulless cretinous shells of human beings. Unempathetic and unremorseful to the safety and well being of our community. Corporate criminals.

Edward Teach

[yawn]

lemon drop

Farms have been getting larger, and farms have been leaving for hundreds of years, you don't have a point to argue. Fewer grocery stores, hardware stores, box stores, car dealers, shoe stores, the lists go on and on. You belong to LSP, you hate larger family farms we get it, just try to prove your point better instead of making things up.

martin

jd and Hive +1

Hive

Where would human society be if it did not demand certain behaviors from its members?

lemon drop

Funny how you keep trying to say, one farm pollutes the ground water and the others do not simply on size, when one has to do go through the MPCA and enorormous amounts of regulations and others do not. Many farms keep their same size because if they change anything they have to redo some aspects of their farm for this very reason. Lies and misleading statements again JD, just plain soulless.

jdinfinity

That makes you and your farming corporate cronies despicable, worthless individuals. Thinking that by additionally over inflating the market, at the expense of our water table, you can make more money for yourselves, while putting smaller farmers already being crunched even more on the ropes. You Teach, especially you, LD, Daleys, and any other big corp farmers should be held accountable for exactly the people that you are. Criminals trying to rob small farmers of their futures in an already dismally low market, and pollute our water table at the same time. Criminals. No friggin' doubt.

Edward Teach

The only thing criminal here, jrinfinity, is your ignorance and amorality. You spout inane gibberish while claiming some moral imperative that does not exist. You prattle on about fairness but are delusional in thinking that it is your "right" to decide what is the best size and scope of a family farming operation that adhere to the legal and permitting requirements of state and federal units of government. You, and your LSP Overlords, are clowns and frauds. You bully family farms, local businesses and reporters because you are petulant children in a perpetual snit.

jdinfinity

I want to touch on one point here, a point you are sorely, sorely mistaken on and absolutely misinformed. "You and your self-anointed environmental elitists have no understanding as to what it takes to actually respond to the marketplace," - Teach | Ok. Do you know how flooded the market is with milk? Do you know how much milk, cheese and ice cream is being dumped into grocery stores, and how much is being thrown away? In addition to the millions of gallons farmers are dumping out, the grocery stores have more supplies of cheese than the american consumer can ever eat. More milk than they can drink. It goes right in the trash. And yet you, and your corporate minions, seek to increase the supply, of an already low in price market, by flooding it with yet more milk than the market needs. Thereby making the problem worse for small farmers. So you can make a few quick bucks. And all while putting more nitrates in the water supply that people will drink. Wow. Unreal.

jdinfinity

Alright. Lets get it started you little sellout corporate children crybabies. Hyperbole? Who are you to talk Teach. That is exactly what you are doing. You and LD, and the other corps are the lords of misinformation. Trying to dupe and trick the public into accepting a project that will destroy the water table with cow crapp. That is metaphorically what you and LD are shoveling in these forums as words, and literally trying to put into our water. And fortunately, people that seek the best interests of the community aren't buying it.

Edward Teach

You, jrinfinity, and your LSP Overlords who are beholden to corporate enviros, continue to live in a moronic, narcissistic, demagogic, half-witted world of radical leftwing utopianism without any possibility of enlightenment. As has been reported when the project was under review by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA), the Daley Family has nearly 1,000 pages of supporting evidence that their expansion and modernization project will not have the environmental impact you and your LSP drones continue to parrot. They have engineered the manure storage well beyond what is required by statute and have agreed to implement a of practices that would negate adverse impacts. And before you trot out some antiquated 2008 study regarding nutrient management practices cited by the Eco-Elitist LSP try, just for a second, to separate yourself from the divisive "Cult of Personality" to which you adhere and recognize that technologies and nutrient management practices continue to evolve for the better. That is all. You are dismissed.

LetsBeSerious

Noone is dismissed. You don't have that authority. If I've ever read parroting, it's under your name. What year, in your estimation, did nutrient management practices evolve to the point where the "moronic, narcissistic, demagogic, half-wits" should no longer be concerned about feedlots without limits in this water region?

lemon drop

JD brings up his best point yet! Let this be a lesson kids, stay off of drugs.

jdinfinity

Yeah, juz ones they sell out and later die in worthless causes for. Yeppers sir. Just like their fields, their herds, their nations, and them, and yourself... Word up. Or down. Whichever? U choose. U reap what you sow. For sale. Amurika. Cheap. Free.

Edward Teach

jr. jr. jr. You are such an angry elf. Not one word from you regarding "Corporate Enviro" and the dictates from your LSP Overlords that are anything BUT local. You and your self-anointed environmental elitists have no understanding as to what it takes to actually respond to the marketplace, implement and utilize up-to-date environmental practices and actually run a family farm. You would rather throw around misinformation and conjecture than actually try to engage in reasoned discourse. Hyperbole is your stock-in-trade.

LetsBeSerious

Teach did you start a new twitter handle?

lemon drop

Great piece about the truth, to bad nothing but LSP junk in the comments, these vets serve farms of all sizes.

Edward Teach

LD, all the nuts aren't in the bin. jrinfinity will always be pregnant with rage.

jdinfinity

Of course Hive. Another sales pitch. And why is this group coming out in support? More cows, more herd, more business for the veterinarians? No friggin' brainer. Not a single mention of environmental effects, water supply... Nada. Just the same soulless rhetoric from the same types of soulless people. People that are more focused on big business and making short term profits, than solving the larger unsustainable agricultural problems facing our area and our nation.

Greypanther2

These vets are concerned about their business not thriving in the future if herds don't expand. Sounds like a very self-serving letter to me.

Hive

Political bullroar, plain and simple!

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