Tougher feedlot rules proposed
(New terms and NEW RESTRICTIONS that can and likely will impact many who are
beyond the boundaries of the feedlot industry)

By Jane Otto
Staff Writer, Hutchison Leader

Thursday, August 01, 2002

Hutchison, Minnesota - New housing construction is far more common throughout McLeod County than new feedlots. The restrictive regulations for feedlots spelled out in the county's ordinance make planning anything new an arduous task.

"It's a long and difficult process," Mark Hiles of the McLeod County Environmental Services said.

The last permitted new feedlot Hiles can recall was in early 2001. It was a relatively small facility. The farm had existing buildings, but no livestock had grazed there during the past five years. To meet the required setbacks, the farmer had to move a barn 600 feet, Hiles said.

If the farm had livestock within the last five years, it would have been classified as an "existing" feedlot. Regulations for new feedlots are more stringent than for existing feedlots, but that may change.

Environmental Services is proposing several amendments to the county's feedlot ordinance, one of which will affect existing feedlots not yet permitted. If the amendment is approved, any request for feedlot permits after Jan. 1, 2003, will be required to meet the regulations for new feedlots. This won't affect any feedlot that is currently permitted, Hiles said.

State and county laws require any feedlot with 50 or more "animal units" in a non-shoreland area and 10 animal units in a shoreland area to be permitted. An animal unit is the average weight of an animal divided by 1,000 pounds.

Feedlots with fewer than 50 animal units can register with the county and Hiles encourages those feedlots to do so. If any facility is considering expansion and applies after Jan. 1, 2003, it's possible the feedlot may not meet the required setbacks and be ineligible for a permit, he said.

"When you start drawing a quarter-mile circle around the area, there's not much left where you can have a decent facility," he added.

Last May, the county approved several revisions to the feedlot ordinance, some of which affected new feedlots. Those changes were:

1,320 feet or 3 feet per animal unit from any existing commercial development, school, park, an existing active church or from any city limits.

  • 2,640 feet from any new or existing development of four or more residences or a plat with four or more lots.


  • No new permitted or registered feedlots will be allowed within 300 feet of a river or stream; 1,000 feet of a lake, municipal well, school or licensed child care facility; 100 feet of a private well and is prohibited in a flood plain.

    A public hearing will be conducted for feedlot operators and residents to discuss the proposed changes, but no date is set yet. For more information, call the McLeod County Environmental Services Office at (320) 864-1259 or visit the office at the McLeod County Court-house, 803 11th St. E., Glencoe.

    "As McLeod County continues to grow and change, feedlot controversy is going to be difficult to avoid," Hiles said in a recent news release. "Feedlot operators and residents should be aware of state and local regulations and how they affect your plans not only today, but in the future."

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