A light rain was falling, but dirt was still moving at the site of a long-delayed new dairy in rural Randolph County when Tom Bechman, editor of Indiana Prairie Farmer, visited the site last week. A gravel drive leads off of a rural road back to the site, where construction workers leveled up dirt for the future parlor, first priority in the project.
Since when is building a dairy barn news? After a year and a half debate and related turmoil held up permitting for the project. Although Randolph County zoning for the rural area where the dairy is being constructed is agricultural, allowing confinement livestock operations, some community leaders and even neighbors became so incensed over the proposed project that they conducted a petition drive, flooded meeting rooms, and constantly asked the county commissioners for relief.
Brian Daggy, an environmental consultant, Thorntown, Ind., has worked with the permitting process for the proposed dairy since the project began. He notes that while the county commissioners allowed debate for weeks and weeks, in the end, they took no action.
That left it up to the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) to issue a permit. Because of the size of the dairy, an estimated 1,650 cows, it falls under federal NPDES rules, carried out in Indiana by IDEM. After nearly 11 months and two public hearings, IDEM finally issued a permit to Tony Goldstein and family in late September.
The permit did carry a few restrictions, including one calling for both an earthen base and a liner for the lagoon that will serve the dairy. Usually, one of the two is sufficient. Goldstein was willing to comply, but the liner adds over $100,000 in cost to the project.
Goldstein purchased the land for the dairy from a neighbor, Al Groth. Supportive through the entire permitting ordeal, Groth will supply feed for the dairy. That includes chopping corn silage and raising and harvesting alfalfa, new enterprises for Groth and his partners.
He's pleased that the project is finally underway, he told Bechman. Groth's single purpose in working with the dairy project was to provide an opportunity to diversify his farming operation. He and his two partners wanted more to rely on than corn and soybeans.
Opponents of the project filed an appeal after IDEM issued the permit, Daggy notes. No date for when the appeal would be heard is known. In the meantime, Goldstein hopes to milk cows in his new facility sometime in mid to late 2005.