DNR Denies 3,600 Head Dairy Factory Proposal in Woodbury County
This week, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) preliminarily denied the construction permit for Jersey North LLP, a highly controversial dairy factory proposed in Woodbury County that riled hundreds of local residents to action. The underlying reason for denial, according to DNR Director Rich Leopold, was that: “these plans, as submitted, would pose a substantial risk to the environment if constructed.”
Based out of California, Jersey North LLP applied in January for a construction permit to build a 3,600 head dairy factory just outside the city of Lawton. A month later, as a result of overwhelming public opposition, the Woodbury County Supervisors sent their recommendation that DNR deny the application.
Members of Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (CCI) and other local residents led the fight and opposed the construction of this dairy factory for a number of reasons. Proposed to be built on highly-erodible fields with steep slopes – there was concern that this operation would result in erosion and manure spills that would contaminate two adjacent waterways. On top of that, the proposed earthen lagoons would hold 55.4 million gallons of manure and sit vulnerable to wind and rain at 50ft above ground at its highest point.
With 52 residences within a two mile radius of the proposed site, there was also fear that this site would inevitably have negative impacts on the health, the property values, the roads, and the general quality of life within the community.
Beyond just sending in their comments, representatives from the community brought their concerns directly to DNR state headquarters when CCI met with Environmental Services Division Administrator Wayne Gieselman at their Rally and Lobby Day on March 4th. In the end, their commitment paid off.
“Hopefully DNR’s recent denial of Jersey North’s permit to build a large dairy factory will set a precedent for opposition and protection of the environment within Iowa,” said Kevin Miller, a CCI member and Lawton resident who lives close to the proposed site. “I believe this is a strong message to Jersey North and other large factory farms that Woodbury County is not the place to look for future proposals – the growing communities and the vulnerable soils provide strong reasons for opposition.”