By Matt Doll, Minnesota Environmental Partnership
On Thursday, August 23, the Newburg Township Board in Fillmore County voted in the presence of more than 200 community members to institute a one-year moratorium to block construction on new large livestock feedlots. The moratorium was considered – and vigorously championed by many in southeastern Minnesota – in response to a proposed feedlot that would house nearly 5,000 hogs and generate millions of gallons of manure each year.
Catalpa, LLC’s proposed feedlot would be situated east of the city of Harmony and above some of Minnesota’s most vulnerable karst areas, where groundwater is especially vulnerable to infiltration by pollutants. Because of the enormous anticipated impact of the feedlot, residents, local officials, and MEP partner organization Land Stewardship Project have called on the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency to order an in-depth Environmental Impact Statement to determine the dangers posed by this project.
Though the Catalpa feedlot debate is by no means finished, the vote by Newburg Township demonstrates that local government can still be an effective means of protecting residents and resources from long-term health hazards. And it has shone a spotlight on the powerful level of community commitment to a cleaner, safer, more equitable food system in southeast Minnesota.