Residents criticize dairy proposal
Several neighbors and others spoke in opposition of a request by farmer Troy Randall for permission for a 6,500-head dairy in southern Moody County.
Randall who lives at 24250 479th Ave., southeast of Trent, is seeking a conditional use permit for a Class A Concentrate Animal Feeding Operation that eventually will be owned by John Bidart. Bidart, who is from California, owns Wildwood Dairy south of Egan, the most recent dairy to open in the county.
Construction of the new project is projected at $30-$35 million, said Paul Kostboth, owner of A1 Development Solutions in Sioux Falls, the company putting the plan together.
Randall, who has farmed for 25 years and has Randall Enterprises, spoke at a county commission hearing that drew about 90 people to the Trent Gym. He said he has been looking for a change, and even if he isn’t given a permit, he will make changes.
“In March of 2019, we started looking for other opportunities for our farm,” he said. When he toured Wildwood Dairy, seven miles north of him, he was impressed by the cleanliness and lack of odor.
His wife, Robin Randall, echoed that impression. “It is a beautiful facility with minimal, minimal smell,” she said. “If you’re concerned about smell, this is a better plan.”
She said the dairy is the best option for both her family and the community.
“I want there to be opportunities for agriculture in the future for our state,” she said.
But most of the neighbors and residents of the county who attended the meeting spoke against allowing the dairy to be built, expressing concerns about the environment, flies and dust, roads, health and way of life. The dairy on Randall’s land would be permitted for more cows than those at Wildwood.
“I’m concerned about the odor, very concerned. The other things I’m concerned about is the roads,” said Charles Scherff of Trent.
Dan Janssen, who farms across the road from the proposed dairy, is worried about what will happen with water runoff, what the dairy will do to his property taxes and how bright the lights will be from the dairy.
“I’m not really looking forward to having that,” he said. “I don’t appreciate somebody who does not live in our neighborhood.”
Blinsmon Township has denied recommending the permit, and Moody County Commissioners eventually vote on the issue. The Trent meeting was a time for area residents to talk about their concerns or support for the project.
Randall, who has a permit for 3,000 beef cattle, would end that operation if the dairy is permitted. Water for the dairy would come from two, or perhaps three, wells on the property because Big Sioux Water Corp. has said because of costs, it would not be able to do the upgrades to its system, said Kendra Eng, Moody County zoning director. If permitted, he township also would have a road-haul agreement with the dairy and trucks would be provided with an approved route.
When Bidart was building Wildwood Dairy, the construction company doing the work was cited for problems, including bad road conditions and allowing workers to live in pods on the property.
Well driller Jim Lacey of Trent said he is concerned about water issues with the dairy.
“The water is going to make it into the Sioux River, folks. It’s a long-term thing we’re looking at,” he said. “That isn’t a position. It’s facts.”
Wayne Flemmer, who has land a mile from the dairy, considers the Randalls friends.
“I came into this process very open minded,” he said. But there are too many concerns and the construction of the previous dairy was considered a “nightmare.”
“Why don’t we hold them accountable and fully resolve those issues rather than have them double up on another project?” he asked. “I would like to have a plan in place to hold them accountable.”
He also said on this big of a project, Bidart should have showed up for the hearing himself.
“I strongly encourage you not to pass it at this time, until we have a greater amount of comfort and hold people accountable for the issues we’re hearing today.”