Rosendale Dairy expands despite low milk prices
July 31, 2009 by Manure Manager
July 31, 2009, Picket, Wis. – Construction to double the size of Rosendale Dairy, the largest dairy operation in the state, is underway.
July 31, 2009 – Construction to double the size of Rosendale Dairy — the largest dairy operation in the state — is underway.
“They are pouring cement right now. The vendors were out of work so they were eager to start,” said Jim Ostrom, president and CEO of MilkSource Holdings, Inc. The dairy is located at N8997 County Trunk M in the town of Rosendale.
The new free-stall barn addition and rotary milking parlor will allow the dairy to increase its herd by 4,000 cows, bringing the total milk animals up to 8,000.
Ostrom said the expansion will continue, despite market conditions plunging below cost.
“The dairy economy is very tough, but we are prepared to get through this just fine,” Ostrom said.
Milk prices coming to dairy farmers in Fond du Lac County and elsewhere for 100 pounds of milk have hovered between $9 and $10 for several months, while it takes many between $14 and $16 to break even, said Paul Dyk, dairy and livestock agent for UW-Extension in Fond du Lac County. 13,200 cows
During a tour of the dairy last week, Ostrom showed off the efficiency of the operation, the health and happiness of his herd, and the dairy barn’s state-of-the art cooling system. Along with Rosendale Dairy, the company operates Omro Dairy in Omro and Tidy View Dairy in Kaukauna, for a combined total dairy herd of 13,200 cows.
Ostrom said he doesn’t expect the current project to be completed or housing cows for another four to six months. The dairy has applied for and is awaiting approval of another wastewater discharge permit from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. On May 12, the town of Rosendale Board approved a conditional use permit to allow the dairy to place a portable ready mix cement on site for the construction.
In addition to the environmental impact statement and WPDES permit, Rosendale Dairy has received 32 other permits and approvals necessary for its operation.
Rosendale Dairy’s opponent, PEPL (People Empowered Protect the Land) of Rosendale continue to press the DNR for greater protections from the water and air pollution caused by Wisconsin’s largest factory farm, said Jamie Saul, staff attorney for Midwest Environmental Advocates.
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“The risks to public health and the environment are clear. Almost a hundred million gallons of manure and wastewater annually will be spread, untreated, on land that is too saturated to safely accommodate it, putting the region’s wells and already-polluted lakes and streams at greater risk,” he said.
PEPL member Elaine Swanson said the DNR has responded favorably to the group’s petition for review of Rosendale Dairy's current WPDES Permit.
“They have agreed to sit down and discuss the many flaws we see in the permit. We expect to attend a meeting sometime in August,” Swanson said.
Last month the Town Board of Freedom approved the issuing of $18 million in industrial development revenue bonds to MilkSource Holdings for use at its three locations, said the town’s attorney Steve Frassetto.
“The company is doing some solid waste facility improvements at all those locations, and this allows them to process under a municipality with tax exempt status,” Frassetto said.
An advanced manure treatment system at Rosendale Dairy, expected to be completed within the next three months, will pull solids out of the water to more easily manage the manure and reduce odor.
A recent an ice cream social at the dairy drew around 2,000 “local folks,” Ostrom said. Now that the farm is up and running community residents can see how clean and state-of-the-art the operation really is, he pointed out. So far he’s had no complaints from anyone living in the vicinity.
“We answered a lot of questions, and people seemed comfortable with how things were being run,” he said. Dairy tours for schools and other groups will start up in fall.
The dairy has struck up a win-win deal with area landowners by spreading manure on acreage in return for crops. Ostrom said the demand for their “chemical-free” fertilizer outweighs what the dairy produces in manure waste.
The dairy operation mixes its own high-moisture feed, spending about $6 million annually, which goes into the local economy, he pointed out.