Rosendale Dairy: Permit hearing for Rosendale Dairy addresses key environmental issues

Contact: Jim Ostrom

Rosendale Dairy

(920) 371-4861

[email protected]

Dairy’s compliance with air, water and soil nutrient management rules detailed

RIPON, Wis. – A Thursday hearing on the environmental impact statement and operating permit for Rosendale Dairy provided details of the large dairy’s environmental and economic benefits.

The public hearing, organized by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources as part of the process for the environmental impact statement and Wisconsin Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit, was held in Ripon. From a discussion of the soil nutrient needs of area crop farmers to an explanation of the farm’s $6 million investment in environmental technology, Rosendale Dairy partner Jim Ostrom addressed the farm’s efforts to meet or exceed regulatory requirements.

“Rosendale Dairy is the most publicly scrutinized and heavily regulated dairy business in Wisconsin,” Ostrom said. “We have completed or are working toward 30 permits and other regulatory approvals related to local, state and federal rules. But beyond our extensive efforts to protect the environment, the scale and efficiency of our farm creates opportunities to reduce the carbon footprint of our production and provide real benefits.”

Set on 2,000 acres in the town of Rosendale in Fond du Lac County, Rosendale Dairy is a $70 million project that will create 70 permanent local jobs, support hundreds of construction jobs and purchase $32 million per year from local contractors and vendors. Thursday’s informational hearing provided an opportunity for members of the public to ask questions of the DNR and Rosendale staff as part of a public comment period that extends until Feb. 4.

As part of the permit application process, Rosendale Dairy has spent two years conducting extensive environmental research related to air quality, soil, water and nutrient management. In addition to conducting 250 soil boring tests and a number of water studies, the dairy retained engineering and environmental consultants to analyze everything from rural traffic patterns to operational efficiencies.

John Roach, general manager of Roach and Associates, a Seymour environmental engineering consultant, said Rosendale Dairy chose to go above and beyond state and federal standards in the design and development of its feed storage, waste storage and manure transfer systems.

“The partners of Rosendale Dairy decided to go the additional mile with items such as extra steel reinforcement, greater depth and thicker linings in the storage pits,” Roach said. “The waste and storm water management facilities were built with redundant back-up systems to provide an extra layer of environmental security and operational flexibility.”

Jeff Polenske, a certified nutrient management specialist from Appleton, said Rosendale Dairy’s plan to process manure and provide it to surrounding crop farms makes efficient use of a natural fertilizer source that will reduce area farmers’ dependency on fossil fuel-based fertilizers. Farmers in the area are now spending about $20 million per year to import chemical fertilizers for their crops.

“Corn and other crops require fertilizer to grow, and Rosendale Dairy’s nutrient management plan provides a mechanism to meet local farmers’ needs in a closely regulated way,” Polenske said. “Soil moisture, temperature and nutrient levels are tested regularly to ensure that groundwater and surface water such as rivers and streams are protected.”

John Ferguson, of Conestoga-Rovers Associates, conducted a review of Rosendale Dairy’s potential air emissions, including ammonia and hydrogen sulfide.

“We used five years of meteorological data in our projections and concluded that hydrogen sulfide emissions would fall just under 5 percent of the concentration levels allowed by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources,” Ferguson said. “Ammonia concentrations for any 24 hour period would run well below levels allowed under DNR standards and even the longer term annual criteria is modeled at only 20 percent of the levels allowed under DNR standards. So we are well within these measures of safety.”

As part of the approval process for the environmental impact statement and WPDES permit, Rosendale Dairy’s environmental studies and application documents are available for public review through the DNR.

Thursday’s hearing covered the first phase of the dairy, which will milk 4,000 cows. A second phase could add 4,000 cows for an eventual total of 8,000 cows.

Ostrom’s two existing large farms, Tidy View Dairy near Kaukauna and Omro Dairy near Omro, have achieved an exceptional environmental performance record and Omro Dairy received an award from the Thompson Administration for the dairy business’s efforts on behalf of the environment.