Contact: Joshua Wescott, Office of the County Executive (608) 267-8823 or cell (608) 669-5606
Manure Digester, Virtual Visitors Center Planned at Maunesha River Dairy
A family dairy farm in the Town of Bristol will expand, thanks in part to an economic development loan from Dane County and the Wisconsin Department of Commerce, County Executive Kathleen Falk announced today.
The $100,000 loan from the Dane County Revolving Loan Fund for Economic Development will help the Maunesha River Dairy build a new barn and renovate an existing one so the farm can purchase 400 new milk cows. When the expansion is complete, the farm will milk nearly 1,100 cows and add exciting new technology.
“This exciting project will create new jobs, generate green energy, and help showcase Dane County’s proud dairy industry,” County Executive Kathleen Falk said.
Maunesha River Dairy is owned by the Ballweg family who have been milking cows since 1946. Their dairy expansion will increase the herd from 644 cows to nearly 1,100 cows by building a 560 stall, eight-row cross-ventilated barn and renovate the existing free-stall barn.
The Ballwegs also plans to work with Clear Horizons to install a manure digester facility at the farm. Clear Horizons is the same company currently constructing Wisconsin’s first community manure digester, shared by several farms in the Dane County Towns of Vienna and Dane. Heat from the Maunesha River Dairy digester will be used by several greenhouses so that local produce growers can extend their growing seasons and continue to supply local foods throughout the winter.
In addition to the digester, the Maunesha River Dairy is also planning on putting in a visitor’s center with virtual demonstrations so visitors can watch activities throughout the farm through a series of live video feeds.
As part of this expansion, Maunesha River Dairy plans to create 7 full-time positions, meeting the RLF Loan requirements of 1 job for every $25,000 that is loaned.
The Department of Commerce and Dane County have been asked to provide gap financing in the amount of $200,000, $100,000 each, to purchase approximately 400 cows for this project. The Dane County Revolving Loan Fund for Economic Development loan of $100,000 has a seven year term at an interest rate of 4%.
The loan application was reviewed and recommended by the Dane County Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Commission, the CDBG Revolving Loan Subcommittee, and the Dane County Economic Development Committee. A resolution authorizing the loan was approved by the county board last night (October 7th) and will be signed by County Executive Falk.