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Mega-farm decision delayed by IDOA

By Tony Carton

For the Journal-Standard

Published: Thursday, May 29, 2008 9:41 PM CDT



The Illinois Department of Agriculture postponed a decision Thursday on the status of a proposed large-scale dairy farm near Nora.


The agency said it needs more information on the windbreaks planned for the farm by California dairyman A.J Bos. The windbreak would be part of the odor control system for the farm, which could house nearly 4,500 cows if it is completed.


“They want to know the distance between the pond and where it’s [the windbreak] going to be placed,” he said. “They also want to know when it will be planted.”


The original dairy applications requested permits for two facilities, but Agricultural Service Manager Terry Feldmann said that because of problems with setback rules, Bos is concentrating on obtaining construction permits for the Traditions South facility. That change alters the scope of the entire operation.


“I don’t have the figures in front of me, but I think that brings us to 6850 animal units or just over 4400 cows,” Feldmann said.


An animal unit is the number of cows multiplied by the animal-unit factor of 1.4, plus the number of young or dry stock multiplied by the factor of 0.6.





He added that those lower animal population figures also reduce the acreage designated for manure processing or nutrient management. “The south site only has in the vicinity of 35 acres for manure processing,” he said.


Feldmann said that the results of a third set of soil core samples were sent directly to the IDOA for Thursday’s hearing. “The IDOA requested [borings]a minimum of twenty feet horizontally and twenty feet below the planned [pond] bottom,” he noted. “We went just over twenty foot horizontally in two different directions and I’m not sure how far below the planned bottom we went, but it was closer to thirty feet. We didn’t find any evidence of karstification in those borings.”


Karst is an area of irregular limestone in which erosion produces fissures, sinkholes, underground streams, and caverns.




In Court


Judge Kevin Ward, State of Illinois Circuit Court, 15th Judicial Circuit ordered the IDOA to appear in court Friday, May 30, to justify its refusal to release documents under a Freedom of Information Act request related to copyrighted documents submitted to the IDOA by Feldmann.


Ward also ordered the Department to turn over the documents to him for inspection prior to the trial.




In a press release, David Albee, attorney for complainant Bern Colleran said that because the IDOA refused to release the documents, the citizens of Illinois are unable to have independent experts study these drawings and determine the level of threat that this facility will place on their only source of drinking water.


Feldmann said the IDOA is not necessarily interfering with the neighbors’ legal opposition to the proposed facility. Rather, they are seeking to protect an “intrinsically valuable” item of written work that can be sold like any other commodity in the marketplace. That sale or even the act of making those items public would deprive Feldmann, their private owner, the economic benefit of his proprietary interest, he argued.


The hearing appears on the Galena courthouse docket in courtroom two at 1 P.M.


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