We should all be providing the best stewardship possible for our groundwater resources. We all depend on it; it is a shared concern. But there is little data to back up other statements made in a recent commentary by Sonja Trom Eayrs (“At ground zero of a groundwater crisis,” May 13).
While many would applaud Eayrs for defending her family at all costs, there are significant details left out of her essay blaming feedlots and all levels of government for the alleged water issues in Dodge County, in southeastern Minnesota.
Manure is a valuable commodity that is bought and sold. It is used as a natural fertilizer and replaces commercial fertilizers that otherwise would have been used on farm fields. When placed at the right time and within the soil, it is the most sustainable source of fertility for our state’s farmers.
The public expects farmers to do what is right and follow the law. As farmers, we share that same expectation and commitment. Eayrs alleges that only a fraction of the feedlots in Dodge County have well permits or manure-management plans on file.
That may be true. But the vast majority of feedlots in the county do not need a well permit because they do not draw more than 1 million gallons of water a year, which triggers the need for a permit. Either the farm is small or medium-sized, or those operating it have implemented conservation technologies to minimize water use, meaning that no well permit is required. Technology has allowed pig farms to use 41 percent less water per pound of pork raised, compared with when our parents or grandparents raised pigs.
Eayrs’ claim that most feedlots in the county do not have manure-management plans filed with the county may also be true, but only because most of them, again, are small or medium-sized farms. By law, only larger farms are required to file such plans. Eayrs’ omission of this detail suggests that almost all are not complying with the law, which is simply not true.
She also raises the red herring of wells going dry because of feedlots in Dodge County. The state Department of Natural Resources is required to investigate these allegations and, to date in Dodge County, has not found any basis to support Eayrs’ claims.
I am afraid that the rest of Eayrs’ commentary does not provide proof of much of anything other than the fact that her parents did not want a specific feedlot built. I can understand that, but to blame others and to spread misleading information to bolster her case is not ethical and does not help anyone make sound judgments on managing our state resources.
Lori Stevermer, of Easton, Minn., is a pig farmer.