LEWISTON, Minn. — Five agricultural groups filed an amici curiae — or “friend of the court” — motion earlier this month with the Minnesota Court of Appeals in support of Daley Farm’s request that a recent District Court ruling be overturned.
The groups on the
are Minnesota Milk Producers Association, Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation, Minnesota Pork Producers Association, Minnesota State Cattleman’s Association and Winona County Farm Bureau. In the filing, the groups claim that the Land Stewardship “tainted” the Winona County Board of Adjustment’s decision to deny Daley’s request for a variance from the zoning rules.
In 2018, Daley Farms, a family-owned dairy near Lewiston, applied for a waiver of the county’s 1,500 animal unit cap for feedlots to expand its farm to 6,000 animal units. The county’s board of adjustment denied the request in February 2019.
Daley Farms has appealed to the Minnesota Court of Appeals.
“The broad legal issue raised in this appeal is whether the Daley family farm was treated fairly by the Winona County Board of Adjustment. This Court, as well as Winona County and the District Court below, are essentially caught in the crossfire of what amounts to a decades-old war between differing factions within the livestock industry over what constitutes a “proper” farming operation,” reads the motion from the ag groups. “Intervenor/Defendant Land Stewardship Project (LSP) in particular, has, for decades, promoted the idea that only certain kinds of farming operations should be allowed by society to operate.”
The motion goes on to describe the Daley Farm as the kind of farming operation that “society should be advocating for rather than actively opposing.”
“The Daley farm is a multi-generational, independent family-owned and operated business, with no outside investment of any kind, that simply wants to modernize and expand in order to include the next generation of family farmers,” reads the motion.
Response from LSP
The lawsuit describes the Land Stewardship Project as an “anti-agricultural group.” In an emailed press release, Land Stewardship Project rejected that title.
“During the past quarter-century we have helped launch hundreds of farming operations through our Farm Beginnings program,” reads the Land Stewardship statement. “Through our Soil Builders’ Network, we are supporting farmers of all types in Winona County and throughout the region who want to build soil profitably. Every year, our members and staff work at the Minnesota Capitol to pass legislation in support of small and medium-sized farmers.”
The Land Stewardship Project called the latest filing a “desperate attempt to yet again bypass the will of the people and advance the interests of a select few at the expense of the community.”
If the District Court’s decision is successfully appealed, it would allow the Lewiston dairy operation to circumvent Winona County’s zoning rules related to livestock operation size. Daley Farm would be allowed to expand to 6,000 animal units (roughly 4,500 cows). The current county livestock operation size limit is 1,500 animal units.
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