Responsible Ag in Karst Country

For the most up to date info, visit the RAKC Facebook page.

Locals (Fillmore/Houston County residents), MARK YOUR CALENDARS! Newburg Township will be having a public hearing on a township wide moratorium on any new large feedlots on August 23rd at 6pm at the Newburg Township Hall. (43769 County Highway 34, Mabel, MN 55954) It is absolutely crucial that residents show up and support the Newburg Township supervisors and the moratorium. Facebook Event Page here.


RAKC is a group of farmers, rural residents, business owners, Amish, and other citizens from southeast Minnesota who are deeply concerned about the proposed Catalpa LLC hog facility. We are asking MPCA Commissioner John Linc Stine to follow the law and order a full Environmental Impact Statement for Catalpa LLC.

Township Level Manual from Land Stewardship Project: Protecting Your Township From Unwanted Development

Coverage of our EIS YES bus trip to meet with Governor Dayton and MPCA Officials:

Rochester Post Bulletin




Star Trib:


Get involved by following the RAKC Facebook Page and emailing

Concerns about the proposed Catalpa LLC hog facility that must be addressed by an Environmental Impact Statement:
  • If a sinkhole opens up underneath the manure pit, the effect will be catastrophic.
    • New sinkholes form every year in southeastern MN.
    • Manure pits holding 9 million gallons of manure are in danger of catastrophic failure due to sinkhole formation, leaks and spills.
  • Catalpa LLC must have a plan to compensate neighbors if wells become contaminated with manure that runs off fields, into sinkholes and then into the groundwater.
    • Rainwater in areas with our Karst bedrock can go from surface to depths of nearly 200 feet in a couple hours, deeper than many wells.
  • The facility may have a long term impact be on neighboring wells and streams.
    • This facility would use 8.8 million gallons of water per year.
    • According to the DNR, “We have reviewed your well drilling proposal and determined that the proposed rate and volume may interfere with other water users or have negative impacts on nearby lakes, streams or wetlands.”
  • Catalpa, LLC must explain how they will compensate neighbors for reduced property values.
    • “Big hog farms tend to destroy nearby home values. A 2008 Iowa study of more than 5,000 homes found houses within three miles downwind from a confined animal farm lost as much as 44 percent of their value.”
    • “Homes not directly downwind still suffered a 16 percent loss in value. And size matters: every 10 percent increase in size for the nearby farm correlated with a 0.67 percent decrease in home value.”
  • Catalpa must have a long term plan for monitoring hydrogen sulfide and ammonia levels at each manure application site as well as the facility.
    • No commitments have been made by the proposer or MPCA  to install biofilters that would lower toxic and smelly gases produced by the nearly 9 million gallon manure storage tank.
  • Catalpa must explain how shareholders will compensate people in the area whose children become ill from gases released from the facility.
    • According to a study from 2012, “children with a larger relative environmental exposure to CAFOs had a significantly increased risk of physician-diagnosed asthma.”
  • The cumulative effects of the massive increase in field applied manure on local trout streams and fish populations must be addressed.
    • Projects of this scale have the potential to contribute to massive fish kills.
    • In Iowa, “Over the past decade 4,464,257 fish have been killed by animal waste, according to the Iowa DNR Fish Kill database.”
  • Due to increased numbers of semis and tanker trucks using rural roads, Catalpa LLC should be required to  reimburse the township for increased road maintenance costs.
    • Newburg Township is now given a limited amount of money to maintain roads.
  • This facility will have a long term economic impact on Newburg and the surrounding area which must be analyzed carefully.
    • The track record of the effects of CAFOs like Catalpa on local economies is established in Iowa.
      • “While small businesses in Iowa increased almost 30 percent over the past decade, the average number of non-farm small businesses per county declined about 25 percent in counties with large hog farms. This runs counter to industry claims that consolidation and contract farming opens new markets and opportunities to farming communities.”
Questions that must be addressed by an EIS:
  • Given the extensive errors in the released Environmental Assessment Worksheet, how can community members trust the information about the project will be completely corrected, unless there is a full EIS?
  • Why did the MPCA approve the release of an EAW full of serious errors, and will you correct them in an EIS?
  • How can the MPCA guarantee that there won’t be many more finishing barns in the area to handle all the piglets produced unless an EIS explores phased actions that inevitably follow a farrowing operation?
  • Without doing an EIS, how can the MPCA guarantee that the groundwater won’t be polluted, since the site is in a highly complex, active and still poorly understood karst area?
  • How will we be able to predict the impact the Catalpa LLC facility will have on neighborhood property values unless an EIS is completed?
  • Without doing an EIS, how can the community know the long term economic effects of a massive hog operation on Newburg and the surrounding area?
  • Given that new sinkholes open up every year in this area, how will MPCA regulate impacts of a sinkhole forming under the pig manure storage area, without a thorough karst analysis in an EIS?
  • Given the secretive nature of the identity of Catalpa, LLC, doesn’t MPCA need an EIS in order to identify the real owners and operators, and to investigate their track records in similar hog operations?
  • Since the EAW and permit are vague on manure management plans, would an EIS assist MPCA in writing permits that specify complete incorporation of manure at the time of application? Changeable weather makes promises to incorporate within 24 hours meaningless.
  • Given the chaos in MPCA’s current approach to monitoring and regulating odors from similar hog confinement operations, is an EIS required to investigate whether an effective odor monitoring and regulation plan is possible, and if so what it should include?
  • Given the history and present level of nutrient pollution in groundwater and surface water in Fillmore county, is an EIS needed to identify the scenario where no significant environmental impact from 5000 sow’s manure could occur?
  • Should an EIS explore needed components for an ongoing groundwater and surface water monitoring plan to be paid for by Catalpa?
By all means, spread the word! And thank you for all your hard work!