Prowers Planning Commission Okays Dairy Farm Land Use Permit

Karl Nyquist

Karl Nyquist

By a three to one vote, the Prowers County Planning Commission approved the provisional special use permit application from Karl Nyquist of C & A Companies, to construct a dairy cattle operation south of Holly. A public hearing was held by the Commission at the Prowers Fairgrounds Home Ec Building Tuesday morning, July 15. Nyquist and several associates described the 7,000 head operation which will be located east of Highway 89, about six miles south and 2 miles east of Holly in land section 18.

Nyquist is partnering with Syracuse Dairy which has five dairy yards in operation in western Kansas. This will be their first venture into Colorado. Some Holly residents, mostly neighboring farms and ranch operations attended, with several voicing concerns about the agricultural and economic impact the new operation could bring to the area. Use of water, wind-blown dust, impact to county roads, impact to the local school system, odors, potential need for more law enforcement, and the type of people who would be employed at the dairy headed their list of concerns.

Nyquist presented some operations statistics, covering water usage, state and federal EPA regulations which will cover the open-lot dairy, increase in county taxes, annual salary of approximately 24 full time employees and cost estimate for the construction as well as an estimate of the amount of local feed which will be purchased for the herd.

He estimated 800 acre feet of water will be used per year, based on 35-40 gallons of drinking water per day per cow, coupled with 135 acre feet of water for processing and basic operations at the farm. That averages to about 100 gallons per day per cow. There will be 7,000 head total, but only 6,000 used at a time for milk production with the spare 1,000 set to dry in rotation. The water source is the Southern High Plains Designated Basin and will not come from the Arkansas River. One well has already been drilled for testing to ensure an adequate supply and the general supply is rated as under appropriated.  Other figures associated with the dairy included the estimated milk production will be 420,000 pounds a day and estimated feed demand will run to 595,000 pounds per day.

The annual payroll for the full-time employees is estimated at $2M with $4M for the construction payroll and a total construction cost of $12M. Nyquist said he anticipates there will be a new annual demand for feed for Prowers County in the neighborhood of 108,600 tons, and estimated agricultural tax revenue will be $80,262. With some overhead for road upgrades for the county and other items, the figure is closer to $55,000.

One farm lies just within the one mile county notification zone with another farm, also to the south, just outside the one mile distance. Nyquist said a hold pond has been moved away from that area to help keep down any dust or odors from the feedlot operation. The hold ponds will be clay lined to feed three existing effluvium pivots north of the operation. A one foot berm will also surround the perimeter of the dairy farm to mitigate any potential spillover. On the map, Nyquist showed that the southern edge of the operation will be about 100 feet from the nearest county road. In order to maintain his permits the state will send in an inspection team twice a year and they will coordinate with county health and land use officials to see that BMP’s (Best Mitigation Practices) are followed. There will not be any test wells dug, as they are not required, but periodic testing will be conducted on the ponds for any leakage.

Concern was voiced a couple of times about what kind of employees would be hired and if additional potential students would become a drain on the capabilities of the Holly School District with need for ESL instructors for non-English speaking students. Ross Guebelle from Syracuse Dairy Colorado Farms estimated that their 180 employees had about 70% who spoke English or were bi-lingual. Nyquist said he also expected to have as many local applicants for the open positions once they started advertising in the regional media. He said the timetable is open for the start of the facility, but construction probably wouldn’t be underway until next spring.

Bill Grasmick spoke to the crowd just prior to the vote, stating that it had taken a lot of work to get the Syracuse operation interested in bringing a dairy into Colorado.  He added that he respects the concerns brought forward by some members of the audience, because he believes they’re all real.   “They don’t have to be here as it would be just as easy for them to stay back in Kansas,” he stated.  Grasmick added the operation will operate under state, federal and local controls and there would be ways we could all work together to make this an economically viable operation for the county.  Board member David Emick spoke in favor of the operation, saying it was important for Prowers County to take a step forward and work to a win-win scenario.  He added that the partnership with Syracuse Dairy has been successful for local ag operators and it would be a mistake that could be regretted five years out, if the community was to turn away the new dairy operation.

By Russ Baldwin

Filed Under: AgricultureBusinessCommissionerscommunityCountyEconomyEmploymentEnvironmentFeaturedHollyHot TopicsUtilities


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