Tuls says no new dairy in La Prairie, cites ordinances

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Catherine W. Idzerda
Thursday, June 5, 2014

TOWN OF LA PRAIRIE—On Wednesday afternoon, Nebraska dairyman Todd Tuls said, “Life is too short to try to build a dairy in La Prairie.”

Wednesday night, the La Prairie Town Board held a hearing on ordinance changes that could make it more difficult to operate a mega dairy like the one Tuls wants to build.

A procedural glitch caused the vote to be delayed: The zoning committee's recommendation was accidentally left off the agenda. Meeting agendas must be posted 24 hours in advance.

La Prairie Board Chairman Allan Arndt said he expected the ordinance amendments to pass in July.

“You didn't hear any objection to it tonight,” Arndt said.

About 21 people attended the meeting.

Tuls, who runs a 4,600-cow dairy in the town of Bradford with his son T.J., said he was no longer interested in building in La Prairie. The announcement comes about four months after the elder Tuls said he was considering building another dairy, possibly in La Prairie.

To build there, the Tulses would have had to find enough land to spread manure generated from their operations. State law requires approximately one acre per cow.

Larger operations such as the Tulses usually rent land to spread manure. The manure is piped or trucked to nearby fields.

The ordinance amendments in La Prairie will

--Prohibit spraying of liquid animal waste.

--Regulate the amount of time pipe or hoses transporting animal waste could be in town right-of-ways.

--Adopt state standards for concentrated animal feeding operations, more commonly called CAFOs.

--Allow the town to ask for road improvement or repairs for construction damage. Any business involving, over the course of 12 months, a weekly average traffic weight of more than 400 tons—excluding season crop activities and farm equipment—would be “deemed to cause excessive damage to town roads.”

Tuls believes La Prairie's ordinance changes were an attempt to stop him from opening another 4,500- to 5,000-cow dairy.

“They say they're for (agriculture), but they don't want my form of (agriculture),” Tuls said.

Tuls challenged the board on road restrictions.

“Ask them how they're going to regulate (the weight) of their own grain trailers,” Tuls said.

If Tuls is no longer interested in La Prairie, is he looking elsewhere in the county?

“It all depend on if local governments are going to discriminate against a large dairy,” he said.

According to the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, 11 Rock County towns have livestock siting rules. These include  Union, Porter, Magnolia, Spring Valley, Plymouth, Rock, Turtle, Clinton, Bradford, Johnstown and Harmony.

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