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DNR approves Rock Prairie Dairy permit

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ANN MARIE AMES
July 1, 2011
— Todd and TJ Tuls have something extra to celebrate this holiday weekend.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources on Thursday issued the permit for the Tuls to operate their 5,200-cow Rock Prairie Dairy.


The issuance was a formality. The $30 million project has been under construction since early April. The county and the town of Bradford already have issued their permits.


“I’m looking forward to finally having an open house so we can show people the whole thing. They can see what it’s all about, and we can put some of these false rumors to rest,” said Tuls, referring to concerns from nearby residents about the facility’s possible negative health, environmental or economic impacts.


Tuls, of Columbus, Neb., plans to be milking cows at the new site by the end of the year.


TJ Tuls will manage the facility. The family has purchased a home in Bradford Township, and TJ is living there full-time during construction, Todd Tuls said.


While he’s looking forward to a breather from permit applications, Todd Tuls wants approval for one more thing.


Last summer when Tuls proposed the dairy project to state and local officials, it included more than 15 center-pivot irrigators that would pump watered-down waste from storage lagoons onto growing crops.


The waste would be untreated.


The practice is not common in Wisconsin, although it is used by a handful of farms, according to DNR staff. It is more common in Western states.


Todd Tuls uses center pivots as one method of emptying his manure lagoons in Nebraska.


Many residents oppose the practice, and a Wisconsin Health Department official wrote a letter to the DNR about the impact sprayed manure could have on public health.


Tuls in March pulled the pivots from the plan in order to start construction on schedule. He will work with DNR staff to find a way to address the health department’s concerns, he said.


“I have kind of put it off to the side because there’s enough going on,” he said. “The intent has always been out there.”



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