By Jennifer Kotila
COKATO, MN Forsman Farms, located in Stockholm Township off US Highway 12 east of Cokato, is in the midst of planning the construction of two new barns on the east side of its facility after a recent expansion completed in the last couple of years.
The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) has prepared an environmental assessment worksheet (EAW) for the project, and is seeking public comment through Tuesday, Aug. 6.
Part of the purpose of an EAW is to help the MPCA determine whether an environmental impact statement a more in-depth environmental review is needed.
The entire scope of the project consists of constructing two new chicken confinement buildings, remodeling six existing barns, and adding two wells, according to the MPCA.
“The barns will be a bit larger to meet new regulations and accommodate an improved manure management system,” said Forsman Farms Vice President of Compliance Nate Taylor.
The egg-producing farm is planning to remodel existing barns on the west side of the facility to add an improved manure management system.
The changes will allow the farm to add 661,000 laying hens, resulting in a total capacity of 1,536,000 chickens, according to the MPCA.
After construction is complete, the company expects to hire up to 10 more employees to manage the barns and process the additional eggs, Taylor noted.
“This is a new remodeling project as we seek to better manage and process our manure,” Taylor said.
In the last two years, Forsman Farms has added three chicken confinement buildings, with attached manure buildings and a well for each building.
The chicken confinement buildings utilize a stacked cage system with a continuous conveyer belt that transfers the manure into the adjacent manure building.
The manure is stored dry and transferred to other parties for land application, including selling the manure to commercial fertilizer applicators to be applied to land throughout the state.
The two new barns being built will utilize the same layout and manure collection system, but will also have a new feature to reduce odors at the facility.
Each of the new barns will be designed with a cupola structure extending about 30 feet from the roof at the east end of the building to vent odors and dust through convection using fans.
Other barns at Forsman Farms
The oldest barn for laying hens on the farm was constructed in 1976.
Three additional barns were constructed in 1998, 2001, and 2003, according to the EAW.
Those barns use a tiered-cage system with an 8-foot-deep manure storage pit beneath each barn, where manure is stored for up to one year.
Two additional barns were constructed in 2004 and 2005, and manure in each of those barns is removed five times a year and pushed with a loader into the existing manure barn, which was constructed in 2008, according to Peter Forsman of Forsman Farms.
These barns will be remodeled to accommodate a dry manure collection system similar to the newly-constructed barns.
Before its recent expansion, Forsman Farms had a capacity for 480,000 laying hens, and the addition of three barns in the last two years has increased the capacity to about 1 million laying hens.
Contacting the MPCA for comments
Those who wish to see the entire environmental assessment worksheet (EAW) can click on the link at www.dasselcokato.com.
Comments may be submitted in writing to Charles Peterson, MPCA, 520 Lafayette Rd. N, Saint Paul, MN 55155, or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
To request a draft of the EAW, or ask questions about the environmental review process, contact Peterson at (651) 757-2856.