Farm Horizons, June 2014

Consider animal lot compliance before purchasing a property

By Lori Brinkman
Assistant Carver County Feedlot Administrator

Occasionally, I receive phone calls from Realtors and prospective buyers, inquiring how many animals are allowed on a property that is for sale.

The answer to that is not always simply dependent upon the number of acres in a particular parcel, or the fact that the site was once operated as a feedlot, although those two factors are part of the equation.

The Carver County Feedlot Code specifically addresses limitations on the number of animal units per acre on small parcels, setbacks to existing homes, shoreland areas, the various rural zoning districts, and individual township policies. The equation can be quite complicated in a county like Carver County, due to the rural urban interface.

I received a phone call from a Realtor this past winter regarding a particular property that was for sale. The property had once been operated as a dairy, but has not had animals on it for nearly 20 years.

After administrative review of the property, it was determined that it was not limited by any requirements in the county feedlot ordinance. However, when a prospective buyer is about to invest several thousand dollars on the property of their dreams, administrative review is not enough. Compliance review is required.

Conducting an open lot evaluation at a feedlot that is not an active feedlot is dependent on two main factors – sensitive features and discharge points leading to those sensitive features.

Identifying sensitive features and finding discharge points is not always an easy task, but it’s possible.

Here are a few things to consider.

1) Contact the county environmental services department or the local Soil & Water Conservation District (SWCD) to inquire about existing feedlot or erosion control files kept for the property, or for assistance in reviewing aerial photos of the property.

2) If there is no county record of the previous feedlot operation or related information, visit with adjacent landowners to better understand drainage on the property. There is a good chance properties share land drainage systems which might act as a conveyance for open lot runoff.

3) Take a complete tour of the property. Visit the property during snow melt or rainstorms to better understand drainage.

After much review, it was determined that the site in question was a pollution hazard to a creek at 10 animal units, or the equivalent of ten 1,000-pound animals. That’s not something a buyer who hopes to finish 50 beef cattle per year wants to find out after they’ve purchased a property.

I encourage all Realtors and prospective buyers to contact the local environmental services or zoning office prior to completing the sale of, or purchasing a rural property that will be utilized for livestock.

In Carver County, contact Lori Brinkman at (952) 361-1811.

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