On Monday, a Minnesota Appeals Court ruled that a Harlan Poppler, a dairy farmer from Waverly, Minn., was entitled to damages after stray electrical currents from a local power cooperative impacted his herd.
According to the (Minneapolis) Star Tribune, the split ruling upheld a Wright County jury’s verdict, which awarded Poppler damages from Wright-Hennepin Cooperative Electric Association.
“They were killing these cows and putting them under stress and I had to sit here and watch that every day,” Poppler told the newspaper. “Do you have a pet? These cows are more than just a production animal to us. These cows are our livelihood.”
The case now moves back to Wright County to calculate the Popplers’ estimated $700,000 loss in profits.
Stray voltage is not a new problem for livestock producers. Dairy Herd Management has been writing about it since the mid-1990s. But lawsuits continue to be filed against electric cooperatives. In 2011 the Minnesota Legislature took steps to recognize the problem of stray voltage on dairy farms. The bill, HF1157, currently sits in legislative limbo.