A proposed 2,140-cow dairy in Dodge County, Minnesota, has been tabled. Partners Bill Rowekamp and Ben Zaitz announced their plans to put the Ripley Dairy project on hold for the foreseeable future due to continued litigation and the resulting financial burden.

More than three years ago, Rowekamp and Zaitz embarked on a partnership to build and operate a state-of-the-art dairy facility that would house 2,140 cows on farmland owned by Zaitz near Lewiston, Minn.

The partners acquired all the necessary permits from the county and state. All permitting boards voted unanimously in favor of the project. RipleyTownship supervisors appointed a Dairy Review Board to conduct an exhaustive review of the dairy and develop a list of conditions, which were agreed to be included in the building design. The township supervisors approved the project following this review.

Despite these efforts, the project encountered opposition from RipleyTownship residents and the Land Stewardship Project, a Minnesota activist group that advocates small, family farms. As a result, the Ripley Township Supervisors approved a temporary moratorium on the construction of large-scale livestock operations earlier this year.

The Ripley Dairy partners challenged the moratorium and won. It is now being appealed by the township.

Ripley Township also began the process of writing a zoning ordinance earlier this year. According to an article in the Winona Daily News, the residents of RipleyTownship will vote in December on a zoning law that prohibits the construction of any farm with more than 1,000 cows.

To date, Rowekamp and Zaitz have spent more than $250,000 on engineering, environmental review and other fees associating with obtaining permits for construction of the dairy. In addition, the partners have incurred legal expenses of $135,000.

 According to a news release issued by Ripley Dairy on Nov. 1, the dairy would have supplied renewable energy for more than 400 homes through the use of a methane digester.

Ripley Dairy; Winona Daily News