Industrial animal agriculture a/k/a factory farms have the benefit of free water in the State of Minnesota. There is a reason these large industrial-sized operations are here in Minnesota. While there is a small permit fee of $150 for factory farms that require more than 1 million gallons of water, there is no charge for the water. There are nearly 18,000 registered feedlots in Minnesota. Of those, approximately 1,219 are classified as CAFOs (Confined Animal Feeding Operations) as they exceed 1,000 animal units. According to records obtained from the DNR, Dodge County Concerned Citizens learned that less than 20% of these large factory farms possess the requisite water appropriations permit. There is no accurate record of the millions and millions of gallons of water that are being taken up by industrial animal agriculture. These heavy users do not want to the regulators (and the public) to know how much water they're taking up from the aquifers. For example, a single 2,400 head swine factory farm requires approximately 3.5 million gallons of water per year. Our family farm in rural Dodge County is surrounded by 11 swine factory farms in a 3-mile radius, drawing nearly 40 million gallons of water from the aquifer per year. If we value water in Minnesota, and we do, it's time to charge these heavy users for the use of water. If these heavy users had to pay for water, it would force them to re-evaluate the economics of industrial animal agriculture, resulting in better stewardship of Minnesota's valuable water resources.
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