May 03, 2012 Worthington Daily Globe
Livestock expansions: Boom or rebound? by Julie Buntjer
PIPESTONE — After a multi-year lull in livestock and facilities expansion in southwest Minnesota, area counties are seeing increased demand for special permits that allow farmers to build new barns and expand existing feedlots.
Stories about new building projects in Nobles County in recent weeks show that growth is taking place in the swine, dairy and cattle industries. The same seems to be happening in neighboring counties, as well.
In Murray County, zoning administrator Jean Christoffels said 13 livestock producers have either completed the public hearing process or are in the midst of it now. Swine barn expansion has been the most prevalent in Murray County, and the same can be said for building activity in Pipestone County.
Robert Taubert, managing partner for New Horizon Farms LLP, an 11,000-sow farrow-to-finish swine production operation with barns in Pipestone, Rock, Murray, Nobles and Lincoln counties, said the pork industry is showing a rebound after a period of downsizing that began in 2006.
Taubert said the reason for growth now stems from a multitude of factors. “Our export market keeps increasing, and (the pork industry) has improved demand on the product,” he said. “Corn is still the cheapest in northwest Iowa and southwest Minnesota, and you can’t afford to haul feed around.”
Also leading to growth in livestock facilities is that sow productivity has increased two to three percent in the last six or seven years, Taubert said.
“You just need more facilities to put them in,” he added.