From: Tim Ahrens and Sam Streukens

 

As Winona County members of the Land Stewardship Project, it is a critical moment for our organization to make a statement on Daley Farm’s evasion of the law and assert the interests of the community. Not only does Daley Farm want to shatter Winona County’s 1,500 animal unit cap (proposing to expand their dairy to 5,900 animal units) that gravely endangers our drinking water, but they are represented by a well-financed legal team that challenges this community’s values. 

On Thursday, December 2, Winona County taxpayers will, once again, host Daley Farm before the Board of Adjustment, in what would typically be a hearing. However, as a result of pressure from their attorneys, representatives of Daley Farm will be allowed to speak while the public will go unheard. We view this as not only an attack on our rights, but also as a play to create imbalance in the proceedings that day. Daley’s representation argues that a record has already been made, and in such creates an opportunity where they, and only they, may add to that record. This flies in the face of democracy.

In 2019 Daley Farm’s petition to exceed the county animal unit cap ordinance clearly failed to meet the legal criteria necessary to be granted a variance. This likely hasn’t changed. While they have a right to appeal a Board of Adjustment ruling, we will not allow them to change the outcome of their initial application by putting their interests over that of the people’s. On Sunday, nearly 60 Winona County residents showed up to protect the water, embody democratic participation, and support a local food economy that benefits the farmer, the land, and the community. Nearly 200 signatories from St. Charles to Winona oppose the Daley’s expansion. 

Now, the Daley’s want Board of Adjustment (BOA) chairman Robert Redig to recuse himself from the December 2 hearing, and to step down from the board, because he testified against their proposal months before he was appointed to the Board of Adjustment. Daley’s call for Redig to step down, combined with their unjust but successful call for no public comment, represents the type of total control they’re attempting to take over Winona County governance. Make no mistake, Daley’s don’t seek fairness. They seek advantage. They’ve made no call for BOA Member Jordan Potter’s recusal, even though he spoke against the very animal unit ordinance that Daley Farm seeks to shatter with their expansion. 

There may be some that support the Daleys; however, we assert that there is wide opposition to this factory farm and its implications for local water quality, the survival of small and mid-size farms, and our rural communities.

Everyone must be heard by the public officials that represent us. We know that rural folks are interested in stewardship and that factory farms threaten our water and people. We must continue to protect our community by supporting a just food and farming system in Winona County and opposing this expansion.