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Letters to the editor: Biogas bill supports toxic polluters


April 23, 2021

There is a bill currently proposed in the legislature that would subsidize huge animal confinement operations by turning their toxic manure problem into “biogas,” under the misnomer “Natural Gas Innovation Act” (SF 421/HF239). It would also give our tax money to natural gas suppliers so they can develop the infrastructure to process this toxic manure.

It is my opinion that we should discourage the establishment or support of giant animal confinement operations which produce manure that ends up being a toxic pollutant in need of huge, expensive, natural gas industry “fixes” like those being promoted in this bill. Instead, we should support farms that are using manure in more sustainable ways.

One example of sustainable manure use is two farms right here in Carlton County. One of the farms is a cow/calf operation with about 80 mostly pasture-fed cows that produces about 600 cubic yards of manure during the winter feeding season. The other farm is a truck farm producing 15-20 acres of vegetables per year. The truck farmer purchases manure from the beef farmer and makes aerobically digested compost, following USDA organic standards to be used as fertilizer for growing vegetables. Both are full-time farmers, making a decent living for their families in Carlton County.

In addition to the points above, I oppose SF 421/HF239 because it is likely to benefit no one in Carlton or Pine counties.

John Fisher-Merritt,

Wrenshall farmer and Land Stewardship Project member


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