Jan. 16 2024 10:11 AM

Five organizations file court motion to participate in support of Daley Farm

The information below has been supplied by dairy marketers and other industry organizations. It has not been edited, verified or endorsed by Hoard's Dairyman.

In seeking to ensure fairness for livestock farmers statewide, five farm groups are asking the Minnesota Court of Appeals to allow them to officially advocate for a family farm in Lewiston that is looking to expand but has been mired in a years-long legal battle.

On Jan. 4, the groups — Minnesota Milk Producers Association, Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation, Minnesota Pork Producers Association, Minnesota State Cattlemen’s Association and Winona County Farm Bureau — filed a request to participate in the Daley Farm case as amici curiae or “friend of the court.”

The broad legal issue raised in the Daleys’ appeal is whether the multigenerational family-owned farm was treated fairly by the Winona County Board of Adjustment in denying the farm a permit to increase the size of its herd. The groups said they want to protect Minnesota livestock farmers from facing bias at the local level when pursuing an expansion.

“This Court would benefit from a thorough examination of the strengths of (Minnesota’s) corporate farm law and the various farming structures that are allowed to operate in Minnesota as it considers whether the Daley family farm was treated fairly in this case,” the groups wrote in their court brief.

Earlier, a district court judge ruled that three members of the Board of Adjustment prejudged the original decision to deny a variance needed for expansion.

“Ironically, it is farming operations like the Daleys’ that our society should be advocating for rather than actively opposing,” the groups wrote. “The Daley Farm is a multi-generational, independent family-owned and operated business, with no outside investment of any kind, that simply wants to modernize and expand in order to include the next generation of family farmers.”

The legal brief filed by the farm groups asks the Court of Appeals to consider two concepts:

1. Whether allowing the permitting process to play out as it did for the Daleys would empower other counties to appoint biased board members to make decisions that hurt family farms.

2. Whether farms have a legal right to have their evidence decided on an expansion permit within 60 days of filing. The delays in the Daleys’ case have pushed this filing period far beyond that mark.

Individual comments from farm group leaders:

“This case is about the rights of family dairy farms and other animal agriculture operations to be judged fairly. If a farm meets the extensive environmental requirements of the law — as the Daleys have — a group of activists shouldn’t be able to stack the deck against you.”

— Lucas Sjostrom, executive director of Minnesota Milk Producers Association

“Minnesota Farm Bureau supports a diverse range of farmers and ranchers across the state. Winona County farmers have the same right to a fair and unbiased process when looking to start or expand a family farm, as do all farmers and ranchers in the state. We wish to be part of the conversation to ensure family farms are treated fairly in these matters, setting up the next generation for success and ensuring agriculture’s vitality across Minnesota for years to come.”

— Dan Glessing, president of Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation

“We need to ensure that livestock producers in the state of Minnesota are not subject to biased decision-making processes, and that they are treated fairly. Family farms deserve the right to expand for future generations, and, just like any other business operation, they deserve the right to a fair, unbiased county board decision.”

— Kaitlyn Root, executive director of Minnesota State Cattlemen’s Association

About Minnesota Milk Producers Association:

Minnesota Milk Producers Association is the Minnesota dairy industry’s leading grassroots organization. Its strength comes from members working together and focusing on three key areas: policy, engagement and membership. By focusing on these areas, the organization will advance the success of Minnesota’s dairy producers. More information: www.mnmilk.org.

About Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation:

To ensure Minnesota’s agricultural vitality, the Minnesota Farm Bureau amplifies its members’ voices through engagement, grassroots advocacy and agricultural awareness. Learn more about our efforts as an advocate for our nearly 30,000 members and 78 county Farm Bureaus at https://fbmn.org.

About Minnesota Pork Producers Association:

Minnesota Pork Producers Association is recognized as highly committed to continued development of a strong industry image that protects the best interests of members and impacts public policy, while producing both state and national industry leaders. More information: www.mppainsider.org.

About Minnesota State Cattlemen’s Association:

The Minnesota State Cattlemen’s Association is a membership-based organization representing cattle producers and individuals who are part of the Minnesota beef community. MSCA is primarily focused on addressing local, state and federal issues impacting the long-term viability of cattlemen in our state. For more information, visit www.mnsca.org.

About Winona County Farm Bureau:

The Winona County Farm Bureau is a trade association representing the interests of approximately 630 member families who are farmers, ranchers and others who have an interest in the future of agriculture.

Court filing: Read the court brief here.