The partners of Blackshirt Feeders LP are focused on building Nebraska’s largest and most advanced feedlot in Dundy County. They are also focused on protecting the environment and listening to the public concerns. With that in mind, the new feedlot just might not be north of Benkelman on the Chase and Dundy County line.
“It is crucial to Blackshirt Feeders that we are good neighbors,” said Blackshirt Feeders Managing partner Dr. Eric Behlke. “We heard the concerns from those who spoke at public hearings, and we have been provided the opportunity to change our plan in an effort to address those concerns and serve the greater good.” Blackshirt Feeders has identified a “potential new site” for their proposed feedlot. The company has made a new Conditional Use Permit application with Dundy County for the new site. Blackshirt Feeders will only build one feedlot in the county.
The new location is west of Haigler, about four miles north of Highway 34 along the stateline with Colorado.
Blackshirt Feeders gained approval from the Dundy County Commissioners on their initial Conditional Use Permit (CUP) application for a 100,000 head Feedlot on the Chase/Dundy County line on June 6. The Commissioner’s approval came after a contentious and controversial CUP application process that became public when the Dundy County Planning Commission first took up the matter at their meeting on February 1. The process involved three different public hearings in which dozens of citizens spoke of their support, opposition, or neutral stance on the proposed feedlot. The County Commissioners voted down a motion to approve the CUP Application following an April 5 public hearing. A subsequent legal opinion issued by Dundy County Attorney Gary Burke questioning the legality of the April 5 action, and was held up by an outside third party attorney group hired by the County Commissioners, resulted in the Commissioner’s decision to hold another public hearing and vote on the Blackshirt Feeders CUP on June 6.
The new proposal does not just involve a new site, but also an updated feedlot design.
`Dr. Behlke said there are no residents within two miles of the new site and there is less than 1/2 a mile of Dundy County roads that would be affected. The traffic would come from and go from the feedlot to the west into Colorado then north and south on the State Line road located about a quarter of the mile into Colorado. Dr. Behlke says the new site meets and exceeds all Dundy County Zoning requirements. The new feedlot would include construction of a methane digestor.
`A methane digester system, commonly referred to as an AD (anaerobic digester), is a device that promotes the decomposition of manure or ‘digestion’ of the organics in manure to simple organics and gaseous, biogas products. Dr. Behlke says they added the methane digester system so that manure can be removed from individual pens more frequently (approximately once per month), which will result in an even further reduction in odor, flies, and dust. Fresh manure is added to methane digestors, where heat and natural microbes speed up the decomposition process, and methane (i.e., natural gas) is harvested and sold as a renewable source of energy (while also protecting the environment from greenhouse gas emissions from pen surface manure). He said the remaining digestate is mostly odor-free and a nutrient rich fertilizer. He explained that in order to make the construction of the methane digester feasible they had to increase the capacity size of the feedlot from 100,000 head, to 150,000 head. At capacity the new facility would have an employee base of 127 people.
BlackshirtgraphDr. Behlke said building the methane digester added another $100-million to the cost of construction. It will cost another $100-million to build the feedlot, which will still include building all pens with Roller Compacted Concrete.
Dr. Behlke says the total construction cost of the new facility at the new site is $200-Million. Unlike the initial plan to build on the Chase/Dundy County line, where the facility would have been in Chase County School and Fire District, the new site would only benefit Dundy County taxing entities. The new location is within the Dundy County School District. The Dundy County Planning Commission will hold a public hearing and meeting on Blackshirt Feeders new CUP application at 1:30pm in the Dundy County Courthouse District Courtroom on July 25.