Western South Dakota's Only Ranch Station

Proposed 12,500+ head dairy to be built in Hamlin County

A herd of cows in a holding pen at Marshall West Dairy at Riverview Dairy, near Veblen, S.D.

HAZEL, S.D.  — People in Hamlin County gathered to hear plans by one of the largest dairy farms in the country that wants to build another one in their back yard.

Over 100 attendees packed the Hazel Community Center to hear about the new proposed dairy farm.

The proposed $86 million dollar concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO) facility will span over 250 acres and will hold over 12,500 cows. The land it will be developed on belongs to Rock and Robb Arnold, brothers to South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem

According to Rock Arnold, one of their main motivators for bringing this project to Hazel was to revitalize the community and bring more jobs to the area.

“They (Riverview) have small town values. They want to be a member and partner in our community whose employees will seek to go to school and build lives here,” said Arnold, resident and landowner.

After the presentation the floor was opened to the public for questions and concerns. Some of the topics included road and water use, odor prevention and labor.

Questions regarding ongoing infrastructure needs and an increase in providing education and housing opportunities for incoming workers were also a part of the discussion.

Win Noem is mayor of Brant, S.D. He attended the meeting to share what his community has seen with Riverview dairy farm over the last five years. He said agriculture is the areas economic development engine and the brant community’s experience with Riverview has been positive.

Minnesota-based Riverview has five operating dairies—two in Marshal County by Veblen, one in southwest Hamlin County, one in neighboring Clark County, and one in Corson County—and another soon to start operations in southeast Clark County.

Representatives with Riverview stressed they plan to buy, sell inputs and resource labor locally. “We would also prefer for custom app manure applicators, custom hay cutters, people who drive truck to haul our silage, people to haul our milk. We would prefer to work with locals to provide those services for us as well,” said Cassidy Watzke, Riverview representative.

The new CAFO will have to rely on outside labor since over 98% of Hamlin County’s labor force already have jobs.  According to the milk lobby, a majority of milkers are immigrants. South Dakota farmer/feeder  and former state ag secretary Walt Bones, Chancellor, S.D., has said South Dakota needs more foreign-born workers.

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