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Welcome to Grant County: Riverview Farms Buys Midwest Dairy Institute

Three years ago, public opposition drove Riverview Farms to back away from a plan to build a 5700-head dairy feedlot up by Milbank in Grant County. Riverview Farms had good reason to want a big facility in Grant County: Riverview sells all of its milk to Grant County's Valley Queen Cheese.

Grant County has more dairy cattle than any other South Dakota county than Brookings County. Click map to enlarge. Source: SD Department of Agriculture FY2010 Annual Dairy Report.

Riverview and Valley Queen appear to have found a way to get Riverview into Grant County. Riverview Farms is buying the Midwest Dairy Institute, which currently has a capacity of 2000 head of dairy cattle. The facility has operated a "school," providing training and public outreach and thus qualifying the facility for tax-exempt status. Riverview's purchase would appear to put MDI on the property tax rolls. How much comfort that will provide to neighboring small competitors remains to be seen.

Riverview must go before the Grant County Planning and Zoning Board August 8 to request its concentrated animal feeding operation variance. NO word yet on whether River

MDI was built by the Milbank Community Foundation in 1998. Mark Leddy is listed as president of that non-profit organization. Mark Leddy is also CEO of Valley Queen Cheese.