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Millner Brings Veblen East Immigrant Staff, Risks to Lake County

I won't spend a lot of time blogging about a reporter reporting on my blogging. But my blogging about the Veblen dairies has become part of the story, as Mikkel Pates includes me in his in-depth coverage of the ongoing saga of Rick Millner.

Of more importance is Pates's account of the developing operations at the Ramona dairy to which Millner is bringing his environmentally, economically, and socially dangerous management. Evidently the major jobs at Millner's new Lake County operation have all been filled by immigrants brought down from the Veblen East dairy. Hmmm... that doesn't inspire confidence.

And evidently Millner has already gotten to the locals:

Neighbors contacted by Agweek say little about the new dairy, wanting to stay open-minded and positive about a new neighbor [Mikkel Pates, "Up from the Ashes," AgWeek, 2011.09.19].

Sorry, Rick. You deserve neither open-mindedness nor positivity. Your track record of violating environmental and zoning rules is clear.

Letting Rick Millner operate a dairy (and apply to expand it) at the head of the watershed that drains directly into Madison and Lake Madison threatens the environmental and economic health of Lake County.


  1. Michael Black 2011.09.22

    They have a right to work here as long as their paperwork is in order.

  2. Nick A 2011.09.22

    So far, they have done a wonderful job cleaning the place up. It looks better than the day it originally opened. Azriel and his guys have been great to work with.. I'm willing to give them a chance.

  3. caheidelberger Post author | 2011.09.22

    Actually, DENR said Rick Millner didn't deserve another chance last fall, when they said they wouldn't issue a permit to Vista Family Dairy (Millner's investor group that tried to hang on to Veblen East) if Millner was involved in the management. Millner has wrecked dairies and violated regulations in three states. How many chances does he get? And are you willing to gamble Lake County's water quality on this miscreant?

  4. Barbara Hall 2011.09.23

    Environmental and zoning issues - legitimate concerns.
    "Immigrant staff" - listed as the lead-in before these "risks" in your headline - not so much.

    Help me out here. The immigrant staff referred to are skilled professionals, here legally. They have not only obtained work visas allowing them to be in our country, they have renewed them on a regular basis, suggesting a good track record for following immigration requirements. If they have done something as immigrants to merit your dismissive references to them perhaps you could enlighten me. (If I missed it in a previous story, maybe a more pertinent link to clue me in.)

    And even if they have participated (as employees of a "miscreant") in the past mismanagement of dairy operations, what does that have to do with their immigration status?

    My guess is you are trying to convey the meme that the new dairy operation seems to be a lot like the old one, down to the employees, with all the risks that portends. And I appreciate your tireless focus on environmental issues that affect our state. But let Stace Nelson, Manny Steele and Marty Jackley rouse the anti-immigrant crowd. .

    Far too many people seem incapable of comprehending that "immigrants" and "illegals" are not interchangeable terms. Especially in discussions of agribusiness.

  5. caheidelberger Post author | 2011.09.23

    Absolutely right, Barbara. But it is worth noting that in what I assume are the dairy's best paying jobs, Millner isn't creating new jobs for local experts; he's bringing in his same seemingly captive labor pool, a group that oversaw operations that crashed at another dairy.

  6. Michael Black 2011.09.23

    Cory, there are no local experts in dairy production on that big of a scale.

  7. caheidelberger Post author | 2011.09.23

    1. Dairy production of that big a scale is bad for our environment, health, and economy.

    2. The fact remains that the dairy isn't creating local jobs, which is one more reason to oppose letting it expand (as if Millner's proven track record of breaking the law and harming the environment isn't enough).

  8. Charlie Johnson 2011.09.23

    This dairy along with most other large livestock operations in this state/country are run by a piece of paper--a limited liability company. There is no personal responsibility for anything good or bad. Nor is there proper bonding to ensure that all regulations and procedures are followed. In the end what is accounted for and what has financial backing for incidents? The answer is nothing. Is that what you want for reassurance?

  9. Elisa 2011.09.23

    Since this operation is currently functioning under a previously approved conditional use permit, it can continue to operate under that permit, unless they apply to expand. At that time the request goes before the county commission and planning commission for consideration. Depending on the size of the proposed expansion the operation could also face state requirements. If commissioners are aware of this operators past issues, they can impose some pretty strong guidelines they'll have to follow.

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