New excavator purchased for transfer station

By Robert Williams


Twin Spruce Farm North owner Arnold Gruenes spoke to the Otter Tail Board of County Commissioners Tuesday, May 14, stating his farm meets the requirements to house additional livestock and is hopeful a permit allowing the expansion will be approved by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.

The proposal was discussed during a public hearing for the MPCA regarding a 250-cow expansion at a feedlot five miles north of Perham.

Gruenes, who also owns Twin Spruce Farm in Stearns County, purchased the Perham area feedlot in 2019 and made facility improvements the following year, including added manure storage capacity for 14 months. The MPCA requires a 9-month storage capacity.

“We have chosen to re-permit to add about 250 cows,” said Gruenes. “We feel we can overstock the cows a little bit and see how the cows handle it, and they’ll tell us.”

Gruenes also noted existing structures and facilities are adequate to handle the expansion.

Twin Spruce Farm North currently has 1,390 head of dairy cattle.

Multiple commissioners made positive statements regarding the farm, including Commissioner Dan Bucholz, who has visited the property.

“The place is very well run,” he said. “Very clean, and I know what a cow looks like, and there were no sick cows or nothing like that. They were very well kept, so I would definitely give my stamp of approval for this to move forward.”

The board has no decision-making responsibilities in regards to the permitting process, but was holding the public hearing on behalf of the MPCA.

New excavator for transfer station

The board approved the purchase of a 2022 Caterpillar wheeled excavator at the cost of $368,000. The purchase is $158,000 more than was budgeted in 2023 but took on the cost with the availability of the excavator being weeks, rather than a typical lead time of 18-months to two years to purchase heavy equipment.

The excavator will be used to load trucks at the county transfer station and replaces the current purchased in 2006 for $155,000 with just under 10,000 hours of service.

The current excavator is slated to be used at the new transfer station in Henning. An older backhoe at the Pelican Transfer Station will be sold to defer an estimated $35,000 from the new purchase.