Dundy County Board Approves What Would Be Nebraska's Largest Feedlot
By Aaron Bonderson , Report for America Reporter/Producer Nebraska Public Media
June 6, 2022, 6:04 p.m. ·
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The state’s largest feedlot was approved Monday under a conditional-use permit by the Dundy County Board of Commissioners.
A flurry of public comments, documents and questions came to light during the 5-hour meeting.
The board voted 3-0 in favor of allowing a company, called Blackshirt Feeders, to open a 100,000 cattle feedlot – provided the Canadian company adheres to the board's conditions.
Dundy County borders both Colorado and Kansas in southwest Nebraska.
Blackshirt Feeders said 85 jobs are expected to be created in the 1,913 person county. Also, they project 10 million bushels of corn will be purchased locally and used for the feedlot each year.
Approval comes despite opposition during public comment from local residents. Concerns ranged from whether there's enough groundwater to maintain the facility, the feedlot's waste and its effect on groundwater quality, local traffic and road conditions, methane emissions and other health and environmental factors.
Concerns about the cleanliness of the surrounding groundwater were raised over the past few months. Dr. Eric Behlke, the manager of Blackshirt Feeders, said the new facility can help prevent groundwater contamination by using a concrete floor in the lot.
“We talk about groundwater protection," Behlke said. "The first thing we look at is how we drain our water and make sure it doesn't stand in places. It's not supposed to. [With] the concrete service pan, we can solve that problem pretty easy.”
The concrete floor can solve issues with flies and dust as well, according to Blackshirt Feeders.
Dundy County landowner Deb Frazier said at Monday's meeting that she and other ranchers don't want the new massive feedlot to push out those already living in the area.
"We definitely do not want to lose the freedom to feed 500-4,000 head (of cattle) or even up to 20,000 head," Frazier said.
Blackshirt Feeders expects to begin construction in six months. The board of commissioners will survey to make sure they follow the conditional use permit. State agencies and the local natural resources district will also perform multiple checks.