Livestock Grant for MN farm updates

Livestock grant opportunities that came across my desk today for farmers in Minnesota…

“Minnesota livestock farmers and ranchers seeking to improve their livestock operations are encouraged to apply for the Agricultural Growth, Research and Innovation (AGRI) Livestock Investment Grant program. The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) anticipates awarding up to $768,000 using a competitive review process.

Applicants may apply for up to 10 percent of their project’s total cost. Grant awards can range in size from $400 to $25,000. Each livestock operation is eligible to receive a lifetime maximum of $50,000 from this livestock grant program. To be eligible for reimbursement by this grant, you must be invoiced and pay for all project materials and services between Jan. 1, 2020 and June 30, 2021.

Proposals are due no later than 4 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 18. We encourage you to use our online application. If you cannot apply online, you can fill out the application at the end of the Request for Proposals, which can be found on the AGRI Livestock Investment website.”

Are you ready to start your MN dairy farm improvement? Contact Ronnie at Williams Engineering and get it started!

New Funding Options

We all have those projects that get put off for another day but maybe this is one of those programs that could help your dairy farm bring in the extra cash to get it started?

Could this be the “cost share funding” you’ve been waiting for that could help start the planning and design process for your new barn, manure storage, or separation facility? 

We’d love to help you realize your vision for your farm utilizing this or any other funding option – just give us a call! 

Asbestos, The 411

In the Know

Asbestos became popular between 1900-1970. The large draw of asbestos was in sound absorption, strength, and its resistance to fire and heat. Asbestos manufacturing has been phased out, banned, or overly restricted since the 1990s.

Common Locations

Homes dating back before 1980 were built with products which may contain asbestos. These products include floor tile, ceiling tiles, roof shingles and flashing, exterior siding, and insulation (around boilers, pipes, and duct work).

In farm buildings it is in joint compound and caulking. With any remodel it may be best to test for asbestos.

Health Effects

The length of exposure to asbestos is the most concerning factor. When inhaled, asbestos’s glass like fibers scratch the interior of your lungs causing scarring and stiffening. One or two exposures yield no worry, but it is exposure from 10-40 years that leads to lung cancer and mesothelioma.

Testing and Abatement

Most general contractors will not get involved for liability reasons if asbestos is a potential threat. When you need testing and removal of asbestos, it may require more than 1 contractor. It is a must to see all records and documentations of the asbestos levels in your house.

Check to be sure any professional you hire meets any licensing requirements for your state or municipality.

Asbestos abatement (removal) has an extensive set up procedure. The first step in the removal is fully sealing off the room with multiple layers of plastic. Then workers have to walk through a wash off station upon entering and exiting the sealed area. Respirators are required. All materials are wetted down to control dust and particle movement.

Cost of abatement can vary depending on the scope of the work.

Questions? Contact Ronnie at Williams Engineering to ask your asbestos questions!

~ Jordan Crusing, Junior Technician

On-Farm Innovation

I love the innovation of farmers!  We all know that farmers are hard workers, but the ingenuity and invention to solve any problem is really amazing to see in person.  If you ever been to the machine shed on the farm, you’ll see that every bit and piece has value and purpose.  A good farmer lets nothing go to waste and every task they do is calculated and efficient – there is a lot to do on the farm every day and being a great farm manager is essential. It’s easy to picture innovation in the machine shed with the repairs made to keep equipment running.

portion of what use to be my grandparent’s dairy farm, machine shed in top left corner

On the other side of the coin though, is the business side where the farmer is just as innovative.  Becoming dealers for seeds (or other products), pooling resources together with neighbors to ensure that everyone has access to equipment or services at a fair price, or even working to create a new market for their product when needed. 

I even appreciate seeing opportunities, like the “Making More From Milk” event and new on-farm technologies, that provide support and encouragement to farmers who are developing and maintaining healthy agricultural businesses, which also preserve the ability to continue in the tradition of on-farm innovation.

~ Kelly Jacobs, Senior Environmental Scientist

Are You Ready for your Next Farm Inspection?

On-site farm inspections by agencies like the County, DNR, MPCA or EPA can happen at any time, especially close to your permit renewal date. A little preparation can help that surprise inspection at your farm go much smoother.

This article from Manure Manager Magazine gives some good recommendations: on questions to ask your inspector, information that may (or may not) be available to them, and some other points to help you before, during, and after any inspection.

Even if you’ve never worked with Williams Engineering Services or we’ve never visited your farm before, Williams Engineering Services can help your facility work through inspection and compliance at any stage in the process. It’s a small world and you might be amazed by what we already know about your farm.

We do recommend having an engineering consultant on-site during the farm’s on-site compliance inspection, whenever possible, in order to:

  1. Demonstrate your ability to provide both an immediate and follow-up response to items presented by the inspector,
  2. Illustrate your commitment to the quality of your farm and how it is presented, and
  3. Show that you take the inspection of your farm very seriously.

Having an experienced consultant on-site during the inspection can help you better react to inspector questions and address concerns before they become a written violation. Having an engineer at your side can also keep the inspector accountable so that the discussed topics and issues are limited to only those items that are relevant and enforceable. The last thing a farmer wants are inspection notes with incorrect information (or even false allegations about the farm) written into a violation letter that becomes public information.

Our professional staff at Williams Engineering Services have experience being  inspectors. We have reviewed hundreds of facilities in Minnesota and Wisconsin, and are familiar with the current rules and regulations. We have years of experience working with and being those government officials at all levels and can help you better understand how to navigate governmental policies.

At Williams Engineering Services, we will do our best to work with you at any time day or night, including inspection time, on the farm. Give us a call today at 715-829-3231 and we’d be happy to help you start preparing for your next inspection (or reacting to the letter if that is where you are).

~ Kelly Jacobs, Senior Environmental Scientist