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Central Minnesota Community Dairy Partnership

The location and operation of animal production facilities in the rural landscapes is an issue of significant environmental concern in states having economic bases that include livestock production.

The Central Minnesota Community Dairy Partnership was established to create regional design strategies for including animal agriculture in the rural landscape in a manner that protects the ecological integrity of the landscape, sustains a viable income and life-style for participants in the agriculture industry and contributes to the community at large.

The Partnership includes members of the dairy industry, environmental interest groups, and local units of government in a six county region in central Minnesota. The region's physio-graphy includes a series of ancient river terraces along the Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers, and upland conditions include outwash channels cutting through a matrix of moraine landscapes. Lakes and wetland complexes cover the kettle and knob upland landscape. In 1996, the six counties accounted collectively for 20% of dairy production in a state ranked fifth in the nation in total diary production and second in cheese production.

A geographic information system (GIS) framework served as a basis whereby the Partnership differentiated landscapes warranting special protection status from those landscapes suitable for expansion of dairy industry production. The GIS was also used to define the agricultural activities that would be appropriate for landscapes within the environmental protection framework as well as those activities appropriate for areas included within the production landscape.

Establishing the environmental protection framework focused on spatial modeling of habitat quality and diversity for guilds of species using remnant landscape systems located within the region; and, susceptibility of landscape conditions to contamination of surface and ground water as a result of animal agriculture. The selection of species for inclusion in the analysis was based on habitat suitability indices identified in the literature as well as on the expert opinion of locally based resource management professionals. Habitat models were created for obligate inhabitants of forest interior conditions, wetland species as well as upland grassland species. Care was taken in choosing model species to balance between the inclusion of species that reflect existing remnant landscape conditions and the inclusion of species that are sensitive to habitat quality changes associated with animal production systems in the landscape. Water quality contamination susceptibility was modeled based on the sensitivity of the area's geologic, soil, and hydrographic conditions to water quality degradation likely to emanate from animal agriculture systems.

Check out the report

Making Room for Sustainable Animal Agriculture in the Rural Landscape: The Central Minnesota Community Dairy Partnership