Large dairy farm planned for Saratoga

Large dairy farm planned for Saratoga

As appeared in the Marshfield News Herald, June 6, 2012 -|topnews|text|FRONTPAGE

SARATOGA -- Developers hope to build a large dairy operation in south Wood County that they say will add 25 local jobs.

On Wednesday, Jim Wysocki, chief financial officer of Wysocki Produce Farms in Portage County, began the process of applying for the permits needed for a 3,500-cow farm in Saratoga. He also contacted town, county and state officials to notify them of the company's plan for the dairy and produce operation. Wysocki then contacted Gannett Central Wisconsin Media to get the word out to the public.

"We don't want people to get frustrated," Wysocki said. "We want to be as open as we can be to the public."

Wysocki has an agreement to purchase the necessary property from Plum Creek Timberlands. The proposal is for the dairy to include property from the Wood-Portage County line west past Highway 13 and the Wood-Adams County line north about two miles. Most of the farm will be along Highways 73 and 13, Wysocki said.

The farm will include 6,000 acres of irrigated land, Wysocki said. The operations will be what Wysocki refers to as "farming full circle." Employees will grow the crops to feed the dairy herd and then use the manure from the cows to fertilize the crops.

"It's sustainable, good for the environment, creates good jobs and makes a good product," Wysocki said.

Workers will rotate the crops and stagger the plantings in such a way as to reduce wind erosion, Wysocki said.

The farm will produce its own electricity by burning methane, and company officials hope to sell excess electricity -- enough for 1,400 households -- to a power company, said Jacquie Wille, Wysocki's sister.

For the first 28 days, the manure is held in a sealed structure, capturing the methane. After the 28 days, the liquid and solids are separated and the solids used for soil in the fields, Wysocki said. By that time, there is limited odor. Company leaders planned the proposed dairy location so that there are very few homes located within a mile of the dairy operations, he said.

For comparison, the Richfield Dairy in Adams County is expected to have about 4,300 cows when it opens in late 2012 or early 2013. Officials for Milk Source of Kaukauna, which is building the Richfield Dairy, have started the permitting process to double the number of cows at the New Chester Dairy, which started operations in March. The dairy currently has a capacity of 4,300 cows.

The proposed Saratoga dairy will use high-capacity wells and will require high-capacity well permits, as well as a concentrated animal feeder operation permit from the state Department of Natural Resources, Wysocki said. The permitting process will require public hearings, and Wysocki plans to attend municipal and county meetings as well in order to answer any questions residents and officials might have.

Wysocki currently owns Central Sands Dairy, which is south of Nekoosa. The new dairy will be called Golden Sands Dairy, he said. The company's Portage County produce farm, the Central Sands Dairy and the proposed Golden Sands Dairy would be located within a matter of miles of each other, improving the efficiency of all the operations, Wysocki said. His current employees already live in the Wisconsin Rapids area, and the new dairy will purchase much of its required materials locally.

Wysocki plans to begin work on the land this year and anticipates it will take about 2.5 years before the farm can start producing milk.