Super-Sized Livestock Facility
Bion Environmental Technologies, Inc., (www.biontech.com) took a giant leap forward recently when it received a green light from the Schroeppel town board, located in New York's Oswego County, to develop a large-scale integrated beef cattle project.
"I look forward to working with Bion. It's an exciting project for central New York, and we're happy to welcome Bion to Schroeppel," says Paul Casler, the town's supervisor.
Once Bion's 72,000-head integrated and closed-loop beef cattle project is complete, it will be the largest individual cattle livestock facility east of the Mississippi River. It will be a worldwide model for environmental sustainability. Implementation of Bion's patented waste-treatment technology will result in the project's finishing facilities exhibiting the smallest per-head environmental footprint of any large livestock operation in the world.
The closed-loop architecture of the project is intended to produce corn-based ethanol for use in future cellulosic ethanol plants. Bion's technology will produce renewable energy from livestock waste at a significantly greater per-head rate than energy generated through anaerobic digestors currently used in the livestock industry.
The company says the project will also create a long-term regional market for farm crops that will return approximately 25,000 acres of underutilized or previously abandoned farmland to full production in the area. Its low environmental footprint will enable this facility to coexist within 300 miles of markets with 50 million people, creating the opportunity for local branding.
On top of that, the venture is estimated to add approximately 600 jobs in Oswego County.
The company's hope is that the project's scale will be the basis for environmental as well as economic sustainability rather than being a source of environmental concern.
"Bion's unique technology and expertise are what make this project viable and will result in upstate New York becoming the world leader in environmentally sustainable livestock production," says Jeff Kapell, Bion's vice president, project development/renewables.
In a time of such economy uncertainty, a project that has the potential to add jobs and open up a new market for the county's hay and corn farmers seems like a win-win for everyone involved. However, the town of Schroeppel wasn't Bion's first choice. The company originally approached St. Lawrence County, but it was rejected there.
Do the cons outweigh the pros in this project? "On the issues of pros and cons for a large livestock facility, you will always have people on both sides," says John Lawrence, Iowa Beef Center director. "We have seen a lot of it in hog facilities in the Midwest. There are clear winners in the form of employees and farmers who sell to the facility and have a new market or competing bid for their feedstuffs. Some main street businesses will see increased sales to the facility or where employees shop will benefit. Schools will have more students if more people stay in the region."