New Prague Farm Owners Claim New Power Lines Threaten Milk Supply

Updated: 04/23/2014 10:53 AM
Created: 04/22/2014 6:32 PM
By: Kate Renner

The owners of hundreds of New Prague cows, say the new power lines overhead are threatening their milk supply. On Thursday they're looking for help in a Scott County court room.

"I always joked the only way you're going to get me out of this house is the undertaker or the nursing home," said David Minar, owner of Cedar Summit Farm.

Three generations of Minars have farmed this land.

"We've been building it up so we could pass it on to the kids. And have a legacy to leave them," Florence Minar said.

Now the Minars are selling, but not by choice.

"They need to buy the whole farm, that's the law, that's the Minnesota law that was passed," said David Minar.

Utility companies working on the CapX2020 power line bought just part of the farm for a power pole with 345,000 volt lines. The Miners say that jeopardizes their highly-prized organic certification. They make more than 1 million pounds of milk a year.

One of the concerns is with the drinking water. Any stray voltage from the power lines could electrify the water supply that the cows drink. The Minars believe the cows may not drink as much water and in turn wouldn't produce as much milk.

"We'd never survive if we got less (milk)," Florence Minar said.

The utility groups says the deal was fair under eminent domain.

"We feel that we have an obligation to challenge this on a reasonableness basis for the rate payers," said Dan Lesher, CapX2020 Right-of-Way Agent.

However, an attorney who specializes in property rights believes that won't stand up in court, due to the obscure state law called "Buy the Farm."

"Reasonableness does not enter the equation. I don't see how the court has any room to fudge here based on the issues I saw. They're going to have to say that "Buy the Farm" applies," said Dan Biersdorf, Biersdorf and Associates.

Power could be turned on to the power lines in question as early as this summer.

The court hearing begins Thursday in Scott County and will probably last three days.

The results could impact the milk you see at your market.

Cedar Summit Farm sells to Twin Cities area co-ops, and the milk is about $5 for a half gallon.

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