The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Local News

February 5, 2011

Comp Dairy Farm on track to expand

Owner must pay a $100,000 civil penalty

DORSET TOWNSHIP — A long struggle to increase the herd size at a Dorset Township dairy farm is one step closer to reality.

A legally binding document was signed by farm owner Jim Comp and representatives of the Ohio Department of Agriculture and the Ohio Attorney General after years of working on permitting.

“The Ohio Department of Agriculture and the attorney general’s office played football with us,” Comp said. He said the process to expand the herd has gone on for several years.

“The consent order came from the violation of a rule of having more than 700 cattle,” Comp said.

Comp said the herd-expansion process has taken years.

The consent decree states the farm must pay a $100,000 civil penalty in two installments, court records show.

Comp said he hopes to have the permit for the larger herd of up to 1,000 dairy cows in hand by the end of the month. He said the farm has invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in the improvements needed to get the permit and that, if he had it to do all over again, he probably wouldn’t.

The consent decree requires that eight monitoring wells be put in place in the manure-retention ponds and three monitoring wells at a satellite manure storage pond. Comp said the satellite pond is mandated in case a 100-year storm might cause runoff and pollute the surrounding area.

“It was very stressful and very expensive,” Comp said.

“Once the permit is in place, we hope to grow, but it may take several years,” Comp said.

He said the regulation process is difficult and was made more challenging because the state agricultural director for the past several years was county resident Robert Boggs. Comp said Boggs recused himself from making the final decision on the permit because of their friendship, which further complicated the process.

At the same time, Comp has been working to construct a digester to convert liquid waste to methane, which in turn would drive an electrical generator. The power then would be sold to the electrical grid. It was announced in December that Comp Dairy Energy LLC would receive $1 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds. Comp said the farm is a small investor in the project, which goes hand in hand with the farm’s expansion.

The project is not final at this point, Comp said.

“At the present (time), we are still in negotiations with Quasar Energy. We hope by the end of the year we will have a digester,” he said of the $10 million project convert waste materials into electricity, heat, fuel and other bioproducts using anaerobic digesters.

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