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Family opens feedlot near Pukwana

PUKWANA -- To Tim and Karla Pazour, farming is about making a living. But it's also about family. The Pazours recently hosted 600 visitors to their new, million-dollar, family owned feedlot about nine miles south of Pukwana. At capacity, the feed...

PUKWANA -- To Tim and Karla Pazour, farming is about making a living. But it's also about family.

The Pazours recently hosted 600 visitors to their new, million-dollar, family owned feedlot about nine miles south of Pukwana. At capacity, the feedlot will handle 5,000 head of cattle, and will hopefully ensure a future for the Pazour's two sons. Pazour's brother and his family also will be involved in the operation.

"We're just giving our kids the opportunity to stay in Brule County and South Dakota and make a living," Tim Pazour said.

The recent open house and ribbon-cutting for the feedlot included a visit from South Dakota Secretary of Agriculture Larry Gabriel. The event was promoted by Agriculture United for South Dakota as a way of recognizing family farming and the sizable investments farmers make in their communities.

"The opening of a million-dollar business on the Main Street of any town would be significant," said Steve Dick, executive Director of Ag United.

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Ag United board member Neal Ruhd, in a written statement, said the Pazour operation "is the perfect example of the opportunities South Dakota families have in livestock production." He said farming families are increasingly turning to livestock feeding as a way to grow their businesses.

Developing the feedlot was a long-term project, said Tim Pazour.

"It took four years to get all the paperwork and permits through (Brule) county and the state," Pazour said.

All the runoff from the feedlot is contained, Pazour said. Runoff either evaporates or ends up in a waste lagoon, and the contents of the lagoon can be pumped and used as fertilizer.

"But there's no runoff into public waters," Pazour said.

A notification by the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources was the catalyst for the new feedlot.

"The state visited me five years ago and told me if I was going to feed cattle in my present location, I had to control my runoff," Pazour said.

Pazour said engineers couldn't correct the runoff problems at his old location, and he was forced to find more suitable land farther north. The old location would have required pump stations to control runoff, he said, whereas the new location is gravity-fed.

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The new feedlot also complies with county setback rules, Pazour said. Those setbacks require two miles distance from a municipality and one mile from a residence. Manure management systems must be at least 660 feet from a property line.

Pazour said about a month's worth of labor must still be completed before the new feedlot is ready for cattle.

"The drought has fouled things up," he said, noting that silage must be cut before cattle can be moved into the new feedlot. "Conditions aren't very good out here."

Pazour is hopeful some corn may still be salvaged from this year's crop. On the other hand, beef demand is "as good as it's been in quite a while," he said. Farmers and ranchers are working to hold on to their best stock, and selling less valuable stock, Pazour said.

While his permit allows 5,000 head of cattle, said Pazour, it may be several years before his operation reaches that limit. The Pazours currently have a 500 head cow-calf operation and raise corn, sunflowers, wheat and alfalfa.

Pazour plans to feed his cattle distillers' grain from the Loomis Prairie Ethanol plant once it becomes operational, but he doesn't foresee ethanol plants competing with feedlots for grain. Availability of distillers' grain, a high-protein ethanol byproduct, has not been dependable in Pukwana, he said.

"(Ethanol plants are) the best thing that's happened in this country," he said, "all they do is make better feed out of the corn."

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