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Minnesota Shrimpers Take Welfare, Skip Work Requirement

Do you think welfare should include work requirements? Then go talk to Tru Shrimp. The Balaton, Minnesota, company got $2.6 million in government assistance and had another $3 million to $5 million coming:

The board of the Balaton, Minn.-based firm in November gave final approval for the $45 million facility on 67 acres just outside Luverne. The state of Minnesota had invested nearly $2 million to build roads and utilities to the site and Luverne, a city of about 5,000 residents, invested $600,000 in the effort.

…By abandoning Luverne, Tru Shrimp leaves on the table between $3 million and $5 million in production credit from the state of Minnesota [Kristen Leigh Palmer, “Tru Shrimp’s Decision to Build ‘Harbor’ in South Dakota Surprises Luverne, State Officials,” Minneapolis Star Tribune, 2019.01.08].

But after publicly promising (as recently as November) to return the favor by working for Minnesota, Tru Shrimp isn’t doing any work for Luverne. Even Minnesota’s environmental rules for specific conductance, which Minnesota’s Pollution Control Agency tried to make clear to Tru Shrimp all along, are too much to ask a recipient of millions in corporate welfare to follow. Tru Shrimp is bringing its snack-filled brine vats to Madison, South Dakota, where it will face even fewer environmental requirements and receive even more welfare and tax breaks:

Daugaard counted it as a win for his administration and his economic development office, which kicked in money for a $6.5 million low-interest loan to help attract Tru Shrimp to Madison, along with the potential for 120 jobs and tens of millions of dollars of economic impact [Patrick Anderson, “How South Dakota Won Over Tru Shrimp in Spite of Minnesota Plans,” that Sioux Falls paper, 2019.01.04].

[CEO Michael Ziebell] said the company was attracted to Madison because of the people, but the Opportunity Zone designation was also a key factor. That designation by the U.S. Department of Treasury, which was announced by the GOED last fall, enables investors to reinvest capital gains in local projects without paying taxes on that income for 10 years [Mary Gales Askren, “Tru Shrimp to Build in Madison; $30 Million Impact Expected,” Madison Daily leader, 2019.01.04].

Tru Shrimp will also slurp up up to 300,000 gallons of water a day from the million gallons of additional agua Madison currently pulls circuitously from the Lewis and Clark Regional Water System, another great example of how business doesn’t happen without government—i.e., all of us—spending lots of money on big projects.

Keep an eye out for Tru Shrimp lobbyists in Pierre: when they wanted to build in Luverne, Tru Shrimpers asked the Minnesota Legislature to subsidize shrimp production to the tune of up to $5 million a year for five years. Minnesota nixed that plan, but who knows what other handouts they’ll be able to persuade South Dakota’s eager-to-please regime to pass… and all without any work requirement.


  1. Nick Nemec 2019-01-09 07:25

    They abandoned Minnesota because of Minnesota’s rules on specific conductance? They want to release brine into surface waters? Lovely. Keep an eye on Lake Madison.

  2. John 2019-01-09 07:39

    If they ran government like a business:
    -why wouldn’t Minnesota sue the shrimpers into oblivion?
    (Seriously, who writes these contracts, drunk Santa?)

  3. leslie 2019-01-09 09:13

    Good story Cory. SD Missouri River water, rural water system, interstate export of water to Minnesota (like Janklow export of same water to coal slurry in Wyo), late night Daugaard/Noem kidnapping of shrimp, infamous fraud-free GOED (EB5), taxpayer money to entice jobs. Tsitrian provides soapbox for lawyer who wants to be a water buffalo (Jangling). Noem enables (addiction medical science term of art) Trump who just cut emergency disaster funding to Paradise CA because fire was in CA and Smokey Bear failed and Trump is an adrenaline/chaos junkie

    KOCH Industries SD office quietly funding, benefiting Alberta dilbit while seas are rising, East Antarctic Ice Sheet (dah beeg one) melting. 12 more years. Tipping Points. Chas or David Koch claiming credit for Trump OK of Dakota Access and KXL (250 miles from Montana to Tripp County/NE stateline this spring).

  4. Daniel Buresh 2019-01-09 09:18

    They are still planning on building a facility in Luverne. They expect that to start happening within 3 years. They didn’t want to delay any further so that is why they chose Madison as the next best site for their first “harbor”. I believe it to be pretty common for a company such as this to work with multiple sites in the event of issues that are not foreseen or taken care of in a timely fashion. In regards to the water, Madison currently pays for an allotment of water from Lewis and Clark which is not being used. Even if they were to sell the water for below cost, it would still save taxpayers money because that water is getting paid for whether it is used or not. That surplus of water could dwindle in the future as growth in the area continues which is why we should be saving those funds to prepare for the need for more water when that time comes. In regards to pollution, it sounds like they are going to have a pretty extensive water engineering facility to insure they comply with environmental standards. Aquaculture in a controlled environment won’t require the level of hormones and antibiotics that you will see in open air ponds so that will help with a lot of the pollution issues that they have seen elsewhere. Either way, I think you will see a lot of people watching to insure this does not affect the water quality of the lakes as they are already very poor due to high nitrate and phosphorus levels from commercial and residential runoff. I believe this is good growth for the community and as long as everyone does their job, we should be able to have a state-of-the-art facility with good paying jobs while maintaining a reasonable level of risk to house the new industry.

  5. jerry 2019-01-09 09:23

    leslie is correct on the ETSI coal slurry pipeline. Janklow put that into play with a complacent legislature with their hands out. The vast moving of South Dakota water is going to be coming back again and again. Madison was really not the first, this has always been a republican dream of giving up our water rights. Look for more corruption like the EB5 to be involved more sooner than later. Water is more valuable than oil so don’t forget that.

    Here is Nestle chairman of the board, which is the largest producer of potable water in the world.
    ““Water is, of course, the most important raw material we have today in the world. It’s a question of whether we should privatize the normal water supply for the population. And there are two different opinions on the matter. The one opinion, which I think is extreme, is represented by the NGOs, who bang on about declaring water a public right. That means that as a human being you should have a right to water. That’s an extreme solution. The other view says that water is a foodstuff like any other, and like any other foodstuff it should have a market value. Personally, I believe it’s better to give a foodstuff a value so that we’re all aware it has its price, and then that one should take specific measures for the part of the population that has no access to this water, and there are many different possibilities there.””

    So there ya go Madison and South Dakota, you done screwed yourself with Denny providing the lubricant. Denny probably will get to sit on the board of directors for this scam.

  6. Dave 2019-01-09 12:07

    so yet another company gets run out of MN because of environmental standards and SD welcomes them with open arms…. don’t worry about lake Madison… they will just run a pipe to the BSR… and don’s expect the water development districts to complain this time as they will be buying the water from them…. perhaps the extra salt in the river will help kill the eColi?

  7. HydroGuy 2019-01-09 12:39

    Re: Daniel Buresh @ 0918

    “Either way, I think you will see a lot of people watching to insure this does not affect the water quality of the lakes as they are already very poor due to high nitrate and phosphorus levels from commercial and residential runoff.”

    You should reassess your assertion regarding the sources of nitrogen and phosphorus to area lakes.

    Page 4 — “There are no point sources of pollutants of concern in this watershed.” “The 7,611 kg in total phosphorus loadings to Lake Herman are from agricultural sources.”

    Page 8 — “The nutrients considered include nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P), both are essential algal nutrients and major contributors to the trophic status (TSI) problems documented for Lake Herman, especially phosphorus (Wittmuss, 1994).”

    Page i — “The amount of phosphorus contributed by the city of Madison to Silver Creek constituted 13% of the total load delivered to Lake Madison in 1995”.

    Page ii — “An estimate of the contribution of lawn fertilizers…indicated that this source contributed approximately 0.77% of the overall total phosphorus loadings to Lake Madison.” “Lake Madison is serviced by a centralized sewer system…” “The suspected source of this sediment were relatively steep agricultural lands with slopes ranging from 7-18% that were being cropped or had poor vegetative cover.” “Compared to other watersheds within eastern South Dakota, the density of potentially critical [animal] feeding areas found within the Madison/Brant watershed was high…”

    Page 114 — “The suspected source of the elevated nutrient levels found within the Madison/Brandt watershed is probably from animal feeding operations and the application of fertilizers on cropland and on highly erodible soils and slopes.”

  8. Rorschach 2019-01-09 13:15

    The state of Minnesota invested nearly $2 million building roads and utilities, and city of Luverne invested $600,000 before this company pulled the rug out from under them without any forewarning. Why should Minnesota or Luverne believe the company when it says it may still build there in a few years? The company’s word is squat. A vague promise from an unscrupulous business should not deter anyplace from standing up for its taxpayer. I hope Minnesota has a contract and sues the company for any breach of contract. Time will tell whether Tru Shrimp screws SD taxpayers like it screwed Minnesota taxpayers. Seems to me that doing business with them is like doing business with Trump.

  9. Daniel Buresh 2019-01-09 13:18

    I considered AG as being a part of Commercial runoff. I probably should have been more specific with my post and been more specific in regards to what commerical industry I was speaking about.

  10. Rorschach 2019-01-09 13:18

    The state of Minnesota invested nearly $2 million building roads and utilities, and city of Luverne invested $600,000 before this company pulled the rug out from under them without any forewarning. Why should Minnesota or Luverne believe the company when it says it may still build there in a few years? The company’s word is squat. A vague promise from an unscrupulous business should not deter anyplace from standing up for its taxpayer. I hope Minnesota has a contract and sues the company for any breach of contract. Time will tell whether Tru Shrimp skrews SD taxpayers like it strewed Minnesota taxpayers. Seems to me that doing business with them is like doing business with Trump.

  11. jerry 2019-01-09 13:30

    Tru Shrimp equals trump, good call. Almost the same letters.

  12. Debbo 2019-01-09 16:15

    I haven’t heard if Luverne or Minnesota plans any legal action.

  13. Porter Lansing 2019-01-09 18:05

    I was a chef in a seafood restaurant for years. All our shrimp came in 25 pound, frozen blocks from shrimp farms in Vietnam or Thailand. Quality was very good because there was competition between several purveyors. Price fluctuated, as does the price of all seafood. We thawed 8-10 blocks a day of two different sizes. Shrimp are sold by size and weight. We sold U-12’s for shrimp cocktails and scampi. (U-12 means twelve or under per pound). Six U-12’s is a nice portion (half pound, tails on). We sold U-30’s in pasta sauces and soups.
    This shrimp aquaculture experimentation facility is a great thing for Madison. Wonderful thing, really.
    They use a re-circulating water system in large vats, so the water is used over and over. The indoor, low-water systems use approximately 20 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of shrimp, compared to about 250 gallons of water needed to yield 1 pound of pond-raised shrimp.
    They are still tweaking the microbial bacteria levels that clean the water, and how much of it (shrimp poop) they can take out while still keeping a healthy environment for shrimp. Production costs go down as the overall survival of the animal goes up. They are using a domesticated shrimp [Pacific white], which is the variety used the most around the world.
    The economics have prevented this industry from developing in the U.S. We have a USD 4 billion annual trade deficit in shrimp — we import between 85 and 90 percent. People in the U.S. are worried about contaminants from the Gulf oil spill in their seafood (Gulf red shrimp are prized and rarely get beyond the gulf coast restaurants) — but no contaminated domestic seafood has been found. Most of the shrimp we eat are coming from outside the U.S. and are inspected at a very modest level. With the Southeast Asia shrimp disease problems a couple of years ago, there was a lot of interest in domestic shrimp production. Producers (like the one coming to Madison) have now managed most of their production problems, but wholesale prices are still not high enough for indoor shrimp farming to look attractive at this point. China’s demand for shrimp has increased to a point that Vietnamese and Thai shrimp are being sold more and more to China, making USA wholesale prices escalate to a point these domestic indoor shrimp farms look better and better economically.

  14. grudznick 2019-01-09 18:45

    grudznick loves a good Shrimp’n’gravy dish. Mmmm. Shrimp’n’gravy. I don’t care if it comes from Luverne or Madison, assuming it is not grown in the brackish waters of Lake Madison

  15. Porter Lansing 2019-01-09 18:51

    I love shrimp ‘n grits. The Lansing’s (except me) have been from Central Florida since the Civil War. Proper grits (not instant grits) are pretty foreign in SD and aren’t moving up the popularity scale.

  16. Rorschach 2019-01-09 19:09

    I learned something today. Very interesting. Thanks Porter.

  17. Porter Lansing 2019-01-09 19:31

    Welcome, Ror. I know shrimp but I don’t know Madison water. Mr. Buresh and HydroGuy taught me some things today. Thanks, Daniel and HG. And Ror taught us the history of TruShrimp in a small MN town. They need to be watched closely, Madison. They do seem to have a lot of Trump Business ethics and that ain’t good.

  18. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-01-09 21:04

    Nick, that’s what I first thought (and darn glad they’re building it down-watershed from Lake Herman! won’t kill off all those carp and bullhead!). But I’m not sure: is “specific conductance” really a measure of saltiness that can harm freshwater fish, or is it a different environmental factor?

  19. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-01-09 21:12

    That’s interesting, Porter. Less disease, less overseas transport… do factory shrimp turn out to reduce fossil fuel usage and combat climate change? Does it take less water to produce shrimp than it does to produce beef in our CAFOs? Can we help the planet by swapping out beef and bacon for shrimpburgers?

  20. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-01-09 21:22

    Dan, I dig that Tru Shrimp says they still plan to build something in Luverne three years down the road. But let’s go back to my original comparison to welfare work requirements: if the state gives poor people a check, it wants those poor people to work right now. Or an untapped comparison: when the state gives vo-tech students a free ride, it expects them to turn around and work in South Dakota right away; if the graduates move away, they don’t get to say, “Oh, don’t worry, I’ll come back and work in Mitchell in a few years”; the state converts their scholarship to a loan, piles on interest, and sends out the collection notices.

    Promising that you’ll come back and do some work for the state three years from now seems a little thing… especially when the promise made to get the money in the first place turned out not to be worth much.

  21. Porter Lansing 2019-01-09 21:22

    Good questions to ponder, Cory. CAFO’s are history. The “New Big Idea” is lab grown beef from stem cells. Get on it Governor. It doesn’t all have to happen in CA and TX and FL. Now, what to do with all that pasture land?

  22. Porter Lansing 2019-01-09 21:37

    And … one of my best friends brother owns Foley’s in downtown Madville. I’m sure he’s pleased with new jobs and new money in town.

  23. Roger Cornelius 2019-01-09 22:10

    “Exactly what is a grit”?

  24. Porter Lansing 2019-01-09 22:24

    Roger It’s like cornmeal mush but made with hominy, which is corn kernels soaked in lime to remove the hulls. Southerners eat it at breakfast instead of hash browns.

  25. mike from iowa 2019-01-10 07:00

    Yer saying it takes you five minutes to cook yer grits, when it takes the rest of the grit eating world 20 minutes? Are these magic grits?

  26. Roger Cornelius 2019-01-10 10:34

    Now you got it, mike from iowa.

  27. Daniel Buresh 2019-01-10 11:57

    “Well perhaps the laws of physics cease to exist on your stove! Were these magic grits? I mean, did you buy them from the same guy who sold Jack his beanstalk beans?!”

    One of my favorite movies of all time…but back to the topic.

    Cory, I understand where you are coming from in regards to the incentives to move here. Unfortunately, these sorts of things have become common practice to lure business to states. How far you are willing to go can determine the level of success or amount of risk you are willing to let fail, depending on the outcome. Whether you or I agree with how that is done, that is simply the business environment they are forced to compete in today. In regards to what they were offered, I find it to be a worthy investment based on the numbers provided. Since they are a MN business and they have expressed a huge interest in the midwest, I truly do believe Luverne will eventually get their facility. I also expect SD to get a couple more if everything goes well. Aquaculture is only going to get bigger. It is a much better alternative to the current method of over-fishing and uncontrolled open air ponds where some reside in countries with very little monitoring. As long as it is done in an environmentally friendly way while insuring sustainability, I think it is something we must support even if it costs a little bit more at the store while they learn how to bring down production costs with more research. This is about as “Green” as it currently can get for shrimp production. My biggest concern for this project is the increased traffic on Hwy 34 which is a public safety issue, along with the possibility of having to deal with water infrastructure sooner rather than later. Any increased revenue through local taxes should be earmarked to insure the taxpayers are not forced to pay for upgrades or increased prices due to the usage of our water by corp entities. If we expect to have to perform upgrades in 30 years, and that is altered to 15, then there better be some planning for that.

    Also, what sort of incentive does this create for SD to look for a packaging facility? With the new cold air storage that is already expanding in Sioux Falls, is there a possible partnership in the future? I think this is only going to open more doors down the road to some supporting businesses.

  28. Porter Lansing 2019-01-10 12:25

    Eggs and grits? I like grits, too. How do you cook your grits? Regular, creamy or al dente’?

  29. mike from iowa 2019-01-10 13:17

    How do you cook grits? Who cares when you have Marisa Tomeii’s legs and that accent to distract mfi.

  30. happy camper 2019-01-10 16:01

    This video below from Al Jazeera said foreign shrimp have dangerous levels of antibiotics and other things they are not tested nearly enough it goes on to show a safe farming operation in the U.S. that is profitable they keep reusing the same water she said it makes it even better. What will this operation do with the water someone said it will affect surface waters?

  31. jerry 2019-01-10 16:10

    Tested enough? Hell, they aren’t even open now. We’re on our own as far as food safety now goes and have been for almost 3 weeks due to the trump shutdown.

  32. mike from iowa 2019-01-10 16:44

    I believe veggie growers use the same water and that is where they get diseases from, if memory serves.

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