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Walt Bones “Disappointed” by Victory of Local Control over Shaky CAFO

Last updated on 2013.03.10

The South Dakota Secretary of Agriculture's major crop this year is sour grapes. Hundreds of Hanson County residents turn back a proposal to damage their roads and water and air with a 7000-head concentrated animal feeding operation, and Secretary Walt Bones moans that he's "disappointed":

I am disappointed with the loss of opportunity for farmers to add value to the crops they raise while saving transportation costs with higher fuel prices.... We support local control and local farmers and ranchers, and their ability to get more for everything they raise [Secretary of Agriculture Walt Bones, quoted by Chris Mueller, "'Loss of Opportunity' Lamented in Hanson County Dairy," Mitchell Daily Republic, September 14, 2012].

South Dakota Secretary of Agriculture Walt BonesRemember that Walt Bones is a big dairy man, even though he's never milked a cow himself. Secretary Bones now happily promotes the state-sponsored decimation of small dairies, a concentration of power and cow poop in fewer, often non-local hands from which he himself reaps great profit.

Local farmers in Hanson County opposed Michael Crinion's 7000-head dairy. They challenged the building and water permits. They saw their own state government in the form of Walt Bones come promote big money over their local interests (and expose his own embarrassing ignorance in the process). But they prevailed, winning the argument that Crinion's CAFO and their county government weren't playing by the rules.

For Mueller's article, Secretary Bones trots out a minion to repeat that the Ag Department will be waging a propaganda offensive to get counties to back off on those darned zoning regulations that put local health, welfare, and road budgets over the interests of his dairy chums.

Walt Bones doesn't want local control. He wants control of the locals so big dairies like his can do whatever they want for profit. Profit isn't a dirty word, but Walt Bones's version of anarcho-dairy-capitalism is.


  1. Charlie Johnson 2012.09.15

    Bottom line-we can do so much better when it comes to livestock development in SD. Yes, we need to set a goal of doubling livestock numbers but do so by increasing the number of operations by 5 fold. Diversified, smaller, spread out operations will bring vitaility and energy to our state and local communites. The problem with the dairy industry started when the dairy family was no longer doing the majority of the chores.

  2. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.09.15

    Charlie, we need to send you to Pierre to broaden Secretary Bones's perspective on agriculture.

  3. Justin 2012.09.15

    He bears a striking similarity to actor Chelcie Ross, whom people may remember as Eddie Harris, the ball doctoring, aging pitcher from Major League.

  4. larry kurtz 2012.09.15

    Dairy is agriculture? Since when?

    My guess is that promises were made to Bel Brands that embarrass the GOP establishment and it couldn't extort Stace Nelson because that would expose PP's access to the dirt.

  5. larry kurtz 2012.09.15

    Stace Nelson took down this dairy as retaliation: bet me.

  6. grudznick 2012.09.15

    Eddie Harris got googled by my granddaughter and she says he was a Jesus freak. Stace Nelson is just getting started with his retaliation. You are betted, Larry.

  7. Justin 2012.09.15

    He did have the great line, "are you saying Jesus Christ can't hit a curve ball?"

  8. grudznick 2012.09.15

    Santa Claus can hit a curve ball just as good as Jesus.

  9. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.09.15

    Larry, Stace was working with his neighbors to stop this dairy before any of the GOP monkey business started. It was his work with the dairy opponents that incurred the rage of Speaker House, the House leadership, and Walt Bones's bosses in the first place.

  10. mike 2012.09.15

    I don't support dairy like this. I'm looking out for the animals well being and for my own health. I by fresh milk from local producers.

    Here is the issue though for small communites. If you want to grow you won't always get the ideal businesses. I'm sure that 7000 head dairy would have been a big tax revenue for the local community and had positives to go with the negatives. That said it's up to that county to do what they feel is best for their economy. Maybe they will now move it to Minnehaha?

  11. Michael Black 2012.09.15

    Unless you've lived the lifestyle a dairy farm demands, then you can't even comprehend the total commitment required. Cows must be milked twice a day 365 days a year. It doesn't matter if it is Christmas, if someone is sick, has died or you want to go on vacation. The cows ALWAYS come first. On Sunday, your day of rest, we always worked 5-6 hours in the barn.

    The times of just milking 30-50 cows are gone. Regulations are much more strict and the only way to make it pay is to increase herd size. Does that mean that we need 1000 herd counts? No, but it does mean that you need enough cows to generate cash flow to allow owners to take time off and have a normal life away from milking.

  12. Justin 2012.09.15

    Nelson et al did the analysis and it was a loser. Just because something creates revenue doesn't mean it is profitable for a community.

    Especially when you have to give them money and tax abatements. Witness Keystone XL, which only benefitted our politicians' campaign funds and will always be a loser for the state.

  13. Justin 2012.09.15

    The family dairy makes for a nice story about work ethics and values but it is a dead model.

    Cows don't graze in these dairies, they spend their entire lives in concrete holding pens with milking machines connected to their teats.

  14. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.09.16

    Small family dairies might be more financially viable if the state weren't bending over backwards to help their giant factory-dairy competitors. If states will adjust their regulatory schemes to stop favoring factory dairies, more small diaries can find their way back into the marketplace. Conservatives contend that getting tougher with employers of illegal immigrants (like Rep. Stace Nelson has proposed) would restore one competitive advantage that small family dairies have over factory dairies.

    But even if I were to accept the non-viability of the small dairy model, that would not change the fundamental rightness of Hanson County residents demanding that a dairy developer follow the building permit rules and lay out a consistent, honest story on its water demands and environmental impact. Crinion didn't do that. Bones doesn't acknowledge that.

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