Civil engineer Todd Van Maanen of Yankton just received recognition from the South Dakota Pork Producers Council for all of his work in designing big factory livestock operations. (Check out this interactive map of factory farms across the country.) In an interview with the Yankton Press & Dakotan about this award and his work, Van Maanen notes that his firm, Eisenbruan and Associates, just got a big swine facility permitted in Grant County.
That would be the big pig CAFO that Rep. Kathy Tyler and other Grant County folks are worried will pollute the water and air around Milbank and Big Stone City. Another concerned citizen, Earl W. Hanson, reports that the permitting process before the Grant County Planning and Zoning Committee seemed tilted toward business interests over environmental interests... with some help from state government:
Is it the job description of the Sec. of Ag to run interference for County Planning and Zoning meetings? This much we know, 40 or 50 students from SDSU were recruited to sit in on a zoning meeting in Grant Co. on Mon., Jan. 14th. Each of these students carried a paper saying this meeting was mandatory attendance. This meeting was to decide on a permit for a 6000-sow concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO) for an out-of-state corporation. The secretary of Ag, who was the 2nd person to arrive in the courtroom seemed agitated and nervous until the students arrived. The students got there early enough to make sure they all got seats. These students took 40 or 50 seats in a room of 92 seats. They took seats that could have been used by 40 or 50 citizens and taxpayers of Grant Co. that wished to hear the meeting and voice opposition.
The crowd of Grant Co. citizens filled the hall of the 3rd floor, steps to the 3rd floor, and part of the halls of the 2nd floor. When these people learned who had the seats in the courtroom, where the meeting was held, they were very upset.
I believe this was done to keep opposition out of this meeting and to make fools of the people of Grant Co.
I always believed the Sec. of Ag. took orders from the legislature. Is it the agenda of the MAJORITY of the legislators to shove these factory livestock operations into areas where they are not wanted? Yes, those of us who live in the country agree to live by farms. These out-of-state corporate CAFO's aren't farms....they are factories. Try putting a factory in a residential area in town!
The zoning laws in Grant Co. were put into law in the 1960's before there were large CAFO's. Grant Co.'s zoning law lets these factories be built 2640 ft. from the side of a home. I also realize that the West River legislators have no idea of the zoning problems in the east 1/3 of the State. It should also be noted that the citizens cannot change zoning. In Grant Co. we used State law 11-2-28 in an attempt to bring zoning to a vote and were denied the vote by the Co. Commissioners. We took the commissioners to Circuit Court and lost, and to the Supreme Court and lost. We proved that state law 11-2-28 is a worthless law and of no use.
It is my wish that the legislators would rein in the Sec. of Ag. and make him accountable to all of South Dakota and not just a few special interest groups. Thank You. [Earl W. Hanson, letter to South Dakota legislators, 2013.01.24]
I would be curious to learn from SDSU what academic objective warranted filling a local zoning meeting with out-of-town students instead of local taxpayers and voters. I would also be interested to know why the Legislature continues to permit the Secretary of Agriculture to interfere in local zoning decisions.
I'm curious to know why Grant County doesn't update its zoning from the '60s. It's not clear to me from Mr. Hanson's comments what the actual bone of contention is that's poreventing it. He only insinuates that the County Commissioners don't want to???
wow, just wow. This is pretty "routine" all over the state, isn't it? Trying to quash the voices of those that oppose, in favor of those that stand to make mega bucks when approved for their pet projects. And more often, at the tax payers expense. It is a head shaker, that is for sure.
No Richard, they do not want to. The twps in Grant County developed a pretty good update including a graduated setback based on numbers of animals with a provision for neighbors to sign a waver if they did not mind them closer. We went through 2 lawsuits to try and force a change. The most awful thing is that there is no cap on the number of animal units on the half mile set back.
....and I can't understand why the State won't give us a provision in law to change this insane setback. But, unfortunately, not many people care until it comes close to their backyard, including legislators.
The South Dakota New Republican Party has just shown us again that there really was a reason for the RICO against the Mafia. This is who they are and this is how they do their work. Rules, they don't need no stinkin rules, they make them up as they go. I wonder how much protection money was demanded? Too bad we do not have an Elliot Ness, all we have is Marty and he is a big part of the problem. As Dana P said, this is all at taxpayer expense and so will the clean up be.
There are people in both parties who support the citizens and those of both parties who support the Cafo culture. Although GDD and his minions support them. Stacey Nelson And Tim Begalka do not.
I'm mixed on CAFO's, or I guess I'm more on the individual bases as some (in the middle of no where), with right technology and setups that are beneficial. And because I have no clue on the specifics of this outfit i'm not going to argue whether or not this place should be built. I'm more curious why the SDSU students were present at this meeting. I have had college professors require me to attend meetings, whether they were school board, conferences, legislature meetings, etc. So it could be that simple. But if its on the orders of the professor, because the Sec of Ag told the professor to do this I think there are some problems.
The courts in the state are also for the CAFOs. When Mark Barnett was Attorney General he never enforced the family farm act that was voted in by a majority of the people. Then when it was brought to the US Supreme court he let it lose and then when he ran for governor he proudly stated that he had defended it in the US supreme court. He never did a thing for it and acted like he had. Typical professional BS. Now he is a judge and if he ever hears a case on this you can bet on who will win-the CAFO.
I think that these hearings do have educational value for an AG major but in this case they could have had a camera and showed the movie in class. Would have saved a lot of students a lot of driving time.
Roger really just wondering not arguing as I know nothing about this . How did Barrent let something be turned down by the US Supreme Court? Just reading the article I too am wondering about the kids from SDSU. My hope would be as part of their class work they had to attend the meeting which would make sense. I don't see how a Sec. Of Ag. Could force that and wonder why he would. The truth would be interesting.
Joe Boo, this isn't the middle of no where, it will be built 2640 ft. from the side of an occupied home.
This is sad all around. All it would have taken was some leadership by the county commission to speak out and demand some appropriate action by their planning board. The CUP could have/should have required more protections for the citizens of Grant County including both a performance and clean-up bond. Just because a general livestock permit is issued by the DENR, does not mean the county is REQUIRED to issue a CUP. Again, it just takes some leadership by the CC.
I would like to make some clarifications about the SDSU student's presence at the zoning meeting in Milbank. These students are Animal Science majors who are taking the Swine Production class taught by Dr. Bob Thaler (who is an outstanding professor in my opinion). In past years, Dr. Thaler has had his students attend zoning meetings in Canton, Parker, and most recently in Davison County.
By having students attend these meetings, they are experiencing first hand the process of developing livestock operations in South Dakota. In class, students learn about manure management plans, building designs, and setbacks. How better to relate the class room teaching with real life situations than to attend a zoning board meeting? Not only do they learn about the livestock planning side, but they learn about the people, the emotion, and the community impact of livestock operations. (seems similar to taking a French class to France!)
A few other notes about SDSU's presence at the meeting:
Dr. Thaler had no idea that Walt Bones, the Secretary of Ag would be in attendance. There was no collaboration between SDSU and the Dept of Ag.
Dr. Thaler did make the meeting mandatory for his students.
The Grant County Zoning board was notified ahead of time that SDSU would be bringing approximately 40 students to the meeting. The zoning board member he talked to advised the class to show up early.
The SDSU students did not realize how many people were lined up in the hallway, not being able to fit in the board room. Dr. Thaler was disappointed that this happened and in no way meant for that to happen. The presence of SDSU students was for educational purposes only, and did not have an ulterior motive.
'"The courts in the state are also for the CAFOs. When Mark Barnett was Attorney General he never enforced the family farm act that was voted in by a majority of the people. Then when it was brought to the US Supreme court he let it lose and then when he ran for governor he proudly stated that he had defended it in the US supreme court."
When we were trying to buy the farm we now finally own, it was from an estate. This meant the local corrupt Judge Marvin Talbott had an opportunity to block our bid in favor of reopening so his buddy Don Johansen who was editor of the local paper could buy the land.
Bill Day was one of the attorneys, but not ours. He said after the first hearing that Don Johansen was the only one involved who did not have an attorney. He didn't need one because he had the judge.
Then for the next hearing, Talbott got Miller from Presho to be the judge "to avoid any appearance of impropriety". Johansen put in a bid in the name of his printing corporation which had no provision for owning agricultural land. Miller said he had no obligation to enforce the state law banning corporate ownership of farm land. I contacted the SD Judicial Qualifications member Sam Masten. That went nowhere. I was told I would need an attorney and that only an out-of-state attorney with a license to practice in SD would touch such a case.
Now we have the SD Supreme court approving the refinery in Union county. Claiming that air quality had been considered or some such.. I have not yet read a newspaper report on that. The SD Environmental protection is a farce. Cattle and hog feeding operations can stink for 20 miles. No telling how square miles of land can be made nearly uninhabitable by oil refineries.
Thank you for informing us that the Grant Co. boards knew the students were coming to the zoning meeting. If they were told to be there early, apparently Dr. Thaler knew there was going to be limited seating. How many people on this website think the SDSU students should have had priority seating over the concerned tax-paying citizens of Grant Co. Also, was there limited seating in the meetings at Parker, Canton, and Davison Co.?
In the past, the meetings were held in the school theater when they anticipated a large crowd.
Arne, thank you very much for that clarification. Earl, you make a good point: if the zoning committee knew the students were coming, and if they knew locals were worked up about this issue, why didn't they seek a larger venue?
Corey - this was a sit-in!
Arne, It was very sad that only one student gave up their seat for an older man. The students sure knew there were a lot of older folks standing in the back of the room. It does not speak well for the student population of SDSU. Also perhaps making a video for the students to watch, or live feed in the courthouse basement. I was the first one seated in the courtroom and Walt Bones was pacing the hall and courtroom like an expectant father until the students were seated, then he visibly relaxed-mission accomplished.
I find it unsettling that the Grant County Commissionors and the planning and zoning board have to use "tactics" to get leverage in their favor! I was at the courthouse in the hall and was surprised that SDSU students were there, as I asked Karen Layher! In the past we went to the Milbank High School theatre. This meeting didn't set to well with me, so i called the school about the Theatre. Its 75.00 to rent, plus additional fees for lights, tables, and janitoral services as needed for your perticul meeting. And the lady (Peggy, I'm unsure of the name.) said the Milltones use it on monday nites. So I asked if it was used the monday nite of the meeting of the planning and zoning board. She said it was available!!! Now I'm upset as i think this was deliberate, to hold the meeting in the court room and not at the high school theatre!!!! I quess my biggest concern is, what happened to "For the People, By the People" style of government??? Having things that affect the people of the county without their imput is just ludicrist. If this is open government, we are in trouble. Some of the research i've done, it seems to me, Washington, D.C., want large "factory" farms, which they wave dollars in front of the states and say, if you want this, we want "factory" farms. Then the Governor puts pressure on the Counties and the visious cycle continues and we the people are ignored. As i recall at the meeting, only 2 Grant County citizens wanted this and 4-6 did not want this. Of course Walt Bones was for it and the people making their pitch for the permit. 1. Walt Bones dont live in Grant County. 2. Neither will the permit holders. 3. Only the citizens of Grant should decide whats best for them. 4.Drive just south and east of Sioux Falls into Iowa, Thats what Grant County will smell like. 5. Why did sow barn come to Grant County?? They where invited by the Grant County Development Corporation.. The people that live in the county didn't ask them!! 6. My quess is the rules and regulations are to strict in Minnesota and Iowa for Teton to expand!! 7. So i ask "why" expolit South Dakota zoning laws when we as a state don't have a clue as to the consequences of these "factory" farms will impact our water and air when your put 1000's of animals on a couple of acre's!!!! In summing up I quess when I vote at the next election, i hope the candidate talks to his people of his district and make his votes accordingly to what the people want, as the people are his boss!! I quess its time to clean house so to speak!!
Mark makes a great point about the smell in Iowa. When we go down to see family, we have to have the windows closed. Those poor people in some towns have to endure the smell no matter which way the wind blows. I was amazed that you couldn't go down the highway without always being in sight of one confinement unit.
Michael- Psychological studies would argue with you, most studies show that you don't smell much after a few weeks, or that it doesn't bother you. Now I'm not saying that other issues wouldn't persist or that I would want one across the road from me. Just that I don't think smell is the reason so many people are complaining.
Is the person who lives 2600 feet against this? I don't know what the local zoning laws are. Some of them I think need to be updated as the technology with lagoons and CAFO's does help with smell quite a bit.
I don't understand making SDSU students out to be the bad guys though. They showed up early and got seats. Be mad at whoever was holding the meeting for having it in such a small meeting. I think being mad at those who show up early enough to get a seat is like being mad at those who have tickets for a sold out shows
Joe Boo, If they just happened to come in to the meeting that would be one thing. But to bring that many students who had to be there for their class is quite another. And nothing excuses a bunch of healthy, young people sitting while their elders had to stand for nearly 3 hours. I saw students texting, playing games on their phones and napping.
I grew up on a farm and trust me, you still smell it every day.
Oh by the way, would the fact that the state is giving over $5,000,000 to SDSU for a new hog facility factor in here?
the grant county ordinances were updated around 2004. Saying ordinances were not updated since 1960 is a bold faced lie. SDSU students have a right to be at a public hearing. There has not been a CAFO permit hearing in the high school theatre- that was a public input hearing on zoning ordinances which is easier to move legally. Grant County did put a loud speaker in the rotunda so that people there could hear what was said. I entered the hearing room after 4:00 pm, found a seat and testified. Jerry Zubke came in and sat behind me. The hearing started at 4:30. Less than a month prior to the Teton,LLC permit hearing there was another CAFO permit hearing in Grant County and only two people showed up. The zoning board attached a condition to the TEton, LLC permit of installing and operating bio filters on the large fans that ventilate the pit. through out the hearing Grant County zoning board members questioned Teton, LLC about odor control and other aspects of their operations. Even though no one testifying against the CAFO permit asked for any odor management practice Grant County did attached that to the permit. Odor control is a problem from livestock operations down to smallish sizes same as water pollution. Note the latest EPA rules. Writing out all CAFO's will inevitably leave the next generation of farmers to large grain farms since we lost enough livestock farms in the 70's to depopulate our rural areas. The soil borings under the Teton, LLC concrete lined pit site showed 50 feet of clay. If DENR rules should be tighter, and I think some should be, then repealing SDCL 1-40-4.1 might be an idea. There's a lot of mud slinging against legal and illegal CAFO's that was appropriate 8 to 10 years ago before the big ones got into the DENR permit system and as zoning stopped building over shallow aquifers. We still need to watch out for our water and we still need to balance right to farm, including chemical fertilizer, grain traffic and bins, pesticides, manure management, dust, etc with rural residents and outdoor activity( we are still a hunting and fishing people). Cheap exagerations do not help.
Are you telling me that the 1/2 mile setback was changed in 2004? FYI, that is what this is all about. They (Grant Co. Development Corp.) want to build it too darn close to 3 homes, and until the setback is changed, there will be trouble every time. I don't appreciate being called a liar, I was told four years ago the 1/2 mile setback was put in place in the 1960's.
Bottom line--zoning laws should not be used as a means for "government takings". Local property owners should not face the loss of the peaceful enjoyment of their home/property. When I was on the Lake County Commision in the early 90's, if there was CUP being considered and there was neighborly objection,my viewpoint was widely expanded to consider all possibilities. What I understand is that this project is being built on idle land -nor is it an expansion of an existing hog operation--am I right? Therefore the rights and privileges of existing neighbors takes high preference in what decision is finally made. Always remember, a CUP is not a permissable use on first application. It must go through the litmus test of a hearing and commission members are free to place any and all "conditions" they deem necessary. They also are within their job role to outright deny a permit.
This is not an existing facility, this is bare land. There are three homes just outside the setback area, with a few more homes a little farther beyond. As the wind blows the town of Big Stone City is not far away. There is also a well within the setback area. One of the residents came to the hearing with evidence that quite a few of the so-called manure acres where they could apply their waste were bogus. One quarter belongs to an organic farmer who did not know his quarter was listed, another was not signed by the actual owner of the land. Still another listed the quarter as 190 acres but is legally only 160 acres, some of the land is low, with cat tails and a lot of the land is tiled. The facility is on a hill wth a spring right below it. The zoning board was completely uninterested in working with their neighbors, the biofilters are not required, only recommended and it would be up to Pipestone to determine if their installation would be economical for them. Only one zoning board member voted 'no'. They would not even table it until they investigated the charges against the permit. Our Commisioners held no hearing after the permit was filed, only the zoning board and they okay'd it pending the SD DENR decision. One problem with our outdated zoning ordinance is there is no cap on the number of animals within the 1/2 mile setback. You could have many thousands, there is no legal protection. Are we missing something Charlie?
Only thoughtful Zoning board members and a county commission with some foresight.
Unfortunately true. Drives me a little crazy an unelected board can decide this.
I think the fact that it is reported that these students have been at 4 hearings for hog cafo's is quite telling? How many do they need for their education?
Linda, I was in the hall by the jury deliberation room door and i heard only about 60-70% of what was said from inside the courtroom! A couple of times the speaker either lost power or someone kick a cord or the person speaking was not using the microphone, as one could hear faint speaking and not understanding anything that was being said! From what i heard only you and Jerry were the only citizens for the project!!!! There more citizens againest the permit! Now far as the order, biofilters, i'm not sure how they function but unless they pull the ammonia out of the discharged air, it will be release into the atmosphere and the proposed planting of trees around the building site to help minimize the so called 18 day oder, I think is just bs! Teton will have a 10 ft pit under the buildings and the air space from the slats to the top of the manure will be everyday oder zone. This space is what the pit fans will pull to the outside of the buildings and will instensify when someone stirs the manure to liquidfy to dispose of it to the fields. I raised hogd and when i built my farrow barn i put in a tank outside of the building. Why you ask?? Because when the electricity goes out, you have a volitital situation!! 5-10 minutes pigs die.. If people enter, they die.. Now i would imagine they will have generators to kick in, but I dont know as nothing was said.. The size of this proposed unit this problem will be magnified 1000 fold. And when you magnify number of animals, you magnify all things associated with it.. And addressing the depopulation of the county livestock producers, money!! The laws of the land say, pay taxes, pay your bills, be a good neighbor!!! It didn't pay to keep livestock as the farmers have to get enough money from the enterprize to make it cash flow!! Teton will get tax breaks for building in the first five years. I never got that! I know as a stand alone business, paying for 7.00 corn, 400/ton soyb meal, paying for a 11 million dollar of assets that last only 10-15 years, with 85.00 hogs will very tough! Then pay wages and any insurances for employees. The pencil isn't that scharp!! The South Dakota taxpayers will be used in what ever form necessary to make this operation fly and the pressure is from the top, Washington, D.C. Gov Duquard, down to the county commisioners!!! And lastly, 50 ft of clay where the pit will be. If there is that much clay under the building, how much clay around on the surrounding fields where the manure will spread??? In the Janurary 28 2013 Agweek an article from the university of Minnesota- Paulo Pagliar has found that soils with a higher ph(greater than7, like soils in western Minnesota) the phosphorus will break down more slowly. They have found that soils with a higher clay content (greater than 12 percent) might have a lower mineralization of organic phosphorus and may take moe than one cropping year to utilize. Now as i understand the article that means Teton will need MORE acres to haul there manure on and they might not to use the same fields every year!!! So why are they coming here?? I think the regulations are stiffer in Minnesota than in South Dakota. This article just reinforced my opinion, the grant county planning and zoning needed to more research before okaying the permit!!!!
Four hearings, Gail? Which ones? Were they different groups of students, taking the class during different semesters?
Mark, start looking up the water situation in Pipestone. The wells are dry, some of the deeper ones are undrinkable. One fellow said he will somehow have to come up with 16,000 to hook up to rural water and guess what? Rural water is tapped out too.
A question? Is SDSU technology challenged? Its cheaper to send up a bus of students to sit in on a cafo meeting for educational purposes than to send up one person in a car and set up a camera and audio at the planning and zoning board and then make it manditory for the students to set in the class room of the professor that wants this???? I've heard that high schools use this technique to share teachers to teach students as student numbers decrease in rural areas!!! Is SDSU beneath this????? This is what they are teaching??? Spending someone's elses money is painless!!! Is not the out come the same in the name of education???? Seems to me there is ALOT of politics involved!!!
There was a story recently in one of the ag pages about the problem in Pipestone, that is where the fellow said he will probably need rural water. Can't find that link though.
Dear Earl Hanson, Saying that the ordinances have not been updated since the 1960's just is not true! You may go back and pull out some sentence of setback that wasn't changed but it will have nothing to do with CAFO's in the 1960's because they did not exist back then. There may have been some large cattle feedlots over a 1,000 head of cattle back then but no one had required manure containment nor labeled them CAFO's. I certainly agree that ordinances should be updated as needed and I showed up to study it at length when I had the opportunity. I'm all for sensible changes as is your County government. I'm getting the impression from this blog that people think County government has the right to freeze land use in it's tracks and that EPA and DENR rules are just not in the picture. People are also under the impression that a County permit hearing is some kind of juried trial. I'm interested in how to prevent conflicts with existing uses while still allowing people to have livestock farms and other businesses on their own land. So also are the SDSU students. It was important for technicalities of the permit requirements be brought up at the hearing and that was done well. Teton/Pipestone did meet all the requirements of the ordinances, including the acres required because they kept seeking manure easements right up to the hearing date. There are enough neighbors willing to use manure as fertilizer. Hog manure is good fertilizer. The county did attach the biofilter requirement to the conditional use permit as a condition. I heard it and expect that it is in writing. I have never been under the impression that how you farm or who you sell your land to should be up to a vote of the neighbors. In general the law also says that neighbors aren't allowed to ruin nearby property and ordinances can help prevent problems there. Just putting in setbacks long enough to keep new livestock farms away from certain people's houses doesn't prevent odor, traffic, pollution problems. I have read quite a few documents from the CAFO panic and see that livestock farm less than a 1000 animal units are often implicated in property values and odor and self reported health and that setbacks of 3 miles are not enough to escape those effects in those papers. So I'm all for Counties working on details like extra manure storage, odor control design, etc. instead.
Dear Linda Simmons,
You have made it very clear to all of us that you think the SDSU students should have deserved seats over tax-paying citizens of Grant Co. You have made it very clear to all of us that you think a 1/2 mile setback is sufficient for an unlimited number of animals.
I am sad to say that the Governor is on your side, the Sec. of Ag. is on your side, the majority of the State Legislature is on your side, all of the Grant Co. Commissioners are on your side, the Grant Co. Zoning Officer is on your side, all but one of the Grant Co. Zoning Board members are on your side, and the Milbank Economic Development Board is on your side.
May GOD HELP US!!!
If i understand this right, Pipestone county has setback of 1/4 mile up to 800au and an additional 1.25 ft per au over 800 au. So Teton could have only alittle over 1600 hd of sows with litter with a 1/4 mile setback. If Teton wants 6000 hd of sows and litter, it would need the 1/4 mile setback plus 2525 additional ft from a neighbors house, hospital or park. and a mile set back from churches, cemeteries, schools and corprate limits. So i assume that this is restrictive for them there so why is everybody here bitching when we the concerned citizens of grant county want it? Is that not why they (Teton) want to move here? Besides the grant county devolopment corp asking them! Again it seems to me, Teton wants to take advantage of our zoning laws before the planning and zoning board wake up and see that maybe there is a reason for the setbacks the grant county concerned citizens want and the pipestone county has!!!
I never have said a 1/2 mi is good enough for an unlimited number. the rules of operation and design count a lot also. Those rules prevent pollution, not setbacks. I took the time to give my input in a study group, I've taken the time to read many anti-CAFO publications by pain stakingly tracking down the originals. I come to the issue with my own experience and thoughtfulness. I hope that other people in the County take the time to read the ordinances and consider if and how they can be better and give their input when they have the chance rather than complain about hearings. Neighbor, if you needed a seat in side the hearing room I would have given you mine. I can stand on my own two feet.
Wake up you people in Grant County, if you want to smell s### every day, put in a confinement of any kind! Petition to put it in just south of Milbank so you can enjoy the south winds when they are operating, you don't think they will stink? You will find out when it is too late, you have one of the sharpest young farmers in the state in the form of Mark Schuler, you better pay attention to him when he talks!
"It didn’t take Daniel Damm long to figure out why the water from his faucets suddenly turned black. His well was running dry because the turkey farm up the road near Willmar had sucked down the local aquifer."
Too late Herb. When the wind is out of the south, Milbank stinks from the cafos 4 miles away. Mark is an incredibly smart and articulate fellow. Should he be our commissioner? Larry, I am afrais that that is what our aquifir is in for too.
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