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Davison County Hog CAFO Stinking out Neighbors; Where’s Noem?

Jackrabbit Farms, a new 5000-head hog farm south of Mount Vernon, is making a stink:

Neighbor Lyle Reimnitz said company representatives told him before construction that the facility would smell less than 2 percent of the time, and that hasn't been the case.

"I'm going to have to live there. I don't plan on dying any time today," Reimnitz said. "And I will not live with that stench in my yard."

Barry Kerkaert, a veterinarian with facility manager Pipestone System, said officials never promised that Jackrabbit Farms would be odor-free. Pipestone attorney Sean Simpson said the company has done what the county and neighbors have asked, including spending $30,000 on biofilters.

"What I suspect is that we're in a position where we'll never fully satisfy the neighbors of the smell," Simpson said. "Until there's scientific data supporting some of this, we're not just going to spend money every month or year to try to meet these unreasonable requests" ["South Dakota Hog Farm, Neighbors Battle over Smell," AP via Rapid City Journal, 2014.08.14].

Yes, because it's unreasonable to expect a business to live up to its claims and not make life unbearable for its neighbors.

You know, all those service jobs toward which South Dakota's economy is shifting don't emit nearly as many noxious fumes. Maybe instead of expending resources to promote polluting mega-dairies and help counties identify sites for giant, smelly concentrated animal feeding operations like Jackrabbit Farms, the state should consider helping counties attract businesses with less noxious impact on air and water.

By the way, Davison County neighbors, recall that Rep. Kristi Noem showed up at the Jackrabbit Family Farms' opening last year to say the hog lot would be great for family farms and national security. It would be nice if she would as eagerly drop by neighboring houses when the breeze carrying the stench of 5000 pigs' worth of poop imprisons neighbors in their homes. Neighbors, you can extend that invitation to Noem at DakotaFest next week on Tuesday, August 19.

Noem is touring nearby towns already, but she wants to hear about people's frustration with government, not people's frustration with corporations.


  1. mike from iowa 2014.08.14

    The only reasonable request would be that these owners live on site with their windows open and clothes hanging on the line outside to soak up nature's beautiful I meant fresh air. Can't do that? Vultures might make off with your sulfurous,dead meat smelling laundry,eh?

  2. Kevin Weiland 2014.08.14

    South Dakota, Great Faces, Smelly Places

  3. Disgusted Dakotan 2014.08.14

    Want to get a whiff of what it is like? There is a smaller hog farm along I-90 that stinks for miles.

  4. Lynn 2014.08.14

    I'm still surprised this facility was approved by Davison County

  5. David Newquist 2014.08.14

    Since I was a newspaper editor during the time that hog confinement systems were beginning to gain popularity, I have been chronicling the saga of stench. Inevitably, farmers who set up confinement systems had frictions with their neighbors over the odiferous environment that developed, despite the claims of manufacturers, extension experts, and the farmers that the confinement systems would be relatively odor-free. They stunk up the air for miles around.

    One example I recall was with a Jaycee Outstanding Young Farmer, whose neighbors said that what made him outstanding was the level of stench his operation created. It was a building constructed over a deep concrete vault filled with water, into which the piggy doodoo dropped directly through steel grates. The theory was that anaerobic bacteria would process the manure into an odor-free slurry that could be disposed. The facility was very close to the Mississippi River, and people in a nearby village claimed with the stench so strong, boaters had to travel for miles to escape it and reach the fresh air they were on the river to breath. But the most devastated victim was a farmer who lived on land first settled and farmed by his ancestors and who was an agricultural leader in the county. The odor-free fumes traveled up the valley to his home and invaded the house. His children came home from school in tears because their clothes smelled of manure and the other kids ridiculed them. He eventually bought a home in a nearby town and moved his family off the farm and away from his rather elegant ancestral home. That hog operation was eventually abandoned after all the hogs in it died from an unstoppable disease epidemic.

    Another operation I think of is near Tacoma Park on the James River where I have a work studio. When a group of farmers built a confinement operation there, they insisted that it would not generate any odor. The county commission took them at their word and approved a permit. As soon as the place was stocked with pigs, the stench drifted over into the park. One Fourth of July became known as the Independence Day Massacre. People came to their residences in the park to barbecue, picnic, and let their kids celebrate with fireworks. But the hog stench invaded, and while people tended their barbecues, they found the olfactory atmosphere so revolting that they could not think of eating. They lit bonfires and fireworks in hopes of dispelling the smell, but half of them ended up moving their gatherings and picnics to other places.

    Despite the fact that advocates insist that the odors emitted by confinement operations are only occasional and that there is no scientific evidence that the wastes are hazardous to the environment and human health, there is evidence that industrial farming poses serious risks. But the agribusiness mentality is not capable of acknowledging such evidence.

  6. mike from iowa 2014.08.14

    Iowa counties used to have local control over CAFO sitings but Farm Bureau and AG korporations promptly had that control overturned so these things can be built within a quarter mile of residences and schools.

  7. Lynn 2014.08.14

    Besides the concern I have for surrounding landowners of an industrial ag facility such as this I am curious what happens to this highly concentrated animal waste. What are the risks and how is it processed? Will it possibly contaminate local ground water? Clean air is something we take for granted and I'd definitely be concerned for the surrounding landowners of an industrial ag confinement facility.

  8. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.08.14

    Essentially it's reverse takings: one private company takes a public resource, the air, away from everyone else in the neighborhood without any compensation.

    How can anyone ever fall for the claim that a hog farm won't smell?

  9. Steve Sibson 2014.08.14

    It is not just corporate Ag. There is a colony just north of the Davison County line that put in a lagoon to hold the crap from their hog confinement. They did it without a permit because they claimed to not know better. It got approved after the fact. Whenever there is a north wind, you don't enjoy hanging out on my land just to the south.

    Second point: The governor's office sent people to Mitchell to discuss locations for large corporate dairies in June. District III Planning is also involved with this agenda.

  10. Lynn 2014.08.14

    Steve how long ago did the Colony install that lagoon? Is it up to code? Is it lined? I'm curious besides the stench if it contaminates local ground water.

  11. Bill Fleming 2014.08.14

    Is it just me, or is there a faint whiff of that same odor coming off the computer monitor every time a grudznick post shows up?

  12. mike from iowa 2014.08.14

    Some aren't real bad,some are putrid. Most owner/operators around here are careful stewards. But then we don't have mega-farm korporate confinements around here anymore. The liquid waste is pumped out in the fall and knifed below the surface of the ground to stop much of the odor and preserve the nutrients forr next year's crops. Hog manure is "HOT" with nitrogen and if applied to green plants it will burn them brown and kill them in short order. It also causes problems in waterways,streams,etc when it spills or is blown onto frozen ground and not knifed in.

  13. Mark 2014.08.14

    EDAAC Program. Economic Development at Any Cost Program. Stinks.

  14. larry kurtz 2014.08.14

    Anyone know what percentage of water for these feeding operations come from rural systems, watersheds and aquifers?

  15. Craig 2014.08.14

    With all due repect to Mr. Reimnitz, did he get that assurance in writing? Clearly not - because anyone affiliated with a hog confinement facility isn't going to sign their name to anything that says the place won't stink.

    Sooner or later we are going to run out of places to put those types of operations because you can hardly find land which isn't within a mile of existing homes. Everyone seems to love their bacon and sausage... do they bother to think where it comes from?

    Perhaps the only true solution is a buffer around such facilities. They should be forced to buy any residential homes in the buffer area for 150% of market value if they want to build a confinement operation. If they cannot obtain approval from all the homeowners - then the facility isn't approved for that site. Problem solved.

    Doesn't help Mr. Reimnitz much however... which stinks for him (pun intended).

  16. Steve Sibson 2014.08.14

    Lynn, it was 10 to 15 years ago. It sets next to a creek system that feeds the James River.

  17. owen reitzel 2014.08.14

    Noem also doesn't want to hear the frustrations with HER as well.

    which colony Steve?

  18. Bill Fleming 2014.08.14

    A friend of mine was riding a horse who ran him into the branch of a tree and really knocked him for a loop.

    He recovered pretty much intact, but without his sense of smell. Said it didn't really bother him too much, but that the main food he could taste was chocolate pie.

    Too bad we can't have a little switch to turn our sniffers off and on. Without getting too graphic, I can think of plenty of times it might come in handy, and I bet the rest of you can too ;-)

  19. Anne Beal 2014.08.14

    What happened to the plans to use methane digesters to generate electricity?

  20. Steve Sibson 2014.08.15

    Owen, can't remember the name of the colony. They are just north of the Davison/Sanborn county line which is 244th street and on 412th ave. The lagoon is about a half mile north of 244 st and almost a mile west of 412 ave.

  21. Steve Sibson 2014.08.15

    I would like to make the point that Big Ag, which is the concentration of wealth and power, can be created by either capitalism or socialism. I believe standing up for the rights of the little guy is a theme Democrats, Independents, and conservatives (true conservatives that is) can rally behind.

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