Press "Enter" to skip to content

Dakota Rural Action: Two Pro-CAFO Bills Down, HB 1201 to Go

Dakota Rural Action does not like concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs). Big feedlots pose a greater risk to land, water, and air quality than other forms of agriculture.

Dakota Rural Action has managed to knock down two bills promoting CAFOs in the 2015 Legislature. House Bill 1173 threatened to make folks who appeal zoning decisions for CAFOs pay for their failed appeals; DRA got that bill hoghoused down to a mere clarification of existing statute. Senate Bill 127 would have weakened South Dakota's Family Farming Act by allowing corporations to own hog farms. DRA members called Pierre enough to get prime sponsor Senator Arthur Rusch (R-17/Vermillion) to pull the plug on his bill.

Now Dakota Rural Action is fighting what it calls the worst of this Session's CAFO bills. House Bill 1201 moves decisions on conditional-use permits from elected county officials to appointed boards of adjustment. It changes the vote threshold for approving conditional use permits from two-thirds to simple majority. Essentially, this bill makes it easier for the state and corporations to push more CAFOs into counties. It ignores the basic parliamentary rule that "suspending the rules," which we do when we allow a CAFO or any other development to break the normal building and environmental rules with a "conditional use," requires something larger than a simple majority vote.

House Local Government passed HB 1201 last Thursday 10–3, with Rep. Lana Greenfield (R-2/Doland) briefly emerging from her GOP confusion and voting with Democratic Rep. Paula Hawks (D-9/Hartford) and Rep. Karen Soli (D-15/Sioux Falls) against the corporate CAFO agenda. DRA is now focused on educating members of the House, who have today and tomorrow to act on HB 1201 before the deadline to send bills to the opposite chamber.

Related Tweeting: Mike Henriksen makes a connection between HB 1201 and South Dakota's declining farm numbers:

Update 10:06 CST: Dakota Rural Action summarizes its opposition to HB 1201 in this open letter to legislators, which DRA invites you to sign:

What the bill really does is this: it takes decision-making power on conditional use permits out of the hands of elected officials and puts it in the hands of appointed boards of adjustment, where the only recourse for an appeal is to go straight to court. It then allows counties to lower the number of votes needed to approve conditional use permits from 4/5 to 3/5, even though all other decisions still require a 4/5 vote. And finally, the bill is the first step in codifying a conditional use site certification program, one which would completely cut out public participation in the siting, review, and approval of conditional uses even though these decisions can have huge impact on surrounding properties, farms, ranches, and businesses [Dakota Rural Action, open letter to South Dakota Legislature, February 2015].


  1. Paul Seamans 2015.02.24

    It is my understanding that HB 1201 will be voted on today(Tuesday). Governor Daugaard's idea of economic development seems to be development of CAFO's along the I29 corridor. Are there workers available that will work in these confined chicken and hog farms? Are these CAFO's about jobs or is it more about increased tax revenues for the state and counties?

  2. caheidelberger Post author | 2015.02.24

    Paul, they'll be able to import that workforce, right? No vo-tech scholarships or Dakota Roots marketing necessary?

    Is anyone counting votes, Paul? Do we have a majority on nay yet? Is there any legislator on the fence on whom opponents may focus their calls this morning?

  3. Paul Seamans 2015.02.24

    Cory, I am not up on what the chances are. I emailed all of the legislators last night in opposition to the bill. Once a CAFO is permitted it is like a bond issue that has been passed, it almost never has its permit rescinded. Officials are too worried about being sued by the permittee. This is one reason that the law should be left as is with a super majority being needed for a conditional use permit.

  4. mike from iowa 2015.02.24

    From local control to lack -o'- control in one easy step.

  5. Brad Olson 2015.02.24

    Does no one with the power of a vote on this look at the history of CAFO's. It takes no more than going to Google and checking CAFO's history of destroying Water and Air Quality. While there check out CAFO's Cruelty to Animals videos. There is a lot to be learned from history.

  6. mike from iowa 2015.02.24

    Animal cruelty videos are filmed under duress,of the cafo owner/operators who have gotten wingnuts and the Farm Burro to back them in legislation to outlaw the videotaping of confined animals solely to hurt the cafo image. People see how these animals are treated they might not buy beef or pork or eggs,etc.

  7. Sam @ 2015.02.24

    DRC is wrong this bill does not put the CaFO into the boards of adjustments. Most counties already have a BOA and one elected offical must serve not the BOA. This is nothing more than a anti development bill. People that are short sighted and think like the DRC are causing are young people to leave the state for higher out of state jobs. If you listen to the committee testimony for this bill, you see it has allowed family farms to expand. The state needs to get to the level Iowa is at where the DNR has final say on all CAFO permits. What we do not hear about is the jobs that are not created by the people who can not afford the fight. This bill will mak it easier for the small farmer.

  8. caheidelberger Post author | 2015.02.24

    Hold the phone, Sam: you think DRA and people interested in conservation and democratic participation are driving young people out of the state?

    Whether the CAFOs are owned by big corporations or "family farms", do they not pose the same environmental harms? Are there not more sustainable, less destructive ways to farm and invite more young people to make an independent living in farming?

  9. Sam @ 2015.02.24

    If we used the same technology today as we did in 1960 we would need 73,000,000 layers to supply the same number of,people. What would be the effect of using old technology? We need to feed 9 billion people by 2050 and 70 percent of,the food we need has to come from new technology. It would be nice to see 50 pigs on every section, however it is not practical.

  10. Sam @ 2015.02.24

    Correction more layers. Flock size of 370 million vs the 300 million we have today

  11. Paul Seamans 2015.02.24

    Sam@; Dakota Rural Action is hardly the cause of young people leaving the state. DRA holds a series of classes for young farmers every winter. The classes teach around 15 young farm families the ropes of running a farm, many of whom had never farmed before. Around 75% of the graduates are in some form of farming. DRA organizers work hard to promote local foods, food co-ops on both ends of the state, CSA's, and food hubs. DRA does not support CAFO's but instead supports the small farmers as a means of raising a more humane livestock product. DRA has worked over the years to protect our air, water, soil and the environment in general. I don't know of any organization in South Dakota that has worked longer or harder to protect the family farm.

  12. Charlie Johnson 2015.02.24

    It would be helpful if Sam would identify himself. No name --no credence. The old technology is the CAFO approach. The new and modern approach is to raise livestock in less crowded conditions with access to the outside. Last year 75 semi loads of organic grain left my farm for locations in SE MN, SW Wisconsin, NE Iowa, and northern Illinois to feed organic dairy cattle that produce $35 milk while in SD we push dairy CAFO's that sell $18 milk. We got it all wrong here in South Dakota. DRA has the right vision. If you want to comment back, let us know who you are. Or are you part of the 6 million birds ready to placed near Parker? kluck kluck!!!

  13. Why agriculture of the middle matters:

    From the article:

    While larger-scale agriculture does create some job opportunities, these jobs tend to be more like factory work, with lower rates of pay and more repetitive tasks: “About 45% of all hired farmworkers aged 25 years and older are low-wage earners who earn less than the poverty threshold for a family of four,” according to “A Report of the Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production: Community and Social Impacts of Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations.”

  14. Steve Hickey 2015.02.27

    This will be a big conversation in our state for the next few years. I stood up on the house floor a few times the session to speak against CAFOs. Each of you should listen to the House floor debate from earlier this week on 1201. My friend Rep Mickelson is very forthright about the need for many many more CAFOs . We are about to see a big surge in South Dakota agriculture in this area. In the 1990s my father in Hutchison county thought a big CAFO Tyson hog farm operation coming in. The issues the neighbors raise are real. It is aA battle between stink and money.

    I should probably apologize to the entire state of Iowa for commenting on the floor about one of my kids asking years ago "did you blow one or are we in Iowa?"

    As the legal avenues to challenge these big operations are being weakened, my advice for someone trying to fight a hog farm coming in across the roadis as follows: Since they say air quality is not affected by 3000 sows across the road, say to them, "okay then you won't mind if I put up at Morton building and open a sick pig hospital and have my kids walk sick respiratory-infected piggies up and down the road after school every day." That exchange actually happened in my district last fall and the capo moved to the farm location. As you know K photos are vulnerable to airborne bacteria and that's why they keep the public out. I asked about visiting one and was told I couldn't because of risk of disease.

    Sen. Billie Sutton's wife wrote something on vertical integration and these big farms driving out the little guys. He sent me a letter she wrote, fascinating.

  15. Steve Hickey 2015.02.27

    Please forgive typos. I'm talking into my phone. I meant to say my dad fought an incoming CAFO in Hutchison county. Jim Abouresk was his lawyer. The other main typos I mean to say CAFOs not K photos.

  16. Bill Fleming 2015.02.27

    K Photos. LOL. Gotta love that autocorrect, huh, Steve?

  17. mike from iowa 2015.02.27

    Maybe wingnuts think all these hog cafos will protect them from Muslim terrorists.

  18. Paul Seamans 2015.02.27

    Funny, Mike from Iowa. They can start huge housing developments in the center of mega hog farms. Just one more good selling point for hog CAFO's. One problem for the Turner County people, I don't think that chickens will scare off any Islamic extremists.

  19. mike from iowa 2015.02.27

    What is even funnier,Paul S is that Victoria Jackson-formerly of SNL and a certified wingnut-claims Obama is a Muslim terrorist because he supports same sex marriage. Scott Walker,guv of Wisconsin and another certified wingnut says dealing with union protestors is like dealing with ISIS and that qualifies him to be Potus. They are all effing bat-s#$t crazy. Sorry to get so far off topic. Sen Inhoffe of Okie says you can't explain global warming because he is holding a snowball.

Comments are closed.