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Opposing HB 1201, DRA Explains CAFO-Happy County Site Analysis Program

House Bill 1201, which Dakota Rural Action has deemed the worst of the CAFO bills in this year's Legislative Session, heads to Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources this morning at 10:00. HB 1201, the only bill on the committee's agenda, would make it harder for citizens concerned about stink, water contamination, and other damage caused by big livestock feedlots to block such harmful ag-industrial developments in their neighborhoods.

Dakota Rural Action's excellent legislative blog notes that the state, which views farming as nothing but economic development, not land stewardship or community building, goes to great lengths to promote big CAFOs. This post from Meghan Thoreau describes the state's County Site Analysis Program and its focus on Big Ag:

The Program has been under development for the past several years and involves several key players, such as the South Dakota Department of Agriculture, First District Association of Local government, Planning and Development District III, Turner County Landowner Value Added Finance Authority Board Member and a few others. As it stands today the program is attempting to grow AG related industries through pre-qualifying sites for Confined Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) or Agriculturally Related Industrial Development (ARID), such as ethanol plants, cheese plants, granaries, and agricultural manufactures alike. The current methodology and analysis applied is very landowner and CAFO-ARID-operator centric, involving the landowners of pre-qualifying sites and operators of CAFO and ARID industries, with no great effort to secure public participation in the selection of sites, nor communities’ or the environment’s interests. (The only environmental factor taken into account is the area within the protected aquifer zone.) [Meghan Thoreau, "South Dakota's County Site Analysis Program," Dakota Rural Action legislative blog, 2015.02.25]

The County Site Analysis Program isn't about helping counties identify good locations for community gardens, farmers markets, or other small-scale agricultural projects that would promote sustainability and local self-sufficiency. The state wants factory farms. The County Site Analysis Program flags land for such development, and now House Bill 1201 seeks to weaken the review process that allows citizens to weigh the pros and cons of dedicating their land and water to meat and milk factories.

The state already gives factory farms numerous advantages. Let's not take away the few remaining advantages citizens have to protect their counties from over-industrialization. Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources, vote no today on HB 1201.


  1. Paul Seamans 2015.03.03

    Not only are CAFO's a big part of Gov. Daugaard's economic development but they are also a big part of the DENR's push. Dept. head Steve Pirner is more proud of the number of CAFO's permitted than he is about protecting the environment. The DENR seems to have shifted it's purpose towards the governors program of economic development.

  2. Don Carr 2015.03.03

    And while Parker residents are up in arms over the chicken operation, and the concerns Onida residents have for a new ethanol plant. Couldn't be timelier or more important.

  3. Roger 2015.03.03

    Two Mega dairies proposed for Grant County, three more proposed for Codington County.... at $13M a pop, where is this money coming from? is EB5 still running?

  4. mike from iowa 2015.03.03

    I have a hog cafo a half mile north of me,one another mile north,one about a half mile west,one a mile west,one a mile and a half west and another two miles west of my residence. And another about two and a half miles south.

    About five miles east is a cattle feedlot that holds upwards of 10000 head and it drains downslope to the Waterman Creek which is a major tributary of my beloved Little Sioux River. Farm Bureau and iowa legislators took local control of cafo sitings away from counties because they weren't allowing cafos to be built. Now they can site within a quarter mile of occupied residences with virtually no citizen input.

  5. mike from iowa 2015.03.03

    Molly Ivins warned about "captive agencies". Those being run by the outfits they were supposed to be regulating. dumbass dubya filled his administration with captive agencies.

  6. jerry 2015.03.03

    So now, we want these confined livestock factories to pollute our water and our land. What about the workers? How will they eat and live with the republican taking away even more of a safety net for them. From the agriculture committee:

    "Chairman Conaway, a CPA by trade, is committed to begin a top to bottom review of the program with no preconceived notions or legislative agenda. At the full committee hearing on Wednesday, he said the committee wants the committee to “strengthen the program so it can serve as a tool to help individuals move up the economic ladder,” and doesn’t want SNAP to “hold people back from achieving their potential.”"

    They poison the water, they poison the lands and then they have the balls to say they want to cut back on food stamps so you "are not held back" by a loaf of white bread. Only a republican could think in such a way to destroy all that has been given.

  7. mike from iowa 2015.03.03

    A loaf of bread won't hold you back,but an unlivable wage sure as hell will. Oh-we weren't talking about wages,stick to the assignment.

  8. jerry 2015.03.03

    To continue the road we are on is a road to disaster. We are seeing this more and more each passing week. Mega storms and rising waters. Then this to contaminate the place even further. There seems to be no vision whatsoever when it comes to what is best for all. You are correct mikefromiowa, I will stick to the assignment.

  9. Paul Seamans 2015.03.03

    HB 1201 just passed in Senate Ag. Senators Frerichs and Peterson were the two nay votes. Committee room was packed.

  10. Kathy Tyler 2015.03.03

    HB 1201 is a horrible bill. The only 'good' thing about it is that if a county does decide to change its policies, the zoning board/commissioners will need to have hearings, and their decisions can be referred. That means that zoning regulations can be opened up AND changed. If county residents haven't been watching their papers for zoning board agendas, etc, July 1st is the day to start watching.
    The worst part of this whole process is the political maneuvering by the prime sponsor. I do not like politics.

  11. caheidelberger Post author | 2015.03.03

    Dang, Paul! Now it looks like folks will have to pack the Senate lobby and gallery.

  12. Paul Seamans 2015.03.03

    Kathy, you gave very good testimony as did the other opponents.
    Cory, this legislature/governor doesn't seem to care squat about small farmers or sustainable agriculture. This is just the beginning of problems with CAFO's. Like Kathy my opinion of the prime sponsor is not real high, kind of cocky. The roads to Pierre were snow packed and still the committee room was full, it might be interesting when it makes it's way to the Senate floor.

  13. Disgusted Dakotanb 2015.03.03

    It is NOT limited government for the government to assist private commercial enterprises in depriving private citizens of their private property rights or to put these CAFOs onto the backs of communities to bear the burdens of their costs on the communities.

  14. mike from iowa 2015.03.03

    jerry,your link had that "joules" word in it and wingnuts will say that is French and that is all they need to disregard the entire report. When i said stick to the assignment,i was referring to me,not you or anyone else.

  15. jerry 2015.03.03

    I know mikefromiowa, but I had to take the chance that they may think it a misspelling of jowls and just call me a redneck for that. I have to say that assignment is something that I sometimes stray from and did not take issue with you. I am concerned about this 1201 for many many reasons. The fact that we are loosing our power to determine what is best for our communities is disturbing and looks like another power grab by the corrupted officials. The information to get to the people about the danger of this bill, is non existent except for this blog.

  16. Paul Seamans 2015.03.03

    Jerry, Dakota Rural Action has taken the lead in opposing HB 1201, check out DRA's facebook page. DRA's lobbyist, Sabrina King, probably understands this bill better than its prime sponsor, Mark Mickelson. At todays Senate Ag committee hearing the opponents made a strong case. If this had been a debate I'm sure that Cory would have awarded the trophy to the opponents side. (What's the debate term for the opponents)?

  17. jerry 2015.03.03

    Paul, I am not involved in facebook so I did not know about that information. I am involved with DRA and did get the emails from Ms. King. What I meant was the traditional media and should have said so. Of course, I think this blog is very important and want it to continue with the way it passes information for all to see.

  18. Paul Seamans 2015.03.03

    Jerry, I hear you talking. A real nice paper that covers these sorts of issues is The Native Sun News. They have some very good writers. It is a weekly out of Rapid. They have covered the Keystone XL story and the Powertech/Azarga uranium mining issue in some depth.

  19. jerry 2015.03.03

    Yes, I have read that paper and you are correct, they do a lot of good reporting. This HB 1201 has not been reported on that I can see, but maybe I missed it. Whatever the case may be, we here in South Dakota are poorly informed on what kind of skulduggery is going on around us that affects us all. I fear that because the mantra of the republican is to not raise taxes and to protect property rights have long fooled the public into believing them and then when the sheet is pulled from the crime, it is too late.

  20. Sam @ 2015.03.03

    Nice to see 7 progressive senators who are pro business vote to make this past due action one step closer to law. This bill is not about CAFOS it is about economic development.

    Passage of this bill will create jobs and increase the property tax base for our rural towns, and school districts.

    If you check population growth in rural Iowa, you will find where livestock numbers have increased so has population.

    Prime example is Sioux County Iowa.

  21. jerry 2015.03.03

    Sam@, are you high?

  22. Paul Seamans 2015.03.03

    Sam; what kinds of jobs are created by these CAFO's?Are they the kinds of jobs that you would like to work in? Personally you could not pay me enough to work in a confined hog barn or chicken operation. You mention the increased property tax base. Will enough taxes be collected to pay for the increased services needed? One lady testified today that the local governments don't have the funds needed to repair the damage to the roads caused by increased traffic to the roads. Will their be enough new tax revenue to upgrade water treatment plants? The city of Des Moines is suing upstream counties because of damage to their drinking water. Are these CAFO's simply passing along some of these costs to the next generation?
    I beg to differ with you on your statement that the bill is not about CAFO's. This bill is definitely about CAFO's. The bill will lower the requirement needed for approval of CAFO's from a super majority to a simple majority. All other permits besides CAFO's will still need the super majority.

  23. Sam @ 2015.03.03

    Paul. It was pointed out in testimony today that only 1 percent of the special use permits granted are for,CAFOS. Therefore the date supports my statement.

    You must also look at the off payroll jobs. The jobs created are for, veterinarians, electrical repairman, livestock nutritionists, truckers, feed millers, sales representatives for all supply needs, restruants workers, c store workers, suppliers of all the goods and service needed for the employees. These are in addition to the workers employed at a CAFOS. We would not have three Cheese plants in North east South Dakota with your line of thinking Paul or,John Morrell in Sioux Falls.

    Failure of Agriculture in South Dakota is economic ruin.

  24. Paul Seamans 2015.03.03

    Sam; HB 1201, pure and simple is about the siting of CAFO's. Mark Mickelson did not bring this bill forward in order to make it easier to site an elevator or a veternarian clinic.All the proponent testimony was geared towards CAFO's. The mention of only 1% of special permits being for CAFO's is a red herring. The push will be to increase this 1% to something much higher (if one is to believe this claim of 1%).

  25. Charlie Johnson 2015.03.03

    Again, Sam fails to identify himself/herself!! No identity ---nothing worthwhile to consider.

  26. jerry 2015.03.03

    Where are all of these workers going to come from Sam@? I am puzzled by that. We do not pay enough wages for them to make it and now your party wants to cut food stamps. Your boy Marty has filed a suit against immigration as well. You know as we all do that the only way this thing works is through more corruption fueled by illegal workers. It has nothing to do with real agriculture, only corruption.

  27. Jana 2015.03.04

    Sam, please continue on how John Morrell wouldn't be in Sioux Falls.

    Before CAFO's, John Morrell's did just fine and paid middle class wages for hardback jobs.

    When Morrell's and the rest of the big packing plants decided to bust the unions and make the decision to exploit immigrant labor, what do you think the cost of that was? To the hardback workers, their families and their communities?

    Were there any good jobs at the Stockyards? Livestock buyers, veterinarians, office staff, etc. All jobs and businesses that kept their money in South Dakota.

    Any argument for passing a law that uses creating low wage jobs does not pass muster for a state that used to pride itself on quality of life.

    Sam, be intellectually honest about the growth in population in Sioux County. Can you give us the social and economic demographics of that new population? As the hog lots have grown they have passed the social costs of low wages on to the people who pay for the schools, healthcare systems and social services.

    CAFO's are the Wal-Mart game changers for family farms and small towns, the same way they were for family owned stores. Sure, sales taxes may have gone up, but the human cost is intolerable and the Walton family will pull out without batting an eye and all the sales taxes and jobs will leave. The only difference is that Wal-Mart sells things that locals need. Once the family farm is gone, it will take generations to bring them back

    I have no doubt that the economic statistics can be manipulated to show how big government support for big ag over family farms will boast some big numbers. What they won't show is the actual costs which are passed on to the local citizens.

    Sam, it isn't the failure of agriculture that will be the ruin of South Dakota, it will be the failure of locally based agriculture that ruins South Dakota. You know the people who bank local, invest locally, have the stability to volunteer and are involved in all aspects of their community.

  28. CLCJM 2015.03.04

    I've worked in one of these animal confinement operations many years ago! The conditions were horrific for workers and the chickens in the laying houses. The houses held up to 15K birds, confined 5 or 6 to a wire cage that wouldn't be enough space for one bird to be comfortable. And wire in the bottom of the cage meant that they stood on wire at all times.
    The stench was terrible and in summer it was worse. There were exhaust fans but it was still stifling.
    And the machines that they used to clean the manure gutters below the cages broke down and weren't fixed for weeks! The ammonia levels left our eyes burned and had to be harmful to humans and animals. The pay was miserably low with no benefits and we were often required to work overtime without OT pay.

    They had a lot of injuries, mostly from very unsafe working conditions, and we're upset that their WC insurance was too high so they started denying claims.I'd been there about 6 mo.when I sprained a wrist and missed 10 days of work. They denied my claim and I went job hunting.
    These are hell holes and most people do what I did, they get out ASAP! These are not about farming or even economic development! After EB5 we should look askance at everything they propose! This just more corporate greed and corruption. It's big food/agri-businesses that are behind this and who are the only ones who will benefit!

  29. Paul Seamans 2015.03.04

    "CAFO's are the Walmart..." Jana, I really like the comparison. Can I use that?
    Perhaps "Sam@" is a nom de plume in honor of Sam Walton.

  30. clcjm 2015.03.04

    Most of the increase in our population in the US is from immigration, documented or not, and minorities. We'd better place nice because the tables are turning.

    As far as the right wingers wanting to send all undocumented people "back", they have no intention in doing that. They want them here living in poverty and fear so their businesses can hire them at slave wages and pay no payroll taxes or benefits. It also gives them another reason to attack Obama because he actually DID SOMETHING to help undocumented people. And, Lord knows they don't want to help ANYBODY but the top 1%, which the politicians hope to be one day!

    Now on the other hand if you're a rich Chinese businessman, most likely staunch communist as you have to be to get rich in communist China, you're welcomed with open arms so Rounds and his corporate cronies can rake the millions into their pockets. Guess it's all right for the Chinese to buy up our land and businesses so they can move here but we don't want any hard working people who might pull themselves up by their bootstraps!

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