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Permitting Poop: Groups Want More Say In Feedlot Regulations


Feedlots and chicken farms can create tons of manure, literally.
Now some environmental and industry groups are crying foul over a state government permitting process that governs how large animal confinement operations deal with all that waste.
The South Dakota Department of Environment and Natural Resources is reviewing its regulations for hog farms, dairies, feedlots, and chicken farms where thousands of animals can be grown in a single location.
Some groups want stricter regulations to protect air and water resources from pollution.  But those with the DENR say they have policies that give everyone a fair say in this process.

The current criteria for permitting a major hog farm, dairy, or feedlot were set in 2003. But, Kathy Tyler, a former Democratic State Representative with the group Dakota Rural Acton says times have changed, back then she says farms were smaller.
“Now you’re looking at 10-thousand cow diaries, hog farms that have 65-hundred hogs and have 144-thousand babies a year,” says Tyler.   “You’re looking at one million hen poultry farms. So those are the things that have changed since 2003,” she adds.
Tyler the regulations are supposed to be updated every 5 years, she says the process is long overdue.  She also says some agriculture and conservation groups, like Dakota Rural Action and the Farmers Union were not at the table in the initial drafting of the new rules.   
“You know you’re looking at the Big Sioux River in eastern part of South Dakota is one of the dirtiest rivers in the United States.  We have so many streams that do not support a fish population that you can’t swim in anymore and these are some of the things that need to be addressed in the application.   
But those with the State Department of Environment and Natural Resources say they also care about protecting the environment.  They say the process of drafting these new rules is transparent and open to all groups.  Kent Woodmansey oversees feedlot permit program for the DENR.  
“This is the same process we used when we drafted the permit last time. The permit is still a draft, it’s still in the informal process.  There is still changes being made to it.  So, it’s not a final product yet,” says Woodmansey.   
Woodmansey says groups like DRA are being invited to the table.   He adds that the public will also have a chance to comment on the new regulations in an upcoming series of meetings.