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CAFO Zoning Bill Advances


A bill that changes the way county zoning is done for Confined Animal Feeding Operations or CAFOs has cleared a State Senate committee.

Those backing House Bill 1140say it keeps South Dakota agriculture competitive but stops red tape and frivolous delays for local approval.  

Opponents say the measure takes away local control and helps corporate farms to push large feedlots into areas where they are unwanted.

Proponents of  House Bill 1140 say it’s needed help South Dakota boost value added agriculture. State Representative Mark Mickelson is a prime sponsor of the bill.   He says the current system is burdensome for anyone who wants to put in a feedlot or other project.

 “We have a process that takes years to resolve, can result in $50-thousand dollars in expense, and to permit a facility is kind of 50-50 odds. And that process means anyone that wants to try to permit a project doesn’t try.  Because who can take on permitting a project that takes that long, costs that much with only 50-50 odds, says Mickelson.  

The bill changes some of the requirements and appeal process for a project to gain zoning approval.. Proponents say because of delays some proposed feedlots aren’t even given a hearing.  But opponents say the bill goes too far.    Dean Lockner is a multi-generation rancher from Hand County.  He testifies that the bill robs the public of the protection provided under zoning regulations.

“Without a public notice we would not have known that a 65-thousand head feedlot requested a conditional use permit by our ranch.  The manure stack would have been 10 feet high by 20 feet wide almost a mile long each month right across the road.   This would have destroyed out quality of life had it been approved,” says Lockner.

Proponents refute the notion that this takes away public notice, the point to a ten day notice requirement for a public hearing.    But opponents question the idea that allowing more large feedlots is a way keep young people in the state. They cite livestock pollution in waterways like the Big Sioux River.   Members of the Senate State Affairs Committee passed the measure by a vote of 6 to 3 it heads next to the full Senate.

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