Weekly Legislative Update

Dakota Rural Action Weekly Legislative Update

We’re closing in on the final stretch of session, which means it’s more important than ever to pay attention to what’s happening in Pierre. “Shell” bills that were previously empty of content are being filled with potentially concerning legislation, and bad bills introduced at the last minute are being scheduled in rapid succession. Please do not hesitate to call or e-mail your legislators to voice your concerns. Remember, they work for you!

If you are interested in coming to the Capitol to testify–even if you have never done so before–please feel free to contact me. Dakota Rural Action is a member-led organization, and our staff is ready and willing to help with logistics of developing testimony, finding your committee meeting room, and even securing accommodations for an overnight stay if needed. Your voice is needed now more than ever.


Rebecca Terk
DRA Lobbyist in Pierre
(605) 697-5204 x260


DRA members Kathy Tyler (right) and Kristi Mogen traveled to Pierre this week to testify against HB 1187, which undermines citizens’ right to appeal Conditional Use Permit (CUP) decisions by local Boards of Adjustment.


This bill is an attempt to undermine citizens’ right to appeal a Conditional Use Permit decision by their local Board of Adjustment. This should be especially concerning to those fighting CAFO expansions in their communities. It is being pitched by sponsor Rep. Jason Kettwig (R-Milbank) as a “local control” friendly bill because it keeps virtually ALL authority to make final CUP decisions with Boards of Adjustment–and CUTS OUT virtually all pathways to appeal by citizens.

Yesterday in House Local Government Committee, Dakota Rural Action member and former State Legislator Kathy Tyler testified that “Citizens want a voice in how their neighborhoods are run; this bill puts the final nail in the coffin of that voice.” Also testifying in opposition were DRA member Kristi Mogen and lobbyist Rebecca Terk. Nevertheless, the bill passed out of committee on a party-line vote. WE NEED MANY MORE VOICES OPPOSING THIS BILL.

SB 135SD Stockgrowers’ Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) bill for beef passed Senate State Affairs with strong proponent testimony from producers, Dakota Rural Action, Farmers Union, SD Stockgrowers, and others. The bill was amended in committee to reduce the penalty for a retailer’s non-compliance from a Class 2 misdemeanor to a petty offense.


SD Stockgrowers Executive Director (and former DRA lobbyist!) Silvia Christen chats with producers following passage of SB 135–the Country of Origin Labeling bill–through Senate State Affairs Committee on Wednesday.

HB 1204 This bill allows for the set-up of a pilot program for the production and sale of industrial hemp along the lines of a similar program set up in North Dakota last year. Proponent testimony was given by the sponsor, Rep. Liz May (R-Kyle) and Dakota Rural Action. Opponents included Law Enforcement, the Sheriff’s Association, and the Department of Agriculture, which would be responsible for running the program. Despite that opposition, House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee members, noting the current price of corn and the need for more diverse commodity opportunities, supported the bill on a 9-2 vote and sent it to the House floor for what is likely to be a lively discussion there.

Dakota Rural Action has been following and supporting the Riparian Buffer Strip Incentive Program Bill (SB 66) as it makes its way through the process. It has already passed through the Senate Ag Committee and the Senate floor, and yesterday passed the House Taxation Committee on its way to its final vote on the House floor, where it is likely to succeed and be signed into law.

SB 136The Certified Professional Midwife licensure bill brought by SD Birth Matters. Because it sets up a new board and licensing process, it needed ⅔ vote–which it got on the Senate floor this week. Now it goes to the House Health & Human Services Committee, but is not yet scheduled as of Friday. 2/17.

SB 114 is the Spearfish Canyon Land Swap bill that comes with a $2.5 million pricetag for the acquisition of lands from the U.S. Forest Service as well as an emergency clause that prohibits referral by voters. This bill was strongly opposed by Black Hills residents, and by DRA’s Black Hills Chapter. It was tabled in Joint Appropriations this week and by all reports is unlikely to be brought back this session.

SB 176 started out as a “shell” or empty bill entitled, ”Accommodate Legislation Relating to the Protection of Public Safety.” An article posted late yesterday in the Argus Leader has alerted us to an amendment proving that this is a move to enhance the governor’s powers to declare a “public safety zone” during protests wherein protesters could be charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor if they cross into the created “public safety zone”–and is specifically targeted against the potential for protests against the KXL pipeline. It will be heard on Wednesday in Senate State Affairs.

HB 1188–Another shell bill about accommodating “legislation to promote agricultural development.” Based on the sponsors, this bill is also concerning. We are watching it, and it will be heard in House Appropriations on Tuesday.

Thank you for your support during this legislative session.
Our ability to keep a full-time lobbyist in Pierre is 100% funded by member donations.
Please consider making a contribution to our legislative fund today!

ACTION ALERT: Protect Your Right to Appeal CAFO Siting Decisions


HB 1187 may have dire implications for those fighting CAFO sitings and other unwanted developments that negatively impact family farms, homes, and communities. It was scheduled today, and is being heard in the House Local Government Committee TOMORROW (Thursday, 2/16) at 10am in Room 414 at the Capitol.

As DRA member Kathy Tyler states in her upcoming testimony: “Citizens want a voice in how their neighborhoods are run, this bill puts the final nail in the coffin of that voice. HB1187 takes away any and all local control of how conditional use permits are handled. If a county or city wants to have public input, maybe even wants to offer the ability to refer a conditional use permit, they will not be able to do so with this bill.”

This is a VERY dangerous piece of legislation for those who value local control, and it needs to be stopped. Contact the members of the House Local Government Committee TODAY.

House Local Government Committee Members
(click on the name for contact information)
** indicates the Representative is also a sponsor of the bill

Conzet, Kristin, Chair
Greenfield, Lana
Jamison, Greg
**Kettwig, Jason
Marty, Sam
**Otten, Herman
Reed, Tim
Schoenfish, Kyle
Smith, Jamie
Soli, Karen
**Tulson, Burt , Vice Chair
**Turbiville, Charles
York, Nancy

As always, we welcome Dakota Rural Action members to come and testify in person.
Please let us know if you are planning to attend this important hearing.

Rebecca Terk
DRA Lobbyist in Pierre
(605) 697-5204 x260

HB 1140: Taking Last Year’s HB 1201 and Making It Worse

by Catherine Carter

(Note: This is part three in a series on HB 1140. Part one is here, and part two is here.)

HB 1140 is up for a hearing in House Local Government Thursday, February 11, at 10am CT. Email legislators on the committee and ask them to vote NO:

Section 4 of HB 1140 refers last year’s HB 1201, which lowered the minimum vote required for county boards of adjustment to approve conditional use permits. In the past, 2/3 of the members of the board of adjustment were required, by state law, to approve a conditional use permit (required for CAFOs, etc.). However, last year the legislature passed an amendment (HB1201) that allowed counties to change their ordinance so that only a simple majority is required. The problem with allowing a simple majority to approve a conditional use is that there is no appeal of a board of adjustment decision at the county level. The board of adjustment is considered a quasi-judicial board. Its members are appointed (by the county commissioners), not elected. Board of adjustment decisions are considered administrative. Unlike county commission decisions, board of adjustment decisions are not referable, and cannot be appealed to the county commission. Appeals can only be made to the district court, and in board of adjustment cases the court only evaluates whether the board made any errors of procedure (writ of certiorari standard), not whether they failed to consider important evidence or made an error of judgment. So the standard for board of adjustment decisions was justifiably set higher than for an elected board.

So far, most counties have not adopted the simple-majority rule. If they were to do so, such an amendment to the ordinance would have to be passed by the county commissioners, with a public hearing and the right to referendum; unless, as provided by the change to SDCL 11-2-30 as specified in HB1140 Section 1 (above), they decide to characterize such a change as “minor”.

In some counties, the county commission also serves as the board of adjustment. Section 5 of HB 1140 confirms that when that is the case, the exceptions allowing a simple majority vote etc. (in 11-2-59) would apply to them as well.

The HB1140 amendments in Sections 7 through 9 are essentially the same as those above, but apply to municipalities, prohibiting appeals of “ministerial acts” (11-4-19, 11-4-20), and restricting the right to appeal a board of adjustment decision to citizens who are aggrieved, and requiring a $250 bond, etc. (11-4-25).

HB 1140: What is it, and why is it bad?

by Catherine Carter

(This is the first post in a series that will be posted here throughout the week.)

House Bill 1140 is a bill that would change laws governing county and city zoning. HB 1140 affects how counties amend their zoning ordinances, and whether citizens can participate in some of those decisions; restricts citizens’ rights to appeal decisions by the zoning officer and board of adjustment (which grants conditional uses and variances); limits the kinds of decisions that can be appealed; and adds additional costs and other requirements to the appeal procedure. HB 1140 also makes the same types of changes for municipalities (towns and cities). This post discusses the likely effects of some of the changes proposed by HB 1140.

HB 1140 Section 1 adds five words (underlined) to the first line of SDCL 11-2-30: “After the hearing, the board shall by resolution or ordinance, as appropriate, either adopt or reject the amendment, supplement, change, modification, or repeal, with or without minor amendment.” Currently, county commissions are required to hold public hearings before adopting or changing the zoning ordinance, and they cannot change the ordinance afterwards. This HB 1140 amendment to 11-2-30 would allow the county commissioners to change the ordinance by making minor amendments to it without a public hearing or public input on the changes. The use of the term “minor amendment” sounds innocuous; after all, who wants to quibble over a few minor amendments to a long, detailed county zoning document? The concern is with who decides what is “minor”? Apparently, the commissioners themselves.

Last year in Turner County, following ordinance updates with public hearings, as appropriate, the county commission passed the revised ordinance, but then decided to reduce the setbacks (the minimum distance of an operation from residences, municipalities, schools, etc.) upon the recommendation of an owner who wanted to build a chicken concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO) on land that would otherwise have been too close to town http://www.argusleader.com/story/news/2015/09/29/chicken-farm-opponents-win-court/73030634/ . Turner county citizens protested the setback reduction and appealed the board’s decision in court. The challenge was successful because under current law (11-2-30), the commissioners cannot change the ordinance at all, even by “minor amendment,” without a public hearing. HB 1140 would allow the county commissioners to make similar “minor” changes to an ordinance without a hearing. Indeed, the argument made by the Turner county commission was that “the changes adopted after discussion of the Sonstegard fax did not constitute substantial changes.” http://www.argusleader.com/story/news/2016/01/13/turner-county-deadlocks-animal-rules/78688050/

As Judge Bjorkman wrote in his decision on the Turner County case, the changes in the ordinance imposed by the commissioners without public hearing “contravened basic notions of due process and the specific dictates of South Dakota law by depriving property owners and the public of a meaningful opportunity to be heard as to the business its government was considering.” http://www.argusleader.com/story/news/2015/09/29/chicken-farm-opponents-win-court/73030634/   HB 1140 would legitimize similar actions by all county commissions and make such contravention of citizens’ rights an integral component of South Dakota law.

The last line of SDCL 11-2-30 refers to SDCL 11-2-22, which allows citizens to petition for a referendum on any changes to the ordinance, following a public hearing and vote by the county commission, and publication of the decision. Would citizens retain this right as their only recourse to object to any “minor” amendments the commissioners choose to make, if HB 1140 is passed? Or, would the HB 1140 exception for “minor amendments” preclude those changes from referral? This is unclear.

We Need to Protect Our Resources Now

by Robin EH. Bagley

I recently read an article about Stephen Hawking’s prediction that we (as in humans) are taking our species to the brink and will need to colonize space in the next 1,000 – 10,000 years in order to avoid extinction. Sounds crazy, right?

Before you break out the tinfoil hats, let’s think about who Stephen Hawking is. He’s often called the Einstein of our times, one of the pre-eminent physicists in the world, has an IQ of 160, and has studied the beginnings of the universe. So when he talks, I think it’s worthwhile to listen.

Lest we think we have at least 1,000 years to get this all figured out, Hawking warns us that the next 100 years will be crucial for humans to survive long enough to figure out how to live in space. Now 100 years doesn’t seem so far away, does it? My grandmother turns 100 this year, so we can say that it’s really a lifetime we have left to solve some pretty big problems.

We can’t all work on how to colonize space, but we can all work on how not to kill ourselves off in the next few hundred years. Personally, I think that’s just common sense.

There are many ways, large and small, that people like you and me right here in South Dakota can make a difference for our kids, grandkids and beyond. Let’s start with protecting our natural resources for future generations rather than sacrificing them to extractive energy companies and big ag. We know that there’s tremendous potential for solar power here, but most of utility companies and our state government, legislature included, can’t be bothered to remove the barriers that would make it easier for South Dakotans to invest in solar for their homes and businesses. Net metering anyone?

In case we forget, South Dakota is one of just seven states without net metering, so we’re behind the curve. We see cities and utilities in other states making leaps forward in renewable energy, solar and otherwise, but because of our regressive climate, those things aren’t happening here. We’re part of the problem, not the solution. In Spain and Italy companies are exploring incorporating wind turbines into existing structures, such as bridges. In Portland, the city has started generating electricity in some of its water pipes. Yes, hydro power in city water mains – genius!

And while we’re on the subject of water, let’s remember that water is necessary for human life. The human body can exist for about three weeks without food but only three or four days without water. Let’s stop ruining our water. That South Dakota’s water is pristine is a myth. Go grab a glass of water out of the Big Sioux and drink it. It’s the 13th dirtiest river in the nation. Yum.

Recall that the Big Sioux basin is where the state would like to concentrate new confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs), mostly large dairies. This further endangers the river; it’s the opposite of protecting it. On the other side of the state, the Madison aquifer is threatened by in-situ leach uranium mining. Radioactive water will not turn us all into Spiderman (yes, I know he was bitten by a radioactive spider, but you get the gist). If we think we can count on our state or federal government to protect our water, I have two words: Flint, Michigan.

In the interests of keeping humans around for a few thousand more years, we need to clean up our act. Let’s get busy with renewable energy and stop peeing in our own pool. Personally, I like Earth and think it could be nice if we could stay.

Weekend Special: The Hidden Costs of CAFOs

by Bill Powers

An unfortunately old report (http://www.ucsusa.org/sites/default/files/legacy/assets/documents/food_and_agriculture/cafos-uncovered.pdf, 2008) by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) asks why is it that CAFO numbers are increasing dramatically. They argue studies by the USDA indicate that CAFOs are no more efficient than medium sized operations. Instead they suggest that the benefit CAFOs accrue are due to farm policy, among these including processing contracts. Most CAFOs rely almost exclusively upon purchased feed. Alternative livestock operations will rely much more upon their own pasture and crop production. As such, the significant Federal subsidy for grain production indirectly favors CAFO operations.

UCS (2008) estimates are that there is a $3.86 billion/year grain subsidy to the livestock industry by crop subsidies. Other indirect costs that they consider are reductions in property values ($26 billion), and manure remediation costs $4.1 billion totals as of 2008. These external costs are paid for by the US taxpayer.

Optimum efficiency (cost/unit of production) is reached well below CAFO (2008 measures) size. They argue that studies have shown that economies of scale is not a signifcant factor favoring larger livestock operations. Fro example, one study showed that the optimal size for hogs was about 120 sows, producing about 2400 hogs/year. CAFOs do benefit from the more efficient use of fodder for weight gain since it is not expended in moving around pastures or adjusting to changes in climate. These gains, however, have to be offset by considerable increases in other costs. After all, the much higher cost of creating and maintaining CAFO environmentally controlled buildings, in addition to the added cost associated with animal health and manure management have to be offset somehow. The UCS argues that this is primarily offset by low grain costs. They note:

Low-cost inputs spread the high fixed costs of confinement infrastructure
(such as the buildings that contain the animals) over many units of production. CAFOs can compensate for low profit margins per animal by producing large numbers of animals. By contrast, small and diversified producers often have relatively lower fixed costs and higher variable costs, and may attempt to lower their costs by reducing production when prices are low. In this way, CAFOs may expand at the expense of smaller operations.

In effect, then, it is the US taxpayer who is indirectly subsidizing CAFOs. The UCS argue that there are alternative livestock operations that may be more efficient than either CAFOs or medium sized farms. Because of the significant external costs to CAFOs, it would seem that seeking such alternatives are well worth pursuing by publicly funded institutions.

The UCS consider, too, the affect of anti-competitive processing practices, a violation of the Packers and Stockyard Act (PSA). Processing facilities require governmental inspections. It may be that this requirement favors larger processing facilities. With the concentration of processing in the hands of a few, and contract relationships between larger producers and processing facilities favored, access of medium sized livestock operations to consumers is hampered, even when their production costs are competitive. This situation favors both the concentration of processing facilities and livestock operations.

What needs to be asked is why processing operations favor contract relationships with larger livestock operations. We could imagine that there might be vertical integration gains if the processing facilities owned their own livestock operations. While this is the case for some, it is not generally true. One possible problem is that while the cost/unit of production is the same (or even better) for smaller operations, they may require a higher marginal profit to remain in business than a CAFO. A small farmer might be able to competitively produce a profit of $10,000, but could not remain in business long because of external costs, viz., himself and family. A larger operation, employing more people, can simply lay off a whole person. I’m not being overly clear here, but it does seem that large facilities may be able to survive at a lower margin of profit than a smaller unit.

In any case, it appears that for the most part it is only the largest producers than sell their produce under contract.

Since feed costs represent something like 50% of the cost for CAFOs, they are sensitive to feed costs. To determine the subsidy to CAFOs through crop support programs, one would have to be able to determine what the cost of grains would have been without such supports. Starmer and Wise (http://www.ase.tufts.edu/gdae/Pubs/wp/07-04LivingHighOnHog.pdf, 2007) examine the cost of production of beans and corn and the market price of both. Because of Federal supports make up the difference to keep farmers solvent, the Federal subsidy enables CAFOs to purchase grain at a cost below the cost of production, an advantage that a livestock producer who grows his own grain and pastures his livestock cannot take advantage of. Starmer and Wise estimate that between 1998 and 2005 this translated into about a 15% savings in costs for hog CAFOs. Smaller sized livestock operations that produced their own grains after 1990 can also take advantage of these subsidies even if they do not sell the grain. However, studies have shown that the subsidies do not fully compensate farmers for the difference between production costs and market prices. As a result, there is a “subsidy gap,” one that benefits the CAFO and disadvantages the smaller livestock producer.

There are a number of issues that are worth investigating with regard to commodity prices and CAFOs. It would be interesting to find out what has happened to this “subsidy gap” since 2007. Farmers who rely upon these supports might simply argue for higher supports. By reducing this gap, it would help the smaller livestock producer. The recent bump in corn prices due to increased ethanol production dramatically increased corn prices. It would be worthwhile to consider at what commodity price the operation of CAFO style production would be less profitable than a livestock operation that grows its own feed.

Well enough said and researched for now.

The DENR’s Report to the Legislature

At the beginning of the legislative session, each administrative department gives a report to the corresponding legislative committee. Thursday, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources presented to the House and Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committees.

The paper copy of the report is below. Largely, there are three takeaways:

  1. The DENR continues to take on more work without raising the budget or additional employees. Generally speaking this is a good thing; however, we’ve run into instances where the DENR has said things like “we don’t have the expertise to regulate uranium mining,” and then allowed the legislature to hand over control of waste disposal wells to the EPA. Hiring additional expertise is not always a bad thing, particularly when it allows the state to have more local control.
  2. And on that note, takeaway #2 is the litany of grievances the DENR has against the Federal government and its agencies (like the EPA) for what it sees as over-regulation. There is certainly some truth to this, but one must question unquestioned resistance to Federal regulation. One example: Secretary Pirner stated in the hearings, and states on page 17 of the report below, that there is no reason for South Dakota to do perchlorate testing in ground water because it isn’t a problem in this state. However, percholrates were found in groundwater in 2005 and in soil tests in 2008. So clearly it is something that exists in South Dakota, yet the DENR maintains we should be exempt from the rule.
  3. The third takeaway has to do with the development of the CAFO general permit, the one the DENR has not updated since it expired in 2008. The DENR maintains it was waiting for the “dust to settle from litigation” before they updated SD’s general permit, though the most recent significant challenge to the revised CAFO rules passed in 2008 was settled back in 2011. Whatever the reason, the DENR did not begin the process of updating SD’s general permit until 2015.In April, the DENR brought together “interested parties” to start talking about updating the permit. Despite knowing Dakota Rural Action and the SD Farmer’s Union would be interested in participating in the process, neither organization was invited to the discussions. What that resulted in was Dakota Rural Action intervening in the process when it finally went public (long after the DENR had spoken to who knows what other “interested parties”). Unfortunately, DRA’s lawyer had a conflict with the date set by the DENR, a date set without discussing options for a hearing date with any of the parties, and DRA requested a later date in a Motion to Continue. This is relatively standard procedure, and considering DRA was not invited to participate in previous discussions about the general permit, it would have been inappropriate for the DENR to not grant DRA’s motion.Despite those facts, the statements put forth by the DENR strongly suggest DRA was unprepared and is responsible for the DENR not meeting its goal of approving a new general permit in 2015. To the contrary, had DRA been involved in discussions from the beginning, it is highly likely there would be a current CAFO general permit in South Dakota. The organization has been pushing for well over a year for the DENR to update their permit; unfortunately, though the DENR knew that, DRA and its farmer and rancher members were shut out of the process.

You can listen to the presentation given to the House here and the Senate here. And for your enjoyment, here is the report:

DENR Report

CAFO bill #3 up tomorrow – losing local control

CAFO bill #3 is up

House Local Government will vote on HB 1201 Thursday, February 19, at 10amCT in room 414

Great news – two out of three bad CAFO bills have been killed by the legislature. But there is still one left, and it might just be the worst of the bunch. HB 1201 takes away local control, makes approval of CAFOs easier, and would spell disaster for many of our communities concerned about public input and involvement in CAFO decisions.

HB 1201 is up in the House Local Government Committee in less than 24 hours. Please email the committee before Thursday morning at 10amCT! Make sure to say in the subject line “Vote against HB 1201.” If you are a farmer, rancher, or in any way involved in the agriculture industry, please tell these representatives so they get the message: we are not opposed to agriculture development – but this is the wrong way to do it.


CAFOs, family farms, and our unique way of life

The South Dakota Legislature has introduced three bills designed to chill citizens participation in local zoning decisions, make it easier for Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) to get approval from County Boards of Adjustment, and remove the Family Farm Act restrictions to corporate ownership of hog operations.

These bills reflect the state’s push to site more CAFOs in eastern South Dakota, a policy that plays loose and fast with our water, air, and quality of life. As the citizens of this state, we do not support these measures. Moreover, we do not support any measure that removes or makes more difficult citizen involvement in our government, whether it is through challenging decisions made by counties or by citizen initiative on a state-wide level.

We are asking the legislature to reject the following bills. Please click here to sign our open letter to stop these bills:

HB 1173 – Introduced by Representative Qualm (R-21) and Senator Cammack (R-29), this bill would penalize citizens appealing land zoning decisions seen as frivolous. Since courts already have the authority to award damages in frivolous or malicious suits (SDCL 15-17-51), this bills is clearly targeted at preventing citizens from challenging zoning decisions made in their county.

SB 127 – Introduced by Senator Rusch (R-17) and Representative Rasmussen (R-17), this bill would create an exemption to South Dakota law allowing non-family farm corporations to own and operate hog confinements in South Dakota.

HB 1201 – Introduced by Representative Mickelson (R-13) and Senator Cammack (R-29), this bill would reduce the number of votes needed on a county board of adjustment to allow a conditional use permit from 4 out of 5 to 3 out of 5, making it easier for CAFOs to get these permits and move forward. Dakota Rural Action supports family agriculture, and we believe community members should be encouraged to participate in decisions that will affect their water, air, and quality of life.

“These three bills are intended to increase the number of CAFOs, especially hog CAFOs run by outside corporations; lower the standards used by county boards in voting on conditional use permits for CAFOs; and deter citizens from exercising their already severely limited opportunities for recourse,” says Dakota Rural Action member and farmer Nancy Kirstein. “The result will be increasing pressure on the water supplies, increased pollution of water and air, decreased quantity and quality of resources for South Dakota farmers and residents, and degradation of the environment.”

Confined Animal Feeding Operations


  • Most of the environmental concerns come from the makeup and amount of manure produced by Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO).
    • Large farms can produce more waste than some U.S. cities.  For example a CAFO with 800,000 pigs could produce over 1.6 million tons of waste per year.  More than 1.5 times the annual sanitary waste production of the city of Philadelphia, PA. (1)
    • The contamination of both surface water and groundwater are concerns for citizens facing the siting of new CAFO’s.  These concerns should demand the stringent oversight of both federal and state agencies.  In 2005 the Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a report finding two major flaws with the EPA’s efforts to regulate CAFO’s
      • allowing an estimated 60% of animal feeding operations to go unregulated.
      • A lack of federal oversight of state governments to insure they are adequately implementing required federal regulations for CAFO’s (2)


  • CAFO’s focus on short term economic gain for the few at the expense of long term gain for the community.  University of Missouri Professor Emeritus John Ikerd, says “There is no short run economic benefits for investing in healthy rural communities. … there is no short run economic benefits from protecting the natural environment.”(3)
  • Studies going back to 1978 have shown that the economic concentration of agricultural operations tends to remove a higher percentage of money from rural communities than communities where agriculture is in the hands of smaller farms. (4)

Developer’s Agenda

  • South Dakota Government and CAFO developers are pushing hard for the creation of new CAFO’s in eastern South Dakota.  These three bills are part of a larger body of work focused on the fast, short term economic gains these developments offer at the expense of the long term health of our state, our communities and our people.


1. Government Accountability Office , Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations: USEPA Needs More Information and a Clearly Defined Strategy to Protect Air and Water Quality from Pollutants of Concern, GAO-08-944, (Sept. 2008)

2. Government Accountability Office, Livestock Market Reporting: USDA has Taken Some Steps to Ensure Quality but Additional Efforts are Needed. GAO-06-202 (Dec. 2005)

3. Presentation at Annual Meeting of Jefferson County Farmers and Neighbors Inc. Fairield, IA October 7, 2009.  http://web.missouri.edu/ikerdj/papers/Fairfield%20IA%20-%20Economics%20of%20CAFOs.htm

4. Goldschmidt W. 1978 Agribusiness and the rural community. In as You Sow: three Studies in the Social Consequence of Agribusiness.

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