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 Suggestions for the Task Force.

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joelie hicks
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PostSubject: Suggestions for the Task Force.   Wed Apr 28, 2010 8:55 am

I have spent over two years studying the cafo issues and their impact on their neighbors and economic development. Almost always, the quality of living goes down for the community as a whole. Almost always, the prospect of such places, as well as the actual existence of them divides their communities. If these places were truly so wonderful, so family friendly, so great for the community, why is it usually necessary for them to bully their way into an area?


In our area, most owners/managers have chosen to live far away from their work, or if they begin by living on site, they ultimately choose to change that as soon as they are able.



This is one of the big differences between a factory farm and a family farm. Most owners of manufacturing plants do not live in the area where their factories produce their products. So it is in the case of factory farming. Most family farmers live on the place where their goods are produced.



Being a member of a farm family, we get quite a few conventional farm type magazines. We also subscribe to a few other, eco/ag type publications. I read them all.


No matter how wonderful the technology, some problems will be addressed only by increasing the distance between them and their neighbors. I hope the Task Force will consider recommending an increased setback in Grant County, and that the Commissioners would accept the recommendation. It would make for friendlier feelings between the citizenry and the local government. If the opposition is unhappy with that decision, they can do what we did. Gather the signatures of 5% of the registered voters and bring it to a vote. Then each side can give it their best shot and let the voters decide what they feel is best for our community. Okay, back to reality...we know that that will not happen in this universe.


That said, I hope the Task Force will consider the following ideas, if they have not already done so.

  • ]It is important the county should have hydrogen sulfide standards as well as a hydrogen sulfide meter. It could be made available to those who have a problem with odor. South Dakota stands out because they do not address this on the state level. Grant County could lead the way. To breathe hydrogen sulfide above a certain level is extremely dangerous, especially for children and the elderly. In MN, neighbors of a cafo were advised to leave their homes until the levels went down.
  • There should be accountability for failing to follow standards set forth in a cafo permit. One of the problems right now is that there are no repercussions for failure to adhere to permit standards. Failure to operate in the manner permitted should have definite disciplines, be put in writing, and be regarded as a legal contract with the County. The cafo should be required to have a bond to cover any problems. Including failure or pollution of their neighbor’s wells.
  • It was a good idea for those in the task force to have attended the cafo workshop. It is recommended for anyone who has livestock, whether they operate a cafo or not. My husband has taken this class.
  • The idea has been put forth to require more acreage for those who want to build a home in Grant County. We hope that that idea will not be part of the recommendations of this group. Codington County is exploring the idea of reducing the number of acres required for a building site, noting it would be good for economic development.

The study group should remember that SDDENR permitted the Veblen East and Veblen West cafos. The pollution those cafos have caused is well documented in aerial photos. SDDENR needs to explain why a cafo, especially of this size, should have been permitted so close to the Little Minnesota. Also SDDENR and the State of SD as well as the County have been slow to follow up on complaints. When a complaint was reported in Grant County it took the SDDENR nearly 72 hours to arrive. A lot of damage can occur in 72 hours. If a County agency can address this sooner, residents should be made aware of this and given the phone number and contact person of the agency.

The permits should also demand that the workplace is as safe as possible and that all workers are documented. This is for the safety and protection of the workers. To hire undocumented workers is illegal and Owners and Operators who do so are criminals, we need the backing of the County Government to fine the owners who are not in compliance.

No matter what the task force chooses to recommend, if there is no enforcement or financial repercussions for failure to comply, their hard work will be a waste of time.
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PostSubject: Re: Suggestions for the Task Force.   Wed Apr 28, 2010 9:40 pm

I am curious as to what the issues are and you have given a good outline of what the people are asking the Commissioners to do.

1. Have proper setbacks. You do not specify what distance you want the setbacks to be. What do you consider a safe distance?

2. Have a safe standard for Hydrogen Sulfide levels. This is a good idea. Is there an agency or study which identifies what is safe?

4. Have a meter available to use. This could be portable and they could check various locations with one that is portable.

5. Have a consequence for failing to adhere to the CAFO permit standards. This is also a reasonable thing to do. If there are no consequences then they can do whatever they please. Your permit is ineffective.

6. The CAFO should have a bond to cover any problems.

7. The committee members should attend a CAFO workshop. It sounds like a good idea to make sure that those making the decision is well informed but who puts on the workshop?

8. Your reference to more acreage for building homes is confusing. Does that have anything to do with the CAFO's or is it a side issue that the committee is addressing. Are you for it or against it?

9. Those agency's responsible for monitoring and overseeing the CAFO should be quick to respond to complaints and act on them.

These requests seem reasonable to me. I must be honest and admit my impression was that the people who opposed the CAFO's wanted to get rid of them. The Concerned Citizens of Grant County has only one focus. Setbacks. It is unfortunate that they have been given a black eye and undeserved labels. Why wouldn't the Committee set up by the Grant County Commissioners be willing to do this? They are not being asked to ban all CAFO's. Only take reasonable precautions.

This website has several videos on the CAFO in CAFO video of Knife River After seeing how the CAFO had such a negative impact on the people living near it and the high levels of hydrogen sulfide they would have to take into account the public safety.

_________________

Our citizens may be deceived for awhile, and have been deceived;
but as long as the presses can be protected,
we may trust to them for light.
- Thomas Jefferson
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