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Anti-CAFO Info Session to Discuss Waverly Dairy Wednesday Night in Watertown

With four lawsuits currently challenging Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations in the I-29 corridor, South Dakotans might be interested in hearing the other side of Governor Daugaard’s unmitigated boosterism of mega-dairies. To that end, come to Watertown tomorrow (Wednesday) evening for an informational session on CAFOs:

Citizens Against Waverly Dairy, poster for info session on mega-dairies, Watertown, South Dakota, 2015.08.19

Waverly Dairy opponents and the Socially Responsible Agricultural Project are hosting this info session at the Watertown Event Center (attached to the Ramkota on the west edge of town August 19 at 7 p.m. Speakers include…

  • Roger Foote | Coordinator, Upper Big Sioux River Watershed Project
  • Mitch Peterson | Attorney, Davenport, Evans, Hurwitz & Smith LLP
  • Laura Krebsbach | Field coordinator, Socially Responsible Agricultural Project
  • Donna Williams | Tribal activist, Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate Tribe

These speakers will discuss what should be obvious: that crowding 4,900 cattle onto Willow Creek, at the top of the Big Sioux River watershed, is a bad idea for water quality and recreation along the river.

Hmm… I wonder which would provide more net economic benefit: another mega-dairy polluting the Big Sioux, or a 225-mile river recreation path that would draw visitors from around the country to see South Dakota’s natural beauty?


  1. mike from iowa 2015-08-18

    About 5 miles east of me is City View Farms,a 10,000 head dairy heifer raising,family owned outfit that raises heifers for local dairies. About 10 miles east of CVF is Royal Beef. They have two large cafos,each holds 2800 head of beef cattle. Across the road to the east and is another feelot that can hold several hundred head of cattle and there is a third building about 5 miles north that holds even more beef cattle. All these operations are alongside and/or up above creeks that flow into my beloved Little Sioux River.(except the northern most building of RB)

  2. Porter Lansing 2015-08-18

    Knowing full well that anecdotes don’t create data, may I say that when I was farming (in the late 60’s and early 70’s) it was near Waverly and along Willow Creek. A more pristine piece of South Dakota you’ll rarely find. To see the watershed polluted by cattle waste would be of little benefit to the voters and even less to the ecosystem. Has Mayor Thorson offered worthwhile direction, recently?

  3. Kathy Tyler 2015-08-18

    The Watertown City Council had a ‘working session’ last night to discuss the CAFO issue. Both sides presented. It basically boils down to good and bad managers. Their concern is the run-off. There was nothing said about the millions of gallons of manure spread on the fields without any regulation. Will Brookings and Sioux Falls be in the same situation as Des Moines? It may take a few years, but it can happen.

  4. Deb Geelsdottir 2015-08-18

    Ugh. Mike that sounds like a disgusting, smelly area.

    I wish more than good luck to those groups fighting against the CAFOs.

  5. Lynn 2015-08-18

    South Dakotans should take a field trip to Minnesota and especially Iowa sometime and see what CAFOs and drain tile have done to their lakes, rivers and streams. Swimming or fishing? Not advised. Taxpayers in cities are billed more for additional filtration because their water supplies are more polluted due to AG practices. Private wells out in the country? Many are contaminated and cost prohibitive to properly filter and use.

    New Ulm is a beautiful city but with the Minnesota River running thru it it’s not advisable for swimming being one of the most polluted in the nation. What’s that old saying “Privatizing profits and socializing losses”?

    Clean water being our most precious resource.

  6. Sam@ 2015-08-18

    I wonder if these people will have any science to back their allegations. As we seen in the Supreme Court decision of the Grant County Concerned Citizens you must prove your allegations. These opponents seem to be big on talk and low on facts.

    Interesting as reported to the Codington County Commissioners the City of Watertown is one of the biggest polluters on the Sioux River.

    Roger Foote is also the same guy that presented data to the Watetown City Council complaining og Phosphorus levels in the lake that included soluble Phosphorus higher than total Phosphorus. This is basic Chem 101 it can not happen.

    These people need to stick to science.

    What about all these back yard chickens that the liberals promote? When it rains where does their fecal material go?

    Roger also want to promote wild life. A goose puts one pound of waste a day directly into the lakes and rivers. Apparently this is ok.

    1,000, 000 geese that isa million pounds of waste a day full of E. coli. Into the Water Supply.

  7. Kathy Tyler 2015-08-18

    The Supreme Court decision was not based on “allegations” that were made. Because the law doesn’t allow denovo review of zoning board decisions, the GCCC case was not upheld. There was no ‘science’ in their appeal, just facts: illegal contracts, etc. If you want to look for science, PEW Research has an excellent research document. John Ikerd has many references on his website. Look at Iowa. Also, there’s not a swimmable water in SE Minnesota. The science and facts are there. Again there are good and bad managers. I’ve seen both. Mr. Elliott is one of the good guys. There are good locations for these facilities. The top of watersheds is not one of them. What’s so interesting is that the proponents of these facilities do no live near them nor do they offer their property for a site.

  8. mike from iowa 2015-08-18


    (1) Canada geese do NOT transmit diseases to humans (Center for Disease Control, Washington DC; April 2005). People are always easily claiming that Canada goose droppings are harmful to humans; this is so destroying to geese, and so untrue. It is also cruel and hypocritical, because goose droppings are small and dissolve when it rains. It is purely digested grass, which is hardly a health danger compared to human droppings, waster, and disgusting garbage all around. Our rivers and drinking water is contaminated with human waste products.

    Written by: Robin McClary, State and Federal Licensed Waterfowl Rehabililtator.

  9. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-08-18

    Mike, you’re surrounded! Any word on water quality in your local watershed?

  10. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-08-18

    Can’t swim in the Minnesota River? That’s not right.

    Sam, wow: like Pat Powers, you will holler about a few dozen chickens in town but not thousands of cattle generating an entire city’s worth of sewage?

    Kathy T. appears not to be imagining the science behind her position, Sam. And how much science does it take to say that the Big Sioux watershed will be at greater risk if we build the Waverly Dairy than if we don’t?

  11. Paul Seamans 2015-08-18

    Sam seems to believe that if you don’t have a baseline study previously on your wells or groundwater before they are polluted then you aren’t relying on scientific studies. If I find the chemical atrazine in my well and an up gradient neighbor is planting corn then I have a pretty good idea where the atrazine came from. I won’t be able to prove it in a court of law but I will know where it came from.

    The same applies for nitrates in a river. If a river was clean before a CAFO appeared on the scene and then all of a sudden the river is polluted with nitrates then you have a pretty good idea where it came from, proof or not. Maybe someday DNA analysis will be able to cheaply prove exactly which cow the pollutants came from.

  12. mike from iowa 2015-08-18

    Cory,here is a report on the Minn portion of the Little Sioux River watershed before it empties into iowa’s Great Lakes region. Summary on the bottom of page 1 pretty much paints a gloomy picture for the whole area.

    Haven’t found much about iowa,yet,but City View Farms was fined for dumping waste directly into Waterman Creek and the owner/manager claims he wasn’t aware of any spills. They also,according to this report from 2013 handle nearly 16000 head of cattle. CVF’s website says they handle only 10000 head.

  13. Jana 2015-08-19

    The Corn Growers Association has addressed the issue. The question is are growers and producers taking their recommendations to heart.

    What the Corn Growers are saying makes sense, but as we’ve seen in Iowa and what the shape of the Big Sioux is, not everyone is being responsible. It doesn’t take too many bad apples to make all growers and producers look bad. The question is if self regulation works or if, for the greater good of everyone, another regulation has to be put into place.

    Conserve is at the heart of conservative and that takes a conscious effort on everyone’s part.

    @sam. You’re urban chicken argument is…well…chickensh*t.

  14. Lynn 2015-08-19

    Is it legal in South Dakota to spread liquid manure from livestock factories on frozen fields? It looks like an entity similar to Dakota Rural Action in Wisconsin called Midwest Environmental Advocates helped get it outlawed after the Treml family in Wisconsin ended up with manure contamination in their well water caused by a nearby CAFO or “livestock factory” video showing what their water looked like and their story with liquid manure melting and runoff with snow.

    Midwest Environmental Advocates are also fighting what would be the largest corporate hog operation in WI from being located close to Bayfield, WI and draining into Lake Superior. It’s an Iowa based operation with the owner mostly living at his home in Florida. Tourism and clean water pristine waters drive the economy there in which this AG runoff would have a widespread negative impact far outweighing any economic benefits of this livestock factory.

  15. roger 2015-08-19

    I don’t recall ever complaining to the city council, sharing information with them, yes i have done that a couple of times. if i have ever misspoken or have been misquoted i apologize, but the facts remain the same. if a goose poops a pound, a cow will poop a hundred. my main concern is the water quality of the big sioux river and lakes kampeska and pelican.

  16. Iowa Jane 2015-08-19

    I live in Iowa, home to over 20 million hogs. Our beautiful rural communities stink. Our waterways are overflowing with nitrates, phosphorous, antibiotics, heavy metals, bacteria, and heaven knows what else from tiled fields sending manure runoff into its streams.

    People get sick living near CAFOs, some have to wear face masks. I know people that have environmental asthma, others hydrogen sulfide poisoning. Families often lose all the equity they built up in their homes when a confinement is built nearby. Frequently, that’s the retirement nest egg down the drain. The roads get terribly damaged from all the heavy truck traffic servicing the CAFOs, and guess who pays for that….

    You don’t want this in South Dakota. Don’t let your Ag money entrenched elected officials tell you this is good for your economy, builds jobs, or that this is modern or progressive agriculture. It’s not. It’s environmentally damaging industry that hires a few low wage workers. Just like the manure is not manure – it’s raw hog sewage that is applied untreated to fields.

    Kick those officials out of office the next time you need to select lawmakers and leaders for your state. They work for Big Ag, not for you.

  17. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-08-19

    Other Roger, how’d the meeting go tonight?

  18. Roger Foote 2015-08-20

    The meeting went very well with over 120 people attending. Both sides of the issue were in attendance although the speakers were geared against the industrial sized operations. It was a good opportunity to voice concerns about the impacts of these systems without being shouted down by big AG. Most of the local population has no idea that these industries have a huge impact on the local area, and its not all good. I do believe we can come up with good compromises if we stop shoving economic development down peoples throats.

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