Turner County Thinks 2 Miles Enough Distance Between Town and 6 Million Chickens

Speaking of CAFOs, Turner County is trying again to craft zoning regs that would allow Sonstegard Foods to concentrate six million laying hens just outside of Parker. Judge Tim Bjorkman overturned Turner County’s first zoning revamp last month based on the county’s failure to notify the public of changes it made to the ordinance. Now the county has posted a new draft zoning ordinance and scheduled a public meeting for next week Tuesday, November 3, 7 p.m., at the Turner County Courthouse in Parker.

Opponents of the egg factory are circulating the below flyer to encourage residents to attend:

Turner County zoning hearing flyer, circulated October 2015
Turner County zoning hearing flyer, circulated October 2015

Among other changes, the draft zoning ordinance removes a requirement that increases the setback distances between CAFOs and existing structures and towns based on the number of animal units and instead sets flat setbacks of half-mile from houses, businesses and parks, and two miles from town for the all Large Class A CAFOs. The same distances would apply to the Sonstegard egg factory whether they have 600,000 or 6,000,000 laying hens.

Turner County residents in general and Parker residents in particular, if you have questions, Tuesday’s zoning meeting is a good chance to ask them.

Tangentially Related: Now that McDonald’s has all-day breakfast (now we have reached the End of History), I notice that a Sausage McMuffin costs $1.00, while a Sausage Egg McMuffin costs $2.99. That allegedly freshly cracked Grade A egg adds two dollars to the cost of my sandwich. It might be cost-efficient for me to crack, fry, and pack my own egg to McDonald’s. But if six million hens can lay four million eggs each day, that’s eight million dollars’ worth of McMuffin topping coming out of the proposed Parker poultry pit each day, or $2.9 billion a year.

13 Responses to Turner County Thinks 2 Miles Enough Distance Between Town and 6 Million Chickens

  1. Shirley Harrington-Moore

    Just wait until the wind blows the wrong way. Ethanol plants, for instance, have a heavy sickly sweet smell. Chickens have a whole other aroma.

  2. It will not make any difference if the people show opposition, the commissioners will vote for the setback changes anyway.

  3. Douglas Wiken

    Looks like a chickens*** zoning ordinance. Five or ten miles is not enough to escape the stench from these factory animal confinement systems. Get the right wind direction and speed with a humid day and the stench from large cattle or hog operations here in Tripp County can be smelled from 10 or 15 miles away. Allowing these operations is a form of taking without compensation for people unfortunate enough to live anywhere close to them.

  4. mike from iowa

    The setback should be a minimum of 50 nautical miles from land for any cafo and at least that far from any source of water. From experience I can safely assure you most people are not anxious to smell concentrated caca.

  5. larry kurtz

    Who cares? East River is already a chemical toilet. Let people build wherever they want.

    Moody County stinks, not from the Flandreau Santee Sioux cannabis endeavor, but from yet another Confined Animal Feeding Operation being constructed by Dakota Layers.

    The fact construction is already underway on a project that has yet to be fully approved by the Moody County Commissioners upset neighbors. Virginia Heesch, who lives just a half mile west of the proposed facility, understands. And she hopes the two can be good neighbors. But she has concerns. “My first question is, if this has been in the works for a year and a half, why is this meeting just being held today,” she asked. The growth of CAFO’s in our county and region has a number of area residents concerned, especially as the large scale farms encroach upon the smaller family farms that have dotted the landscape for generations. Any way you drive out of Flandreau, you hit a confinement,” Michelle Heesch told the Commissioners. A decision on the permit was tabled until the County Commissioners’ next meeting which is scheduled for October 6. [Moody County Enterprise]

    After the US Environmental Protection Agency announced new protections for agricultural workers the Republican group, Farm Bureau decried the decision as government overreach. In separate lawsuits workers at Monsanto are suing the company for exposure to cancer-causing pesticides and to polychlorinated biphenyls.

    You poor bastards.

  6. We have decibels for noise pollution; do we have nosibels for odor pollution? Is there a way to quantify the pungency of six million chickens versus that of a typical ethanol plant?

    We get that ethanol smell in Aberdeen all the time. Sometimes when the wind is right at Lake Herman, I can smell the Wentworth ethanol plant almost 11 crow-flying miles away.

  7. larry kurtz

    Cory, you live two hundred miles upstream of Turner County. Why should you care about this?

  8. check out http://denr.sd.gov/des/fp/cafo.aspx and read the responses to informal comments on the initial preliminary draft permit…
    you will find responses to questions and suggestions to increasing funding and inspections and additional manpower by “naw, we’re good”

  9. I’m not sure what the laying barns will be like but presumably from the information available, the hens will be caged in confined spaces that run up against current market trends. With McDonalds joining a growing list of suppliers including Burger King, General Mills and Walmart moving to at least a preference for and/or exclusive use of cage-free eggs, market demand may relegate CAFOs to a diminishing and less lucrative market. But when our state is looking to store nuclear waste too, manure may be just one more thing that “smells like money.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/10/business/mcdonalds-to-use-eggs-from-only-cage-free-hens.html?_r=0 “McDonald’s announcement effectively ends any debate that there may have been over whether cages have a future in the industry,” said Paul Shapiro, vice president for farm animal protection at the Humane Society of the United States.

  10. If i were a betting man I bet they vote for it.

  11. Yes, based on their past history, the Turner County Planning and Zoning Commission is likely to pass these changes. Then, as i understand their county procedures (which differ among counties), the proposed changes will go to the county commissioners, who should hold at least one more public hearing and vote. They, too, will probably vote to accept the changes. However, changes in a county zoning ordinance are referable. I.e., citizens can petition for the changes to be referred to a vote by the citizens of the county (SDCL 11-2-29, 11-2-30, 11-2-22). After the county commissioners vote to adopt the changes, they must publish their resolution, and citizens have 20 days from the date of publication to file a referendum petition (signed by 5% of the registered voters of the county) (SDCL 7-18A-15 and 7-18A-16).

  12. Larry, if you care enough to keep commenting and blogging from your various far-flung locations, I can care enough from Aberdeen to publicize issues affecting Parker and everywhere else in South Dakota.

    C Carter, with 5,356 registered voters in Turner County as of today, referring the zoning ordinance would require 268 signatures. Do you think the folks concerned about the Sonstegard chicken factory can round up that many signatures during the height of Christmas shopping?

  13. Robbi buller

    We are a rural community this is agricultural based business . I don’t see the big deal . What really frustrates me is the main people opposing this . They were supporting members , including past presidents of the Parker Economic Development corporation . Now they are adamantly opposed to a major financial boost to our economy . It’s funny how they supported economic development yet oppose this project . I wonder what changed ?