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Mickelson Fronting for CAFOs, Reducing Citizen Power with Zoning Bill

MIckelson CAFO
Rep. G. Mark Mickelson

Rep. G. Mark Mickelson (R-13/Sioux Falls) wants more confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs), the mega-feedlots that South Dakota governors love and that city boys like himself don’t have to put up with on a daily basis… at least not until some CAFO’s manure pond overflows and poisons the Big Sioux River… although if we’re slurping our drinking water up out of the Missouri to the south, then who cares, right?

Anyway, when Rep. Mickelson sponsors a bill to change county zoning, it’s a good bet he’s doing it to make it easier for Big Ag to move in with big CAFOs. Such is the smell of House Bill 1140. Rep. Mickelson’s bill reduces the scope of actions of the board of adjustment that citizens can appeal in court. Rep. Mickelson wants to consolidate and expedite all appeals, because Big Ag businesses shouldn’t be forced to wait for citizens to have diverse complaints given separate, deliberate consideration. Finally, HB 1140 would require anyone appealing a county zoning decision to file a $250 bond with the circuit court and sign an agreement promising not to delay the proceedings, raising a financial barrier and a legal risk for opponents of large CAFOs and any citizen trying to make sure their county commissions follow the law.

House Bill 1140 makes it easier for corporate factory-livestockers to have their way with local government while reducing the ability of citizens to hold their county governments accountable. Citizens interested in democracy, water quality, and sustainable farming should oppose Rep. Mickelson’s latest pro-CAFO bill.


  1. C Carter 2016-01-30

    This bill is bad for local government, bad for citizens, and bad for justice.

  2. mike from iowa 2016-01-30

    Do SD pols list the names and amounts of cafo-paign contributors,or is that top secret,need to know stuff?

  3. Paul Seamans 2016-01-30

    I was going to ask why Mark Mickelson is fronting for CAFO’s but I see that Mike from Iowa has already answered my question. Running for governor will take a lot of cash.

  4. Spencer 2016-01-30

    There you go again, Cory, assuming a bill is about something that it is really not. It primarily addresses billboard zoning. This has been a growing problem, and there is a lot of confusion over the issue. You are trying to make something out of nothing.

  5. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-01-30

    Is it, Spencer? Document the billboard connection for me… and then tell me why this change is necessary for billboard purposes. Even if you can show me this bill is intended to deal with billboards, wouldn’t it still apply just as much to CAFO zoning appeals? Doesn’t this bill take away citizen power in the process, just as ai lay out in the post?

    Absent answers to those questions, Spencer, I fear you may be trying to lull us into thinking there’s nothing to worry about in this bill when in fact there is. Now why would you do that, Spencer? Why would you flak for a bill that gives government more power and citizens less?

  6. Spencer 2016-01-30

    I really do not have much interest in either supporting or opposing CAFOs. As to whether this bill could apply to CAFOs or not, I do not know the answer to that either. I do know that this bill is related to a Right to Life billboard proposed for private property but happens to be on land that is also zoned for ag. The zoning situation in Beadle County is a mess. This will clarify the process and make it easier to go forward with it without requiring a dual pathway for billboard permits that must go through the state and the county. We have been working on the billboard proposal and permit since this summer. Billboard requirements vary widely from county to county. This legislation is necessary to expedite the process and provide continuity to the system among the counties. If you want to oppose the bill, so be it, but do so for its actual intended applications.

  7. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-01-30

    Tell me more, Spencer. What in current law stops Beadle County from issuing a permit to the folks desiring to put up their billboard? Are people filing lots of appeals to block the zoning permit? Why does this RTL billboard require a bond from appellants in court? Why does it require consolidating appeals? When has a billboard zoning decision ever provoked the kind of citizen opposition that some CAFO permits have?

    Do you see why I’m having trouble believing this bill is just about billboards? Give me a concrete example, Spencer, with the legal details that show how the language of this bill makes billboards easier but not CAFOs.

  8. Donald Pay 2016-01-30

    Apparently the son is in full rebellion against his daddy, whose DENR refused to put siting requirements for CAFOS in the general permit because they said they valued “local input and local control.” The idea behind very lax state requirements was that locals would decide, and local citizens could appeal or refer decisions. Sonny spits on his father’s grave!!!! Not a nice way to run for Governor.

  9. Charlie Johnson 2016-01-30

    Mark Mickelson – King CAFO

  10. larry kurtz 2016-01-30

    Mickleson for ecocide? What a freaking surprise.

  11. larry kurtz 2016-01-30

    Spencer makes a good point: East River is a sacrifice zone. Nobody cares that the Hutterites will own it all in a decade.

  12. larry kurtz 2016-01-30

    Think about it: at least the Hutterites are white people, right?

  13. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-01-30

    Wait a minute, Spencer: is HB 1140 about RTL billboards in Beadle County, or is it about big companies unhappy about challenges to their advertising in Rapid City? Or is it both? You’re not giving me enough to work with here to buy your cover story, and you still haven’t told us how this weakening of citizen power is good.

  14. mike from iowa 2016-01-31

    Spencer-your link was longer as just as informative as the article it led to.

  15. Nick Nemec 2016-01-31

    It sounds as though a no vote is called for. Neither more CAFOs or more giant billboards are desirable outcomes.

  16. Paul Seamans 2016-01-31

    Nick Nemec is right, both CAFO’s and billboards are an affront to the senses.

  17. jake 2016-01-31

    Local control and citizen input and rights mean far less in today’s world of ALEC and Koch boys politics. Citizens are expected to serve business today–not business to serve citizens!! Get it Spencer??

  18. Porter Lansing 2016-01-31

    If it’s not about CAFOs, write into the language of the law that it’s not about CAFO’s and the appeal process citizens have to oppose CAFOs. I doubt those floating this ALEC inspired subterfuge would expose their poker hand like that. Rarely have I witnessed a state that allows Republicans to grease the government with “dark legislation” that isn’t spelled out in explicit detail what it’s about and what it’s not pertinent to before it’s on the floor. This whole hog house malarkey is foreign to proper legislative procedures.

  19. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-01-31

    Good point, Nick! Spencer gives us all the more reason to vote against HB 1140. Whether it’s CAFOs polluting the water or billboards polluting the scenery, we need to block HB 1140 and protect citizens’ ability to challenge bad zoning decisions.

  20. Robert Peters 2016-02-01

    Corporatism whether its Republican or Clinton is not capitalism.

  21. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-02-01

    I know that, Robert, and you know that—now go tell it to Rep. Mickelson and straighten him out!

  22. Les 2016-02-01

    Right on Don Pay. Gov Mickleson this kid ain’t! Right now though, It appears to be a Jackley vs Mickelson run at the money.

  23. Vicki 2017-09-12

    It is really easy for someone to say this is easy money! He lives in the city – way far away from the toxic gases, smells, flies, every lovely thing that goes with these barns!! Someone with asthma and COPD don’t think they are so wonderful, in fact they are darn right killing to some!!!

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