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.