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Facing Health Crisis, Noem Suspends Environmental Regulation of Hog CAFOs

Governor Kristi Noem just used the coronavirus as an excuse to suspend environmental protections around factory hog farms.

In Executive Order 2020-17, her fourteenth executive order in six weeks dealing with the covid-19 pandemic, the Governor has suspended counties’ statutory authority to enforce limits on the number of hogs confined in concentrated animal feeding operations. Her rationale: with the Smithfield Food Sioux Falls plant closed indefinitely due to its, the city’s, and the state’s failure to take swifter action to control the coronavirus outbreak among its workforce, over 500 pork producers have lost their usual buyer and can’t clear their hog pens fast enough to make way for new piglets.

Suspending environmental regulations does nothing to stop the spread of coronavirus. Counties enforce limits on how many animals can be crowded into a CAFO to protect water quality, air quality, and public health. Noem’s latest executive order thus responds to one threat to public health by creating a second threat to public health.

The Governor also directs the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to “exert regulatory flexibility” on hog CAFOs, which translates to “don’t fine anyone for exceeding the permitted CAFO pig cap.”

Executive Order 2020-17 does tell CAFO pig producers that they “should” (the DENR gets the mandatory shall; CAFO operators just get the recommendatory should) “maintain proper soil testing and manure management protocols and diligently strive” (strive, as in try, not do) to attain the limits of all permits as soon as practical.”

Pork producers can’t tell their sows to stop making new piglets (at least not for three months, three weeks, and three days), and with 22 million Americans newly out of work and facing food insecurity, it’s a crying shame that good pork or any food be thrown away. The obvious solution here is not to stockpile hogs in unsanitary conditions. The solution here is foster farms.

Governor Noem has a “farm”, or at least a few acres that she brags about to establish her rural cred. Her brothers own much more well-subsidized land. Perhaps Kristi and her clan can earn the millions of dollars in corporate farm welfare checks they’ve received over the last 25 years by putting their land in service of the region’s coronavirus-beset hog farmers by taking in new piglets—not even the big market-ready porkers, just the little ones who are popping out with no fresh pen to porkulate—and letting them range free across their land for a few weeks. Recruit other big landholders facing further failure or Trump trade tirades and a collapse of the ethanol market to adopt truckloads of pigs to roam their land, and pay them a fee for fostering those yummy critters from the $1.6 billion Uncle Sam is sending to prop up state government. Don’t crowd the pigs; spread them out!

To further ease the overstocking, promote local processing and consumption of those pigs. Don’t wait for local meat lockers to apply for small business loans; take a chunk of the state’s business relief fund, hand it directly to the small-town butcher shops, and tell them to use the cash to buy a couple more rendering tables and hire a few idled neighbors to butcher hogs locally. Draft all those Ribfest wagon operators into public service: allow them to set up their wagons next door to local meat lockers and start making ribs for everyone (curbside pickup, of course, and line up six feet apart, please). Then, Kristi, take a bucket of ribs and bacon and pork rinds down to your private basement video studio and start cranking out public service videos telling everyone in the state to eat more local pork!

I’d much rather see thousands of free-range pigs and some state support for an alternative local pork supply chain than a temporary suspension of the few CAFO regulations that stand between us and environmental aporcalypse. Noem’s executive order shows not just her continued contempt for proper environmental management and local control but also her inability to think outside the big Butzian model of corporate agriculture.

Related Reading: JBS is shutting down its slaughterhouse in Worthington after 33 employees tested positive for coronavirus. Workers at a Smithfield packing plant in North Carolina are worried the company isn’t doing enough to protect them from confirmed cases of coronavirus among their colleagues. A Cargill meatpacking plant is Alberta’s largest source of covid-19 infections. Is anyone ready to talk about how maybe the whole factory-meat production model requires an overhaul for worker safety and public health?


  1. Dave 2020-04-21 08:07

    She could create an entire new hunting season!

  2. Donald Pay 2020-04-21 09:43

    If you want to create even more illness, just pile more pigs in more concentrated areas. The lessons are never learned, are they?

  3. mike from iowa 2020-04-21 10:43

    Can’t sell what they have, raise even more and depress the market even more. Brilliant. Go back to google Kristy and see which is smaller, her shoe size or IQ.

  4. mike from iowa 2020-04-21 10:51

    South Dakota pork plant with one of biggest COVID-19 clusters in US blames immigrant workers and ‘living circumstances of certain cultures’ Sure, why not?
    Smithfield Foods shuttered plant in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, indefinitely
    More than 700 of the plant’s 3,700 employees have been infected with COVID-19
    The pork-processing plant is one of the country’s largest COVID-19 clusters
    Plant employees make up around half of South Dakota’s active cases
    Company spokesperson said immigrants’ ‘living circumstances’ were to blame
    Company denied claims it failed to act after initial COVID-19 cases were known

  5. Buckobear 2020-04-21 11:46

    Yep!! Them dirty furriners is to blame.
    Question: If they are so dirty and unhealthy, why do you hire them??

  6. jerry 2020-04-21 14:31

    Solution, put white faces on the line in these meat packing plants. These are folks that are out of work they claim, so tell them to put the AK47 down and put on a white frock and get with it. Tell those brown immigrants that you have this so it’s no longer be a problem. White privilege should mean doing the lifting.

    Or, the plants could pay more for the work being done so the immigrant employees can have higher living standards…oh, and tests. Where the hell are the tests? Go on slap on some makeup GNOem and purse those lips to ask the old tom cat for some tests.

  7. mike from iowa 2020-04-21 15:30

    Something is going on…..

    Last updated: April 21, 2020, 20:24 GMT
    April 14 – 15 Change in US Data
    United States
    Coronavirus Cases:

    drumpf’s body count takes a big jump today.

  8. Debbo 2020-04-21 15:34

    Company spokesperson said immigrants’ ‘living circumstances’ were to blame? That’s so pathetic.

    The racists will happily buy that, but not the sane Americans. Of course many, if not most of Fetid Flopsweat’s followers are racists.

  9. jerry 2020-04-21 16:45

    One of those whose “living circumstances” were caused by low pay, just died. White guys need to get with it now! Stand up and show that you can do the job while you take pictures of your home surroundings to show that your “living circumstances” are so much more adequate and that you can do the job for the same pay!!.. Damn straight, that will show those slackers that the Proud Boys can cut meat…tweet the old tom cat whilst your on the job to show your chops.

  10. jerry 2020-04-21 16:55

    Turns out that our little stinker governor has given the death sentence to those who are taking the old tom cat’s drug. Yikes

    “It’s still an initial study, not the kind of double blind controlled study that is the gold standard of drug studies. But the largest study to date, based on data from the VA, shows that hydroxychloroquine, the purported miracle drug repeatedly touted by President Trump, showed slightly MORE deaths from COVID19 among those who were treated with the drug.”

    Of course, this was done to veterans as well as the poor suckers in the Sioux Falls Hospital that probably were so damn desperate they went with it.

  11. Robin Friday 2020-04-21 17:14

    What has been going on for some time, including SD, is a lack of testing (to say nothing of a lack of leadership). Noem mentioned it herself just a few days ago when she said the state couldn’t test because of a lack of testing “supplies”. Since Trump was all about swabs at the same time, I took it to mean lack of swabs. But swabs can’t be that hard to get, can they?

    If only someone would tell us the truth, if only the pols were bright enough to know that if you tell us the truth, we’ll handle far better than if you consistently lie or hide the truth from us.

    Anyone who’s raised children knows you have to tell them the truth. If you lie, it will go very badly somewhere along the line. Have some confidence in us.

  12. Robin Friday 2020-04-21 17:19

    I’m so sick of him taking up the national news time on tv for his “updates” which are nothing but campaign rallies very slightly modified.

  13. mike from iowa 2020-04-21 18:38

    Robin, i believe you had mentioned a five year old Detroit girl that died of Covid-19? Did you know both her parents were First Responders? Truly sad.

  14. T 2020-04-21 19:38

    Mike from Iowa thanks for the tidbit
    CH great article the run off laws are weak enough now we have even more disease and stench ….
    Pig urine good fertilizer BUT how much? And we will never know environmental consequences. Took years to clean up a cattle run off in our area I suppose that’s time wasted and by the way side ….

  15. JW 2020-04-21 19:57

    The whole corporate meat production and processing model needs to be dismantled and decentralized to aid the small family farm!

  16. Debbo 2020-04-21 20:19

    I’m guessing local lockers are swamped and anyone who knows how to butcher is as busy as they want to be. Maybe I ought to make a few extra bucks teaching people how to do their hogs? Too much arthritis to do it myself.

    I wonder what power saw people have in their shops to split a pig? Circular saws don’t cut deep enough. A band saw would be good but you better have 2-3 people doing it. A chain saw would tear it up, I think.

  17. Debbo 2020-04-21 20:48

    NPR has a very nicely arranged chart that documents Fetid Flopsweat’s lies, bogus claims and deranged rantings regarding COVID-19. Situated alongside are statements by the CDC, WHO and other sources. It’s very damning and clearly illustrates the insanity pinwheeling through his demented brain.

  18. Aaron 2020-04-21 21:14

    Hog CAFOs in South Dakota have all the disease causing potential that a Chinese wet market does.

  19. jerry 2020-04-21 21:20

    Debbo, just a couple of tools needed. A bone saw, a boning knife and a utility knife, a sausage grinder and a sausage stuffer.

    That is how it’s done. Not to difficult, but you will need some help for sure.

  20. jerry 2020-04-21 21:22

    Good point Aaron, on top of that, we have the Chronic Wasting Disease throughout the state. Who knows what kind of pandemic we could get here. Remember, the Spanish Flu of 1918-1920 originated with hogs on a farm outside of Fort Riley, Kansas and that didn’t go over so good.

  21. Robin Friday 2020-04-21 21:48

    yes, mike I did read that. Her name was skyler, both her parents were first responders and she was a beautiful child. Makes me heartsick.

  22. Robin Friday 2020-04-21 21:52

    Anyone who believes that lives can be traded or even risked for profit is less than human.

  23. Debbo 2020-04-21 23:26

    Jerry, that is the professional equipment I’m well acquainted with. I was thinking about what one could find on the average farm.

    Aaron is absolutely right about the potential of CAFOs to introduce COVID-20, or something similar.

  24. Debbo 2020-04-21 23:28

    Kruel Kristi seems to think like Braindead Bigot: “This is a bad problem. How can I make it worse?”

  25. jerry 2020-04-21 23:45

    Well, just a good boning knife, we had a decent bone saw on the place, but mostly used a good sharp boning knife for deer and antelope. A friend’s brother in law had a few pigs that went to the locker plant. Those were cut with just a boning knife and a bone saw. Made some country hams with them that needed more brown sugar but were still pretty good. To hard to put them up on a band saw and to slick.

    That meat and the corn and soybeans should be harvested and put up for the the millions of us that will go hungry due to Covid-19. Ag producers should be paid for that of course with all the money we’re putting up it just as well go to something good instead of something dangerous and wasteful.

    ” The number of people facing acute food insecurity could nearly double this year to 265 million due to the economic fallout of COVID-19, according to the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP).

    The impact of lost tourism revenues, falling remittances and travel and other restrictions linked to the coronavirus pandemic is expected to leave about 130 million more people acutely hungry this year, in addition to 135 million already in that category, the WFP said in a new report on Tuesday.”

    WTF are we doing as citizens of the world? What has become of us the US?

  26. T 2020-04-22 06:46

    Found the article, how terrible
    Thanks for heads up I did not hear this news of child

  27. mike from iowa 2020-04-22 07:30

    T, one of the parents was in law enforcement and the other a firefighter.

  28. Paladn 2020-04-22 14:16

    Looking for more campaign contributions Ms. Governor? With the actions thus far in your term, you just may need them.

  29. mike from iowa 2020-08-05 19:45

    Need a bit of a laugh? iowa is number 2 in the nation in wind industry jobs and as producer of wind energy. Farm Burro is not amused at wind energy. They had this to say…

    But the state’s rapid investment in wind and other forms of renewable energy has prompted concern by the Iowa Farm Bureau about the loss of farmland. The organization earlier this year supported statewide regulations on where wind and solar farms can be built.

    Great. They want to control where wind farms can be built so as not to stink out cafos, I guess. From an article in Des Moines Register. I am going to shorten the URL from the original.

  30. jerry 2020-08-05 20:39

    Iowa’s mass killings of CAFO hogs. We cannot lead and restore unless we come to grips with what we’ve become. Much like Nazi Germany, we must look at the carnage and admit our collective wrong doing and how that was allowed to happen. The treatment of animals is just another example of failure to lead and failure to be accountable. Give me windmills.

    “More than any event in recent history, the coronavirus pandemic has made plain the consequences of our abuse of animals. From the Chinese wet market where the virus likely emerged to the American slaughterhouses which have become key vectors of transmission, our ravenous demand for cheap meat has been implicated in enormous human suffering. But the suffering is not ours alone. The pandemic has also focused our attention on how American agribusiness – which has benefited from deregulation under the Trump administration – abuses animals on an industrial scale.

    As slaughterhouses across the nation have been forced to close by the virus, gruesome stories have emerged of the mass killing of millions of chickens and pigs who can no longer be brought to market. Chickens have been gassed or smothered with a foam in which they slowly suffocate. Among other methods, pigs – whose cognitive abilities are similar to dogs – have been killed by a method known as ventilator shutdown, in which the airways to a barn are closed off and steam is introduced. A whistleblower’s video shows thousands of pigs dying as they are slowly suffocated and roasted to death overnight.”

    Pretty graphic

  31. mike from iowa 2021-04-21 14:31

    A 17 year old girl found dead in iowa hog cafo she was cleaning. No weord, as yet, on cause of death. Stay tuned. South Dakota will likely turn this into a reason to further deregulate these killers.

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