As Governor Kristi Noem gets ready to ask the Legislature to approve her effort to bury the state’s Department of Environment and Natural Resources in the pro-corporate Department of Agriculture, she issues an argument for the “merger” that demonstrates her misconception that South Dakotans do nothing but farm and ranch:
Agriculture, conservation, and natural resource protection go hand-in-hand, and this new structure streamlines these functions in one department. For example, DANR will have a Livestock Services Program managing CAFO permitting, inspections, manure management planning, and dairy and egg licensing. These functions used to be split between two departments. Now, we will have a one-stop shop for producers, providing consistent regulatory oversight and assistance with permitting, engineering, compliance, and waste management. It also allows us to cross-train inspectors and field staff, which would result in eliminating redundant inspections from multiple departments. By providing more effective and efficient services, we can help our producers focus less on government requirements and more on getting their work done [Gov. Kristi Noem, press release, 2021.01.05].
Noem speaks here as if she never left the farm, as if she can’t see past the north 40, as if she’s never gone for a drive and seen all the manufacturers in town, the mines in the Hills, and every other non-agricultural activity that impacts the environment. Sure, farms and food processors are big polluters, but numerous other human activities threaten our environment. In this propaganda piece, Noem shows her willful inability to think beyond her own experience and her blinkered view of herself as a farm girl (we know that’s pure posing—when’s the last time Noem actually worked the farm for a living?) and of South Dakota as nothing but one big corporate farm field. Is it really that important to her effort to market herself to slobbering fans nationwide as Cowgirl Kristi that she has to pretend there aren’t any other major economic activities in the state requiring specific environmental expertise and regulation?
Noem has shown her Mickelsonian impulse to bulldoze all barriers to corporate agricultural expansion; the all-ag rhetoric with which she cloaks her assignment of the multifaceted problem of environmental regulation to one narrowly focused department shows her own narrow focus on profits and her gravely incomplete understanding of the complex issues facing our state.
Corn-Cob-CAFO Blinkerism Update 06:34 CST: KELO Radio reports that Noem is hosting a conference call this morning for farmers and ranchers to discuss the DoA/DENR merger. Just farmers and ranchers? Will the Governor be holding similar calls for manufacturers, builders, oil and gas shippers and vendors, miners, wastewater treatment infrastructure managers, and environmental advocates and experts?