Is Jim Hagemann a polluter?
That appears to be the central question in a lawsuit that Jim and his family are caught up in.
Jim is parttime farmer. He runs approximately 130 registered Red Angus cows north of Winfred, S.D., and works a couple off-farm jobs.
A neighbor has sued him for allowing manure from his rented wintering pens to run off the feedlot. The neighbor – a physician from Sioux Falls who built a private hunting lodge and recreational area across the road from the feedlot – says the runoff polluted the ponds he built for fishing and swimming.
Jim won the first trial, but the neighbor is appealing it to the state supreme court.
Jim will probably win again.
“But it won’t be a victory,” he says. His share of the attorney and other trial costs are in excess of $35,000. (The owner of the feedlot is being sued, too.) Before the first trial, Jim agreed to move the cattle. He rented a different feedlot last year to winter the cows. Now, he is trying to get a new lot built before this fall.
“I hope this doesn’t break us,” he says.
But clearly, it might.