Farmer vs Farmer

South Dakota livestock producers proposing new facilities are running into opposition from an unexpected quarter.

Published on: Apr 24, 2012

NOTE: This story was updated Thursday April 26, 2012 to clarify a point in the article.

"We don't have to worry about PETA and HSUS stopping livestock development in South Dakota," says Steve Dick, executive director of Agriculture United for South Dakota. "We have got farmers."

He's talking about farmers who oppose construction of modern confined animal feeding operations.

Farmers are more effective at blocking livestock development than people from anti-livestock groups such as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and the Humane Society of the United States, he says. Farmers are local and they are in agriculture. What they say affects public opinion and county officials.

New confined animal feeding operations, like this dairy barn under construction, are often opposed by neighboring farmers.
New confined animal feeding operations, like this dairy barn under construction, are often opposed by neighboring farmers.

Farmers opposing farmers also sends a mixed message to townspeople about what are acceptable ways to raise livestock.

The opposition "is very frustrating," Dick says.

Odor, dust and traffic are some of the concerns farmers have expressed about CAFOs.

Dicks says that in a TV interview, a farmer said he was worried about the dust that a 5,400-sow farrowing unit proposed for Davison County would create.

It is ironic, Dick says, that the man was positioned in front of his hay grinder while being interviewed.

"A hay grinder creates more dust that just about anything on a farm," he says.

At a Clark County, S.D., hearing for a hog finishing barn, a farmer said he was worried about the additional truck traffic the barn would generate.

"What about the additional truck traffic that grain growers are generating as they increase yields? Dick asks.

Agriculture United for South Dakota is helping host special tours of livestock facilities for farmers this summer.

"Part of the problem is that most farmers don't really know what these new facilities are really like, he says.

If you are thinking of putting up a new dairy or hog barn, or building a new feedlot, Dick suggests that you don't forget to talk to other farmers in the area before you request a permit.

"It's just not the non-farmers who buy acreages in the country you have to worry about," he says.