To the editor:
In rural Minnesota, we know farmers are facing record low prices and our communities are suffering because of that. Legislators should be working to figure out how to help family farmers get through these tough times. Instead, I see bills designed to help the biggest corporate-backed operations get bigger and take away the rights of neighbors.
In Minnesota, factory farms over 1,000 animal units have to do environmental review before they are built. Senate File 1016 by Sen. Bill Weber and House File 1456 by Rep. Chris Swedzinski proposes to double this to 2,000 animal units. One-thousand animal units is the very largest-sized feedlots in Minnesota and is equal to 3,333 hogs, 714 dairy cows, 1,000 steers or 200,000 chickens. One-thousand units is so large that last year only nine proposed factory farms had to do environmental review before being built.
Environmental review is extremely important because it evaluates the potential harm before a project is built to see if it can be minimized. It also means neighbors get to know what is being proposed and get a chance to comment on it before permits are issued and construction begins. If you are going to store millions of gallons of raw liquid manure in one place you should be required to do it right. That means doing an environmental review. If this bill passes, the factory farms that are 900 animal units now can double in size without doing environmental review.
Senate File 1016 by Sen. Weber and House File 1456 by Rep. Swedzinski are about helping the very largest factory farms, at the expense of rural communities. That’s wrong! Let your legislators know today that they should oppose this bill to keep family farms and rural Minnesota strong.
Blooming Prairie, Minn.