The fox is in charge of the Chicken House in Dodge County

By Sonja Trom Eayrs

Blooming Prairie

Wake up, Dodge County!  The county scheduled a public hearing on Wednesday, Dec. 6, at 1 p.m. to make significant changes to the local ordinance. These changes do not benefit the citizens of Dodge County – they are designed to benefit large factory farm operators and the industry.  Proposed changes will streamline and make it easy to dump a factory farm on every corner of Dodge County.

For years, the Dodge County Planning Commission, which approves factory farms, has been populated and re-populated by registered feedlot operators. These are not elected positions – members are appointed by the county commissioners.   openings on the Planning Commission are never posted in the newspaper.  Only the “1 percent club” of factory farm operators learn of openings and get their friends and relatives appointed to these positions.  The fox has been in charge of the chicken house for years in Dodge County.

The county proposes to strip out term limits for members of the Planning Commission.  Currently, members serve for a maximum of six years.  Without term limits, the 1 percent club will serve indefinitely at the pleasure of the County Board.

The county also proposes to change the rules regarding the calling of a special meeting.  This tactic was used to approve the 11th swine factory farm near our farm in rural Dodge County in December 2014. We were blind-sided and received less than 10 days’ notice that a special meeting had been called to approve yet another swine factory farm. If they pass this provision, citizens will have to watch the Planning Commission and the County Board like chicken hawks.  NIMBY: Next it might be you!

The proposed ordinance also strips out requirements that a proposed variance consider the health or safety of persons; that a proposed variance will not be materially detrimental to the public welfare or injurious to the property or improvements in the area; and that the proposed variance will not adversely affect the environmental quality of the area.

Finally, the proposed ordinance changes the rules regarding permits for a new animal feedlot or modification of an existing animal feedlot.  It only requires the applicant to obtain local permits before issuing a conditional use permit.  This is in response to data gathered by Dodge County Concerned Citizens. We caught the industry folks with their pants down. Of the 234 registered feedlots in Dodge County, only six had a water appropriation permit from the Minnesota DNR.  Minnesota law requires a water appropriation permit for all users drawing more than 1 million gallons of water per year. These heavy water users are stripping our aquifers.  And, they’re returning the water contaminated.  Again, of the 234 registered feedlots in Dodge County, only 37 had a manure management plan on file with the County.  Minnesota law requires the filing of a manure management plan for all feedlots capable of holding more than 300 animal units.

Wait.  It gets better.  Another swine factory farm is proposed just one mile from our farm – the 12th in a 3-mile radius.  A public hearing is scheduled at the Ripley Town Hall on Dec. 6, 2017 at 7 p.m.

Dodge County residents are being stepped on by large corporate interests who are trying to run the county. Residents, it’s time to take back control and voice your concerns.  Silence is acceptance!

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