Weakening environmental review is about diminishing rights for people

To the editor:

Environmental review standards being lowered is not a good thing for rural Minnesota.

There is a proposal at the legislature that would allow hog confinement operations to go from 1,000 animal units to 2,000 animal units without environmental review. This proposal allows corporate interest over local small farm operations and their neighbors.

While I am all for personal freedom for farmers in rural America, when that freedom negatively affects other people that is wrong. We have a right to swing our fist but that ends when we come in contact with someone’s nose!

Neighbors want to know that large hog operations are going to be done right. We want to know that there are manure spreading agreements in place to handle all the liquid hog manure, that there is enough groundwater water available so that our wells won’t be impacted, and that the township roads can handle the increased truck traffic.

Air quality and the spread of disease is also a very real threat. Environmental review is key to this because it forces the details of the proposal to be made public and it gives neighbors time to review the plan and to make comments.

The current law is that environmental review is required when livestock confinements are 1,000 animal units. These are the largest 7 percent of feedlots in our state and because of their size, if something goes wrong it will have a big impact.

Neighbors deserve to know that it will be done right. The current law is working and we should not weaken it. This proposed legislation is about helping the biggest operations double in size without neighbors having any input. I’d like to see the legislature focus on getting more farmers raising livestock instead of helping the corporate farms get even larger.

Our area’s current legislators Rep Chris Swedzinski and Sen. Gary Dahms are co-sponsors of this legislation, I urge them to withdraw their support for this legislation.

It makes a lot more sense to encourage the development of family farm livestock operations on many farms where farmers own the livestock rather than to concentrate large livestock facilities on just a few farms which jeopardizes stewardship of our land, water and air.

Why change something that is already working. Who stands to gain by this proposal and who’s getting hit in the nose?

Fred Callens