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LETTER: Rights trampled in hog-farm decision

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To the Editor:

Let me remind everyone that May 1 at the Davison County Courthouse, our county commissioners approved a permit for a 5,400-head sow operation to be built in Baker Township. Though residents spoke about how this giant hog factory will take the profits and leave our local community with problems -- lower property values, damage to our roads and pollute our water and air -- the commissioners did not care that we were treated unfairly, and they didn't have the guts to turn down big business. Most have lived here, farmed the land, raised their family, cared for, worked for and improved their farm through the years.

Now our quality of life will be stolen and many more barns will be built in South Dakota because our neighboring states are tired of the stench, waterways being polluted from manure applications and draining our aquifers of water. Factory farms are not the "smell of money," but the stench of corporate agriculture.

Residents surrounding a hog factory get nothing. No hearing, no judge, no jury, no compensation. Davison County commissioners decided the rights of huge corporations to greedy profits are above the rights of the citizens of Baker Township. Will our government and politicians make laws to let citizens' property be diminished in livability? Is this really the USA?

Now, imagine a factory farm operator spreading 8,000 gallons an acre of toxic manure across the road from your home, or on a tile line that runs into a nearby creek or stream, resulting in destruction and pollution of our waterways, our well water and our air. Now, imagine instead of investigating or giving the toughest fines and penalties allowed by law, the South Dakota Department of Environment and Natural Resources has an "informal meeting" with the operator or sends a "letter to comply" asking them not to do it again.

Does that sound good to you?

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