HALL: Nelson brings fresh air to odorous dairy debateThere is a breath of fresh air coming to the Fulton area. It may be lost to the methane emitted by 7,000 cows in the not too distant future.
By: Rod Hall, Mitchell
There is a breath of fresh air coming to the Fulton area. It may be lost to the methane emitted by 7,000 cows in the not too distant future. First-term Rep. Stace Nelson, of Fulton, has become a real statesman in his first term in the South Dakota Legislature. Nelson has taken decisive steps to represent the people in his area against what might well be a huge disaster.
What makes Nelson unique is that as a Republican, he will take on big corporate interests, as well as Gov. Daugaard and Secretary of Agriculture Walt Bones III. It is not popular for any legislator, especially a Republican, to question the wisdom of “selling out” for many millions of dollars the air, the water and ground of any given area. Certainly, if the proposed dairy is built at Fulton, a few area farmers will receive huge profits from this corporate farm. The strange thing to me is that most of those same farmers were campaigning against corporate agriculture 40 years ago when they were just rank-and-file family farmers themselves. They seem to have lost the concern for others that that they spoke so loudly for when their future was at stake.
It was not too long ago that Austin DeCoster, the Iowa corporate hog farmer, was bound and determined to locate additional facilities in Davison County. Fortunately, the spills from his hog factories into Iowa streams and rivers gave South Dakotans real concerns. Reports of DeCoster’s inhumane treatment of his alien workers at his egg factories in Maine further degraded his appeal in South Dakota.
The authorities do not think that there would not be manure spills down Johnson Creek into Fulton. Remember, people built expensive homes thinking the water in the Missouri would never be a threat; heavy rains cause Sioux Falls to dump raw sewage into the Sioux River all too often. Would these authorities live along Johnson Creek should it be flooded? No. They have mansions in Pierre and west of Sioux Falls.
One question that has not been answered properly is the disposal of the liquid manure. With normal crop production as a result of normal rainfall, things seem to look satisfactory. What happens with a prolonged drought like what happened during the 1930s? Will these neighbor farms be happy with the maximum application of manure if they go year after year with drought conditions?
Likewise, will there be enough silage, hay and corn produced locally, or will huge amounts have to be trucked in from great distances with the resulting damage to the highways?
Thank goodness Stace Nelson can see beyond the end of his nose. Neither is he convinced by authorities who really do not know what long-term effects natural disasters would have on the area.
With all the land in South Dakota, perhaps another general location would be better. Did anyone ever think of building this dairy somewhere where necessary water could be drawn from the Missouri? Silage, hay and corn production would be much more stable with the irrigation possibilities there.
So Rep. Nelson, keep breathing fresh air and ideas into a sustainable agriculture that would capitalize on unused or underused resources. That would also keep the homes and communities free of unwanted commercial development. Forty years ago, I was the Democrat senator from Fulton working to keep Fulton safe and secure. Rep. Nelson, you may not win popularity contests with big business, but you will win the hearts and health of your fellow man.
Rod Hall, of Mitchell, is a former state legislator and school board member.