Supporters of a controversial Steven County dairy have been calling for the elimination of the power of the Citizens Board of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) to require an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) of new livestock operations, claiming that the sole instance of the board making such a request has had a chilling effect on farming in the state.
But during his testimony before the Senate Environment and Energy Committee on Thursday, Minnesota Farmers Union President Doug Peterson, a former state representative and Lac Qui Parle County farmer, advanced a much different argument in favor of the board.
After noting that the Minnesota Farmers Union's policy has long supported environmental review, the right of citizens to petition and transparency, Peterson called attention to the robust health of production livestock agriculture in Minnesota:
I believe and we believe as an organization that the Minnesota livestock industry is doing well. We're number one in turkeys. This summer we passed North Carolina and are number two in hog production. This month, cattle and calves for feed and slaughter, the market for Minnesota feedlots for capacity of greater than a 1000 head totaled a 137,000 head in January 2015, according to the . . .national ag statistics service Minnesota field office. And this is up 2000 head from last month and up 7000 head from the month before. . .
Peterson went on to share stories from his personal experience as a resident of a deep rural county and as lawmaker.
Here's the video:
Two active farmers from rural counties also came forward during the open testimony period.
Kathy DeBuhr, neighbor to proposed Baker Dairy in Stevens County, testified to the Minnesota Environmental committee regarding environmental review, testified in favor of the role of the Citizens Board in the environmental review and process. Here's an extended excerpt of her testimony:
Renville County dairy farmer James Kanne also testified in favor of the board:
To view the complete hearing, including agency overviews of the environmental process, check out the video for January 29, 2015 on the committee's media webpage.
On Wednesday, Bluestem posted a brief preview of the hearing, MN Senate Environment & Energy Committee to hold hearing on purpose of environmental review.
Photo: Some of James Kanne's dairy cows grazing in Renville County. Via Facebook.
Disclosure: Bluestem's editor and publisher is an active member of the Minnesota Farmers Union. She served for many years on the group's By-laws and Rules Committee, and served a two-year term on the Policy Committee in 2013-2014.
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