We're agriculture friendly but...

Posted: 9/29/2008

September 26, 2006 - Last week I had the opportunity to attend an annual meeting of county officials in Aberdeen. Over 500 elected and appointed county officials from every county in the state were present. The meeting was a great chance for Ag United to share with the officials about the role agriculture has on our state’s economy. As you can imagine, it is a pretty easy sell to the people that are on the front lines of government service. And it is especially easy, when many of the elected officials are actively involved with grain and livestock production.

During my time at the annual meeting a number of county officials stopped by the Ag United booth to express their support for agriculture – but a few went so far as to say that “we are an agriculture-friendly county, but we kept hog barns out!”

Of the 42 counties that have planning and zoning in South Dakota, a lot of the plans were put in place in the past 10 – 15 years. Many of the counties put forth such plans to keep out certain types of livestock operations, in particular hog barns. What many counties are now finding is that the rules that they put in place to “kept out hog barns” also impact other livestock operations such as dairy farms and the state’s largest livestock economic force – beef cattle.

A county that is only open to grain production and cow herds is certainly not an agriculture-friendly county. Sure there are some counties in South Dakota in which grain production and cow herds are the viable types of operations, but just about every county in the state should be an option for hog feeding and farrowing operations, dairy farms and cattle feeding.

It has often been said that “government is run by the people who show up.” That is so true in South Dakota. People involved with livestock production need to step forward to serve on the county level, either by serving on the county commission or serving on a zoning commission.

I know many of you are saying, “I don’t want to have to deal with someone calling me asking when their road will be plowed!”

Just remember, if we don’t allow our farm and ranch families to grow their operations, pretty soon there will be no one in the agriculture areas of our state that need a road plowed!


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