Despite citizens' calls from across the state, the Minnesota Senate sided with corporate interests and passed the Senate Omnibus Environment Finance Bill with a provision that will double the size factory farms can be before environmental review is required. Sen. Jason Isaacson offered an amendment to remove this bad provision from the bill, but it failed narrowly on a 31-34 vote. (See how Senators voted here.) The Senate bill is now in conference committee with the House version, which does not contain this bad provision. This conference committee of five Senators and five Representatives must reconcile the two versions of the bill. Our job now is to make sure that the conference committee, which is meeting this week, does not adopt this bad provision.
Doubling the environmental review threshold to 2,000 animal units is about paving the way for more and larger factory farms in Minnesota. The law now is that factory farms over 1,000 animal units must undergo environmental review. These are the largest 7 percent of feedlots in our state. (One thousand animal units equals 3,333 hogs, or 714 dairy cows, or 1,000 steers.) The current threshold of 1,000 animal units is so large that only nine factory farms were required to do an environmental review in 2016.
Some legislators are replying with inaccurate information. Many of our members have gotten back replies on this issue from legislators claiming that this legislation merely returns the threshold for environmental review to what it used to be. This is not accurate. The full details on the history of environmental review in Minnesota are in this Land Stewardship Project blog: Getting the Facts Straight on Environmental Review & Factory Farms.
We are pushing back hard to stop this attack on family farms, clean water and stewardship of the land. Rural radio ads ran on 71 radio stations featuring farmer and LSP member Dale Post of Goodhue County's Zumbrota Township speaking about how environmental review was critical to him and his neighbors when confronted with a proposed factory hog farm (listen to the ad here). LSP members throughout rural Minnesota have expressed their opposition to this proposal through letters sent to the editors of newspapers. Consider joining in and writing a letter on this issue to your local newspaper. Let me know if you do or if you want help writing a letter.