Calls Needed by Monday, Dec. 8
The Minnesota Senate Rural Task Force met on Nov. 12 to discuss rural Minnesota initiatives that could be brought up during the state legislative session that begins Jan. 6. On a short list of three agenda items was “Rural Permitting Discussion.” This "discussion" focused on corporate ag advocates attacking local control of factory farms and the recent decision by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) Citizens’ Board to order an in-depth environmental review on an 8,800+ cow dairy in Stevens County.
Proposal for Weakening Local Control Laid Out in Detail
The Task Force heard a presentation from David Ward, lobbyist for the Cooperative Network, on why local control of factory farms needs to be gutted in Minnesota, just as it was in Wisconsin in 2004. Ward knows how that was done, as he is a former Wisconsin legislator who was a key author of the Wisconsin bill that created a system where state standards trump township and county local control. Ward went through a 39-slide detailed PowerPoint presentation without any legislator voicing strong concerns or standing up for local control.
Family Farms Dismissed & 8,850-Cow Dairy Called “Real Ag”
During the Task Force meeting, the executive director of the Agri-Growth Council, the lobbying entity for the state’s largest corporate agriculture interests, bemoaned the MPCA Citizens’ Board's decision to order an in-depth Environmental Impact Statement of a 8,800+ cow dairy. This dairy would use almost 100 million gallons of water a year and is strongly opposed by its rural neighbors. Even worse, comparing a 320-acre farm of one member of the MPCA Citizens' Board who raises crops and beef to this mega-dairy, Task Force member Sen. Julie Rosen said, “That’s not real ag. This is real ag.”
Take Action by Monday, Dec. 8
Contact members of the Senate Rural Task Force before Monday, Dec. 8. The next and last meeting of the Senate Rural Task Force before the legislative session is Monday, Dec. 8, at 10 a.m. in Room 112 of the Capitol Building in Saint Paul.
Members of the Senate Rural Task Force
- Sen.Tom Saxhaug, Chair (DFL-Grand Rapids), 651-296-4136 or firstname.lastname@example.org
- Sen. Julie Rosen, Co-founder of the Task Force (R-Vernon Center), 651-296-5713 or email@example.com
- Sen. Kent Eken (DFL-Twin Valley), 651-296-3205 or firstname.lastname@example.org
- Sen. Kevin Dahle (DFL-Northfield), 651-296-1279 or use mail form
- Sen. Vicki Jensen (DFL-Owatonna), 651-296-9457 or use mail form
- Sen. Paul Gazelka (R-Nisswa), 651-296-4875 or email@example.com
- Sen. Bill Weber (R-Luverne), 651-296-5650 or firstname.lastname@example.org
- Sen. Gary Dahms (R-Redwood Falls), 651-296-8138 or email@example.com
“I was disappointed to learn that the Senate Rural Task Force, of which you are a member, discussed weakening rural local control at your Nov. 12 meeting. Local control is especially important for rural Minnesota and needs to be kept strong. The Wisconsin livestock siting law where state-set standards trump township and county local control is wrong for Minnesota, where we believe in strong local democracy. Also, the decision to order an Environmental Impact Statement on the 8,800-cow mega-dairy proposed in Stevens County was a good one. This dairy would use almost 100 million gallons of water a year. That issue alone needs an in-depth analysis. Water availability is an increasingly critical issue in rural Minnesota.” If you are a rural resident or farmer, be sure to say so.
• The meetings of the Senate Rural Task Force aren’t broadcast or taped for rural citizens or others to listen to. However, Bluestem Prairie has done a series of investigative blogs on the Task Force, including these two: