- Associated Press - Saturday, May 28, 2016

MILBANK, S.D. (AP) - A ballot initiative setting distances that concentrated animal feedlots must maintain from neighboring properties and water sources is a hot issue in Grant County.

The county previously required concentrated feedlots to be one-half mile from homes, regardless of the size of the operation, the Watertown Public Opinion reported (http://bit.ly/1Vn7FX3 ).

Grant County Commissioners in March approved revisions to the policy that require a one mile distance for feedlots with more than 7,000 animals, three-quarters of a mile for ones between 5,000 and 7,000 and two-thirds of a mile for ones between 3,500 and 5,000. The half-mile distance is maintained for operations with 1,000 to 2,000 animals, and smaller operations get progressively shorter distance requirements.

Opponents gathered enough signatures to have the revisions put to a public vote during the June 7 primary election.

Grant County Concerned Citizens, which has been rallying in favor of a harder stance on feedlots for years, argues that neighbors have a right to be free of the burdens the operations place on neighboring properties due to the vast quantity of animal waste produced.

Vince Meyer, the group’s president, worries about smell and pollution.

“That’s a lot of waste that you’ve got to get rid of,” he said. “The smell will affect people’s ability to do things outside.”

Mark Leddy, CEO of Valley Queen Cheese of Milbank, said he sees nothing but problems with the ordinance. Leddy worries that with the new regulations, feedlot operators lose their property rights and fall victim to the whims of their neighbors.

“The neighbor now becomes judge, jury and executioner,” Leddy said.

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Information from: Watertown Public Opinion, http://www.thepublicopinion.com

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