With respect to the Thursday, May 7, 2020, “Point of View” column by Yankton County Commissioner Dan Klimisch, we wish to respond to the comments and opinions presented.
We wish to also acknowledge that we understand the comments and opinions are his and are not necessarily those held by all members of the Yankton County Commission or all members of the Yankton Planning & Zoning Commission. We reached this understanding by reviewing the actual meetings of each commission on YouTube and encourage all residents of Yankton County to go online and review these meetings (“Yankton County Planning & Zoning YouTube” or “Yankton SD County Commission YouTube”).
In the second paragraph Mr. Klimisch states, “Nearly everyone I have spoken with wants to place reasonable and safe conditions on Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs)” and that the previous commission realized the need but that no changes were made. Mr. Klimisch does not mention the disruptive behaviors at 2017 and 2018 commission and Planning & Zoning meetings. Disruptive behaviors have continued into 2020 as recently as April 7 (7 minutes and 48 seconds into the recording https://youtu.be/D9Ar4WN46yE ).
We disagree that the “biggest challenge” to Yankton County is how to allow safe CAFO expansion in the county. The biggest challenge is to provide equal treatment and respect for all residents of Yankton County. This will occur when the commission makes sound decisions leading to economic growth for all sectors of the population, not only for those who find favor with Mr. Klimisch. An example of this is during the April 7 County Commission meeting where protocol was disregarded in a discussion about CAFOs.
The second biggest challenge in Yankton County is to reduce the unprecedented number of lawsuits that is impacting the county by increased liability insurance premiums and increased deductibles ($2,500/lawsuit in 2018 to $10,000/lawsuit in 2019 to $25,000/lawsuit in 2020). Currently, the county is involved in multiple lawsuits because of inappropriate resolutions and actions by the County Commission resulting in thousands of taxpayer dollars spent on deductibles, legal fees, outside attorney fees and out-of-court settlements.
In paragraph 4, Mr. Klimisch notes that changes need to be made to make CAFO applications more streamlined and consistent, which will provide a more predictable path for applicants. We believe that Senate Bill 157 passed during the 2020 legislative session addresses this issue. Mr. Klimisch brought resolutions not once, but twice before the Yankton County Commission — Feb. 4 and March 3 — not to support SB 157.
Mr. Klimisch also notes the 2003 Zoning Ordinance requires a conditional-use permit for 1 animal unit. The current Zoning Ordinance was amended in August 2008 and does not require conditional-use permits on small farms with 1 to 299 animal units. In December 2019, the Yankton County Commission passed a new zoning ordinance for 2020 to “clean up” some minor language issues — again, in this version of the ordinance, small farms with 1-299 animal units are not required to have conditional use permits. This is especially worrisome because, in the “Point of View” article, he states, “I am sure there will soon be plenty of misinformation and propaganda being spread …”; we have to question why Mr. Klimisch has chosen to purposefully mislead the people of Yankton County on this topic?
Mr. Klimisch and a former Planning & Zoning commissioner propose the size of Classes D, E and F require Animal Feeding Operations to increase the conditional-use permit application burden to farms with greater than 49 animal units. Mr. Klimisch claims that “one point we have heard from some agricultural producers is that they want a small number of animal feeding operations to not require a conditional-use permit”; the change he is proposing actually INCREASES the burden for small farms — farms wishing to have 50 to 299 animal units will be required to apply for a conditional-use permit! Although Mr. Klimisch states “the planning commission agreed to and proposed an increase to 49 animal units,” the proposed changes actually decrease the number of animal units. The Yankton Planning & Zoning April 23 and May 12 meetings’ YouTube video (1 hour & 50 minutes) shows this is not accurate.
Although Mr. Klimisch humbly asks for comments and input, several of our members have had conversations with Mr. Klimisch on our desire to protect livestock production rights and right to farm protections in Yankton County. We do not, however, feel that we have been heard.
Mr. Klimisch, we truly do wish to find solutions for the growth and development of agriculture that includes modern, safe livestock production. Perhaps active listening with an open mind will have the cities of Yankton, Mission Hill, Gayville, Lesterville, Utica and Irene and all of the townships working together to find common-sense, workable solutions.
Matt and Laura Lyngstad are Yankton County farmers and members of Families Feeding Families.