Last week, several area farmers offered a reminder to residents and officials of Yankton County that agriculture is still a vital cog in the local economy.

They did this by moving 27 agricultural vehicles, mostly tractors, through the streets of Yankton in what was described as a tractor parade. (Organizers were hesitant to call it a protest.) The parade wound up at the Yankton County Government Center, where the county’s planning and zoning commission was meeting. Parade participants who spoke with the Press & Dakotan expressed concern or displeasure with the planning board over decisions that, they claimed, are hurting farmers. The participants were also unhappy with the composition of the board, which now includes few farmers.

Whether a reminder of the integral role of agriculture in the local economy was necessary probably depends on your point of view.

Nevertheless, the demonstration was the latest turn in the ongoing debate in this county over zoning issues, the development of concentrated animal feedlot operations (CAFOs) and urban growth in rural areas — all issues that have stirred divisions here in recent years.

The issue has grown even sharper in recent months. Last fall’s county commission election swept out three incumbents who were advocates of agricultural growth that included facilitating the development of CAFOs in the county using existing zoning regulations. The new commissioners are seen as taking a different direction that’s more attuned to critics of CAFO development.

As we’ve noted before in this space, what the two sides seem to bring to the table feel like two different realities. Those who are against CAFO development say they want to protect the environment and the county’s quality of life. The pro-CAFO advocates say the new facilities adhere to strict zoning standards and are designed to be sensitive to environmental concerns and, thus, the county’s quality of life. Third parties might genuinely get lost trying to sort all this out.

Last week’s parade would seem to serve as a reminder of something that’s also been noted here previously.

This is a rural state, and farmers have to be able to do business in this county in order for Yankton County to survive economically.

That being said, the environmental concerns cannot be ignored. We don’t want Yankton County (or any area county) to resemble some of the stories we’ve heard emanating from other states where CAFOs are rampant and their impacts on air and water are quite evident.

There has to be an effective balance.

But that’s easier said than done. The crafting of zoning regulations was a long process, and it had to weigh the aforementioned issues. It’s the document that now regulates development.

Differences and conflicts remain, however. Last week’s parade was an indication of that.

Thus, the discussion continues — rather, it needs to continue. The balance that must be found is a constantly moving target, and the work to reach that point can never end.


(5) comments


It would appear that “SOME” farmers feel they are entitled to ‘do what they want’ as ‘city folks’ know nothing nor do they have any respect for farmers. That is a false narrative and it is comical in the fact that many city folk’s upbringing was from a family farm. INFACT, you would be hard pressed to find many city citizens in South Dakota not being able to reminisce about life on a family farm.

Another narrative is “how hard farming is”. Today’s modern technology allows existing farmers to easily till and plant 1000’s of acres in big tractors and many are now fitted with gps, air conditioning, computerized cruise control, automatic transmission and many more features. (some most recently seen have a track wheel system to deal with wet soil) Remember the Model T and compare it to todays vehicles, much improved. Remember the 4-row corn planter and now compare that today’s equipment. So what has gotten ‘harder’? or more ‘difficult’?

Many years of leveling the soil, ripping down trees, removing abandoned/useless building structures, seem to have left most areas very convenient to farming.

In addition to mitigating environmental risk of drought, it is common to see irrigation systems dotting the landscape. A new wave of drone/aerial technology, hovers over locating pests, fertilizer needs and a host of other identifiers that if negative to the production model can be quickly mitigated thus improving farmer’s yields and hopefully profitability.

Meanwhile, farmers are retiring at an increasing rate. Futurist are already questioning “Who will be the farmer of tomorrow”? Yankton County at one time had 750 individual farmers and could we see the day soon where there are only 100 left? It is a real possibility.

The Hog Confinement Facilities show all the wonders of technology. Some point out it only takes 2 hours a day to do a walk thru and tend to 2400 head of livestock. Of course, the flip side of the coin is to clean the pits, remove dead animals, and haul the livestock to market. I rarely hear a ‘septic service’ complain about their work or the ‘garbage man’ complain about their jobs. People that work those occupations already know it is ‘hard/grueling work’ but expect to get paid for it.

Unfortunately, that is where the real issue enters the picture. With financial fortunes dictated in Washington or Globally and by Big AG farmers are held hostage to the ‘production model’ they have so religiously adopted. Over production is running rampant, markets are NOT disappearing - they are still there but are being serviced by THE COMPETITION.

So, farmers, stop the ‘blame game’ that ever twist of your fortune is a result of us ‘city folk’ … I think your problems are much greater than that.


Ultracrepidarian: noun, a person who expresses opinions on matters outside the scope of their knowledge or expertise.


You are making general bias on a few farmers you evidently have great dislike for. Most farmers do not have the technology you mentioned above as they cannot afford it - evermore now with poor commodity prices. The current inability to farm a great deal of the farm ground due to flooding - still having to pay rent for flooded acres (if you don't own it) - so loss of production acres/dollars there - things you don't understand - or choose to leave out of discussion. Hog confinement hours vary depending on the size/age of the pigs - younger pigs take more time/man hours to care for. You would know if you asked the questions - but you choose to assume and generalize on your interpretations/views - not facts. If you realized that a lot of swine barns (not just Yankton county) are taken care of by the family farmer him/her-self - that 2-6 hours in a barn - plus then the field work or any other livestock they may own - you don't even begin to have a clue for the hours a family farmer puts into his/her week. I believe a lot of "city folk" as YOU (and several others) divide us - do support agriculture and our means of livelihood - it's some uneducated people - that choose to remain uneducated and believe the false information and scare tactics used by big lobbyist organizations - and run rampant with this so called information. As I have said many times over - so many generalizations are made to cause a negative impact - especially without taking the time or effort to actually talk to many family farmers and find out what really goes on from day to day in our lives. So stop blaming all the farmers out there based on your personal feelings towards a select/targeted few and creating negativity for ALL farmers. Open you minds and become educated. You might learn a thing or two - or MANY!!


It’s amazing how, with family farms disappearing at an alarming number, they keep promoting the big corporation farms.
It’s not just in words but in actions.


It’s sad that the family farmers persist in siding with the big corporations instead of themselves. The big drop in numbers of the family farms are the proof of their misplaced loyalty.

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