Why should you care? 

Currently in South Dakota 78% of South Dakota stream-miles and 85% of lake acres are considered “impaired.” One of the reasons for this contamination is e-coli and other contaminants from industrial agricultural run-off. This ongoing pollution by big industrial agriculture endangers South Dakotans source of drinking water and recreational use of bodies of water. 

Many of Dakota Rural Action’s members are producers who are trying to change the agricultural system and use sustainable methods of farming that provide people with healthy nutritious foods, build the local economy by keeping food dollars circling in local communities, and have a positive impact on the environment. Unfortunately, with each factory farm that is built or expanded, it makes it harder for local producers to compete. If you are a local producer, it is especially important for you to show our representatives that there is an alternative.

What is happening with Primo Feedlots Specifically?

“In a heavy rain event, the land east of the feedlot and current CAFO is the start of Brule Creek which contains around 13 to 14 watersheds through Lincoln and Union counties, in the end it flows into the Sioux River. In the late teens the area experienced a heavy rain event. The property east of the feedlot and CAFO, known as the Saunders property had their well contaminated, after that the well contained high levels of e-coli, and were told not to drink the water. Also when the Saunders children showered they were told to cover their mouth and nose. A short time later they installed rural water to the farmstead. Since that time Primo Feedyards LLC has purchased the property and the Saunders have moved to Montana,” Gillespie said.

When the Saunder’s well was contaminated, there was 13 times the allowable limit of e-coli present. They paid for the expense of getting connected to rural water, with no help from the county. This story is important because it demonstrates the lack of enforcement when pollution occurs, and that citizens do not receive support from the county or businesses. If there is no way to ensure the safety of people’s drinking water, then these facilities should not continue to be built, especially in already concentrated areas. In spite of these

obvious environmental effects of concentrating CAFOs in the area, Primo feedlot LLC was approved by Lincoln County’s Planning and Zoning board to expand from 1,000 to 2,000 head of cattle. It is now up to the County Commission to stop this expansion. On April 5th at 8:30 am, The county commissioners will listen to public comments, and make a decision on whether Primo can expand.

What can you do?

  1. Write a Letter to the Editor! Send a letter to the local Lincoln County papers expressing your opposition to the County Commissioners continued support for expanding CAFOs. You can email them to:
  2. Come to the County Commission meeting on April 5th at 8:30 am. You can speak out against the expansion, or just show up. Help us fill the room! The more people who are present and opposed to this expansion puts pressure on the County Commissioners to listen. We are asking people to wear red. 

Use your vote to pressure your representative to be more stringent with CAFO regulations. Historically, the county commissioners in Lincoln County have been sympathetic to CAFOs and unilaterally supported these permits. Moving forward, DRA members will be working to educate community members on the harm factory farms cause to rural communities, and how they can use the upcoming elections to assure that their representatives listen to their constituents. Three county commissioners in the county are up for election and have challengers. If you live on the south side of Sioux Falls, in Lincoln county your vote could make a huge difference! Community members in these three districts can vote for the candidates that will be more stringent protecting small family farms, the environment, and the viability of rural communities for generations to come.