The Rural Vitality Committee is actively looking for people interested in joining and supporting sustainable agriculture efforts in South Dakota and growing more vibrant agricultural community across our state. Contact DRA staff at or call 605-697-5204 if you want to join or ask more questions.

Why you should join…

The state of South Dakota has seen an increase of Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO’s) during the past few years. Most of the increase is due to the state’s courting of mega-dairies from other states. In addition to huge 5000 cow dairies, large hog farms are making their appearance also.

CAFO applications to a local zoning board are usually met with opposition from neighbors who are concerned about odor, manure, and other environmental issues

Because of the concerns expressed by so many, Dakota Rural Action, a statewide grassroots conservation and family farm organization, organized the Rural Vitality Committee. An organizational meeting held in May connected concerned citizens from across the state to develop a mission statement, goals, and a plan to achieve the goals.

In support of the committee’s mission to “..lead South Dakota toward a knowledgeable, working understanding of the relationship between agriculture and the environment..” the Rural Vitality Committee’s two main goals are to get the DENR (Department of Environment and Natural Resources) to update the state’s General Water Pollution Control Permit application and to develop and propose a version of the Family Farm Act to be introduced to the 2016 Legislature.

The permit application being used by the DENR became effective on October 20, 2003. It expired in 2008 and has not been renewed. Considering the major changes in agriculture and CAFO sizes since that time, the Rural Vitality Committee feels that updating the permit to current EPA regulations and including other environmental concerns to the permit is a necessity to keep South Dakota healthy.