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Continued push back on proposed merger of ag with environment,natural resources state agencies

PIERRE, SD – The full Senate will get a chance to debate the proposed merger of the South Dakota Ag Department with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

The Senate Ag & Natural Resources Committee (Thursday morning) debated a Senate Resolution of Disapproval to the merger proposed by Governor Kristi Noem.

The Agropur Cheese Plant, a Canadian-owned firm located in Lake Norden, was found to have dumped the plant’s wastewater directly into the Big Sioux River, an example of how the states environmental agency acts as a watchdog for industrial polluters including those involving agricultural use.

Senator Troy Heinert of Mission says it needs to be heard by the full Senate. “This is big.  This a complete shift of how ag business and environmental business gets done in South Dakota,” the Senator said.  “And it deserves a full Senate debate. This is our only opportunity as legislators to weigh into this process.  All the crackerbarrels I attended -in predominantly ag counties – none of them supported this merger.” 

Senator Joshua Klumb of Mitchell supports the merger. “I believe that ag and enviornment go together hand in hand.  As a farmer, I don’t want dirty air or dirty water anymore than anyone else does.  I believe that a good steward of the land is what an agricultural producer should be.  They won’t have conflict if they’re good.  By not changing any laws or any regulations   with this merger, I don’t see those becoming endangered.”

The resolution of disapproval passed out of the committee with a do pass recommendation on a four to three vote.

A number of South Dakota ag, natural resource, and environmental organizations oppose the merger, including the state’s largest member-driven group, the South Dakota Farmer’s Union.

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