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Scott VanderWal, SD Farm Bureau President
Brenda Dreyer, SDFB
Scott VanderWal, SD Farm Bureau President

Ag organization votes against industrial hemp, hopes to standardize CAFO permitting process

Jerry Oster, WNAX - November 26, 2019

SIOUX FALLS, SD - South Dakota Farm Bureau delegates debated resolutions regarding industrial hemp and livestock zoning at their 102nd annual convention in Sioux Falls. 

President Scott VanderWal says the organization is not supporting the legalization of industrial hemp in South Dakota, even though USDA has released federal rules governing the production of the crop.https://www.facebook.com/

“We had a resolution brought from one of our counties to approve the production of industrial hemp in South Dakota and our delegates voted that down,” says VanderWal.  “We’ll stay neutral on that even though our American Farm Bureau policy does support it.” He added, “Our Governor, Kristi Noem has made it very clear that she does not intend to support that so we won’t get into a shouting match over it.”

He says there are many questions that still need to be answered about the market for industrial hemp before South Dakota farmers start producing the alternative crop.

“There’s quite a few pitfalls and things to watch out for in producing hemp.  When we’ve talked to those in states that have been into it already – Wisconsin, Kentucky, South Carolina - they’ve told us stories  that give us some things to watch out for.” He added, “We’ll continue to watch this as it progresses and I think we can educate some folks along the way.” 

VanderWal says delegates also voted down a resolution to develop a statewide matrix for livestock zoning for concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFO).

“I think that failed because people are looking more towards changing what is now called a conditional use permit – to a permitted use,” he says.  “So once a county puts an ordinance in place, get the big fight over and have the public vote. Then, get it on a piece of paper so people can go in and ask what they have to do to put up an CAFO or expand one.  And if you follow the requirements on that piece of paper, you get the permit.”

He says producers want some type of standardized zoning that will provide certainty.  “We’ve had numerous cases in South Dakota where all the background work is done, the money is spent, and the county zoning board turns them down based on emotion,” says VanderWal.   

He continues, “There are those instances when a whole bunch of neighbors who are maybe 10 miles away – or maybe they’re not even neighbors, maybe they are out-of-state people - come and intimidate a zoning board. They talk them into turning down the conditional use permit,” adding, “That deters an awful lot of people from even looking at our state. That’s what we’re trying to eliminate.”

Phone number: 605-347-4455
E-mail: [email protected]
Address: 1612 Junction Avenue, Suite #1
Sturgis, SD 57785