establishing a large-scale swine operation requires approval by county
voters. The new proposal would allow such operations with only the
approval of the county commission. If residents are unhappy with the
commission's decision, residents would have 60 days to draft an approved
protest petition and collect enough signatures -- 5 percent of voters
in the previous secretary of state contest -- to force the issue to a
The legislation apparently is being "fast-tracked," with little standing in its way to slow it down.
swine operations previously have been forced to go to a public vote for
good reason. The smell can ruin neighborhoods and potentially cause
significant pollution of waterways.
More concerning, however, is
that this legislation places the burden on voters to undo a bad
decision, while relieving the corporate swine operators of their duty to
assure the public that they will take steps to mitigate the negative
consequences of a large-scale hog farm.
swine operators, not the public, stand to gain the most from such
operations and therefore should carry the burden of proof that the
proposed facility would do no harm. Transferring that obligation to the
people -- who have little to gain directly but nevertheless must take
action to protect their interests -- is simply another example of how
our democratically elected government is placing corporate rights above
the rights of individuals.
Jason Probst is News Editor at The Hutchinson News.