Coalition produces their livestock report response

Authors tout farmer input

By Carol Stender

WILLMAR, Minn. -- A coalition of Minnesota farm groups last week released their response to Gov. Tim Pawlenty's Livestock Advisory Task Force report.

Minnesota Farmers Union, Minnesota COACT, Minnesota National Farmers Organization, the Sustainable Farming Association of Minnesota and the Land Stewardship Project unveiled their report to more than 200 people in Willmar.


The joint report was touted for including input from producers and talking about farmer numbers, not just animal numbers.

Most township and county officers who attended support the Citizens Task Force's call to uphold their rights to pass ordinances regulating development including large feedlots. A group of Wisconsin farmers asked the crowd to "not follow our example."

Wisconsin lawmakers passed legislation earlier this year that establishes a livestock facility siting review board. Farmers who have permits refused at the local level can appeal to the board whose members are appointed by the Wisconsin secretary of agriculture. The board can overturn decisions by local officials.

"Most of the farmers didn't even know about this until it was passed," said John Kingsma, a Wisconsin farmer. "I urge you not to give up local control."

Such controls could allow bureaucrats in St. Paul to decide the type of farming they want, said Doug Peterson, MFU president.

"I think there's an effort to steam roll this through," he said. "We are concerned about the number of farmers vs the number of cows."

The report offers recommendations on many agricultural and rural life issues ranging from programs to encourage young people to become livestock farmers to strengthening Minnesota's corporate farm law.

Organizers want those attending the hearing to get involved by signing a card addressed to Gov. Tim Pawlenty noting concern over the Livestock Advisory Task Force's recommendations. The cards have been handed out in the Twin Cities where many citizens were uninformed about the task force's recommendations.

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