Dairy farm protesters could spike milk prices

Miranda Malo

Miranda Malo

Too late.

That’s what I think the citizens opposing eastern South Dakota dairies are: too late – at least to do anything about the ones that are already built.

This year more dairy farmers began to move into Brookings and Moody counties for two main reasons: they were asked to come here and it made economic sense.

A South Dakota delegation traveled to places as far away as England to recruit people to come and start dairies in the state. They want the dairies here because they will create rural jobs and increase the tax base. The new dairy owners were convinced to come here because this area favors dairy production. Not only is it close to crops, like corn and alfalfa, it is also close to processing plants. The cheese factories in Lake Norden and Milbank serve as great outlets for the milk produced in this area.

It seems like a win-win situation, right?

Not to some people.

Citizens in both counties have banded together to stop the new development. I’m sure that everyone has different reasons for opposing the dairies. Some fight in the name of the environment while others complain about the roadways. Some claim they will do nothing for the county while others just plain do not want a smelly agriculture operation in their backyards. Each of these people has a valid point and may have facts to support their argument, but I don’t think it should change what’s already happened.

The dairy farmers, many of whom came from other countries, have done everything they could to ensure that they are following our rules. The building permits were applied for, all the specifications were laid out, and permission was granted. Then suddenly outside people started to take interest in their operations, and now two of the farmers are fighting a nonsense battle in the state Supreme Court. How can we ask these farmers to come here, grant them permission to build, watch them do everything to a tee, and then threaten to take away their right to make a living?

If people are truly against dairy production they should stop it beforehand. They should try to change the zoning or environmental laws, not ruin innocent farmers.

I’m willing to bet that most of the people that filed suit against the two Moody County dairies drink milk, eat cheese and eat ice cream. Do they expect these things to be produced in far-off lands where whatever inconvenience the dairies are causing them will not be felt?

Without close-to-home dairies, a price increase at the local grocery store could be felt.

When milk prices hit record highs this summer, the consumer saw the increase. That happened, in part, because milk production fell as West Coast dairies went out of business. New dairies in this area mean more sellable product for the Midwest.

The dairies in Moody and Brookings counties won’t be flawless I’m sure, nor am I proposing that they’ll change the entire economics of our agricultural industry, I just think they deserve the fair chance they were promised.

Miranda Malo is a junior majoring in agriculture/journalism.To read previous coverage on the Moody County dairies, visit the Collegian archives at www.sdsucollegian.com.