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Letter: Time to get tough on confinement buildings

By Mike Handzus, Lakefield We cannot afford to send ag products to China, Most of the pork today is raised by corporations or absentee owners. They draw down the aquifers, and destroy township roads with heavy truck traffic back and forth from co...

By Mike Handzus, Lakefield

We cannot afford to send ag products to China, Most of the pork today is raised by corporations or absentee owners. They draw down the aquifers, and destroy township roads with heavy truck traffic back and forth from confinement buildings.

 

There are only a few actual farmers that raise hogs that are given access to the outdoors. The rest live in confinement over a slatted floor, and they inhale air from the sewage pit beneath them.

 

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A 200-pound hog will generate approximately one gallon of waste per day and consume about two to four gallons of water per day. Do the math on what a barn of 2,000 to 4,000 hogs consumes and generates in one day, much less for any longer period of time.

 

Then, you take all of this waste and spread or inject it in on the ground, which contaminates groundwater. Or, if it makes its way into a tile line or stream, that’s also contamination of an already diminishing resource.

 

If this isn’t bad enough, there is an obscure law in Minnesota that in 1967 gave an exemption to property used for control of air or water pollution. Then, in 1993, the legislature gave manure pits and appurtenances, such as slatted floors, exemptions from property tax. So, as an example, a new confinement building that can cost more than one million dollars only has to pay tax on the upper portion of the building, while the floors and pits are not taxed. This can amount to a tax break of $500,000. No wonder these are being put up all over.

 

For the water they use and the waste they generate, it is like putting up a city on every section without any restrictions. If a neighbor’s well goes dry, this confinement down the road has no liability, so while assessments on pole buildings went up six percent and grain bins went up 17 percent, these confinements enjoy the tax break. Meanwhile, at the same time, they’re depleting our resources, destroying the roads and creating untold pollution from these permanent sewers.

 

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Township, county and state officials need to address this problem. They must put an end to their tax exemptions and stop the expansion of these factory confinement buildings before all of rural America is destroyed. There has been too much leeway given for far too long.

Related Topics: AGRICULTURE
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