Brown County is considering changes to its concentrated animal feeding operation regulations.
The county's planning and zoning board discussed the idea at its January meeting, but has yet to make any changes or decisions. A proposed breakdown of the class sizes for concentrated animal feeding operations is posted on the county's website brown.sd.us by selecting the CAFO ordinance update link on the blue bar at the top of the main page.
The change is being proposed for the smallest operations — Class D and Class E, according to the proposal. As the ordinance is written now, both Class D and Class E are for operations with zero to 300 animal units. An animal unit is a measurement based on waste production as opposed to actual number of animals. For example a feeder cow is one animal unit, but a breeding sow is 0.47 animal units.
A Class D operation has a potential water pollution hazard, and a Class E operation has no pollution hazard, according to the current ordinance.
With the change, Class D would be an operation with 30 to 299 animal units, and Class E would have 1 to 29.
Planning and Zoning Director Scott Bader said, by the ordinance, such operations must be on agricultural land with at least 40 acres.
Residents can provide input on the proposal at brown.sd.us/node/957. No deadline has yet been established.
Commission Chairwoman Rachel Kippley said the proposal is in response to concerns the county has heard about current regulations.
"The big thing we're hearing from producers is other counties, they don't start so low," she said.
She said the process is in the early stages, and it's not a quick fix. Other parts of the zoning ordinance will need to be addressed.
Kippley said in addition to the animal unit change for classes D and E, an adjustment in setbacks is also proposed. For Class D, the setback would be a quarter-mile from a house or business. For Class E, no setback is listed.
"We needed to throw something out there. We want to hear if it's too restrictive or not restrictive enough," she said. "We definitely don't want to change the ordinance based on one high emotionally charged situation. We want something that will work."