County Board reaffirms support of animal ag
WILLMAR -- In case there was any doubt about their commitment to animal agriculture, the Kandiyohi County Commissioners adopted a resolution Tuesday reaffirming the importance of supporting the livestock sector of the local farming economy. The r...
WILLMAR - In case there was any doubt about their commitment to animal agriculture, the Kandiyohi County Commissioners adopted a resolution Tuesday reaffirming the importance of supporting the livestock sector of the local farming economy.
The resolution, essentially the same as one adopted back in 2004, was presented to the County Board at the request of the agriculture and renewable energy committee of the Kandiyohi County and City of Willmar Economic Development Commission.
Members of the EDC committee sat up and took notice when the County Board rejected a conditional use permit this past November for a proposed hog operation in the northern part of the county.
The commissioners didn't deny the permit outright. Instead they sent it back to the Planning Commission for more discussion after questions were raised about the hog farm's potential impact on neighboring property that lay across the border in Stearns County.
It isn't often that the Kandiyohi County Board refers a permit application back to the Planning Commission, whether for a livestock operation or other business enterprise.
But it sent ripples of concern through some in the ag community, especially when the applicant in this case withdrew the permit application.
There were questions: Does Kandiyohi County adequately support animal agriculture? Would other permit applications be turned down over potential issues with neighbors - and what would be the implications for the future of animal agriculture in the county?
The County Board sought to put those worries to rest Tuesday with their unanimous reaffirmation of the value of livestock production.
The board was rapped unfairly over perceptions that it lacked commitment to animal agriculture, said Commissioner Roger Imdieke.
"I don't believe that's the case" that the County Commissioners are lukewarm toward this sector of the local economy, he said.
The hog farm permit was a single situation that was "very fixable," he said.
Rollie Nissen, chairman of the board, voiced the same sentiment.
"I certainly support agriculture and I support economic development of all kinds," he said.
He said he had voted against the permit application but did so to allow the Planning Commission an opportunity to answer the questions that were raised.
There were some objections from Commissioner Steve Ahmann, who said he felt the request from the EDC committee to adopt the resolution was "politically motivated."
But Ahmann said he also supported the resolution. Kandiyohi County has historically supported agriculture and has land use requirements that are less stringent than many other counties, he said.
"I think we're very welcoming," he said.