Amy Cordry: Legislation seeks to limit public say on factory farms

May 3, 2019

This fall, one of the largest dairies in Minnesota, in my county, proposed to expand by 3,000 cows. We had just 30 days to read thousands of pages of material and submit public comments on top of our normal responsibilities. That’s why we pushed for the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) to extend the public comment period by a month. They ended up extending it by two weeks. Corporate interests sued the MPCA over the extension and lost — I was in the courtroom. Thus, hundreds of folks had more time to read the proposal and comment. Because of this, corporate interests are trying to take away our rights by changing the law.

The Minnesota Senate Environment Finance Omnibus Bill (SF 2314) would limit the public comment period on proposed factory farms to 30 days unless approved by the project proposer. This would take away the authority of the commissioner of the MPCA to extend a comment period when in the best interest of the public and hand over that authority to the proposer. The public comment period is rarely extended — but is done to ensure the public has enough time to be part of the process. Our Legislators need to be told to stop this special-interest-driven provision that will take away our community voices. We deserve the right to have an equal voice when projects that have the potential to significantly affect our communities are proposed. If the process is to be trusted, it must be fair and transparent for all Minnesotans.

Amy Cordry, Winona

Editor’s note: Cordry is a member of the Land Stewardship Project