Supreme Court rejects feedlot issue
A bitter three-year fight over hog feedlots in Dodge County has finally come to an end with the Minnesota Supreme Court refusing to hear the case.
On June 28, the Supreme Court issued a three-line order denying a petition by Lowell and Evelyn Trom of rural Blooming Prairie to review the case, which has drawn national attention over the past several years.
“It’s a dead issue. It’s finally done,” said Paul Reuvers, attorney for Dodge County. “It’s not surprising that the Supreme Court rejected this case,” he said, noting that the court takes less than 10 percent of civil cases.
Reuvers said the decision comes as good news for the county so that it “can move on and focus efforts on more pressing issues.” He added the litigation cost the county through its insurance trust “tens of thousands of dollars.”
The case became frustrating for Reuvers and many others. “It’s unfortunate that our volunteers got attacked for their livelihood,” he said, pointing to the people who serve on boards like the planning commission. “It is hard to get public officials to serve,” he added.
For the Troms, the top court’s decision is disappointing. “After a lifetime of hard work and building a beautiful farm, it is sad to see corporate America put a large factory farm next door,” said Sonja Trom Eayrs, the daughter of the Troms who spearheaded the fight.
“There is no respect for the land, no respect for the hard-working families that settled this area and certainly no respect for the environment,” she said.
While the Trom family concedes they may have lost this particular court case, they haven’t thrown in the towel just yet. “This isn’t the end,” Trom Eayrs said. “It is simply the beginning of a renewed effort to see an end to corporate factory farms and rebuild farming communities,” she said.
The Troms are proud to “got the ball rolling” on the issue. “Now it is incumbent upon local citizens to help push corporations out of farm country,” Trom Eayrs said, adding she wonders how bad it has to get before people realize the damage that corporate America is inflicting upon rural areas.
“If Minnesotans want to see change regarding factory farms, they will need to take action in the legislature,” Trom Eayrs said. “Factory farms are ruining Minnesota with over 4,600 impaired waterways in our beautiful state.”
While Trom Eayrs acknowledges that a single lawsuit will not stop factory farms altogether, it can serve as a catalyst for change. “Change will come through education, joining together with others and seeking legislation change,” she said.
Trom Eayrs said a few simple actions might be taken to bring an end to factory farms. They include: voting with your fork, eating local and supporting the local butcher, local food co-op and local farmer’s market and contacting legislators to tell them to support independent farmers.
The nasty feedlot battle began in 2014 when the Dodge County Board approved a permit for Masching Farms to operate a hog farm on six acres of land. The Troms won the initial lawsuit.
But a short time later the County Board voted to change its rules and created a simpler application procedure.
The Troms sued again and ended up in front of a new judge because the county had the first one removed from the case. The issue went before an Olmsted County judge, who ruled in favor of the county.
Through their fight, the Troms had been urging county officials to address serious public health and environmental concerns related to factory farms.