Gov. Kristi Noem has proposed a series of reforms to increase and improve state oversight of privately run youth treatment homes, including hiring of more inspectors and requiring the first-ever unannounced inspections. Noem's recommendations came after a South Dakota News Watch investigation into abuse of residents and lax state oversight of the Aurora Plains Academy youth home in Plankinton, S.D.
Overall retail sales have climbed steadily in South Dakota in recent years, but who is getting the revenue, and how, is changing. As online retail continues to surge, chain stores grow in number and low-priced dollar stores arrive in small towns in droves, maintaining a successful brick-and-mortar small retail business continues to be a challenge.
Whether it is hogs, cattle, chickens or turkeys, South Dakota farmers who operate concentrated animal feeding operations take pride in their work and feel good about the foods they produce. In this article, part of a two-week special report on the growth of concentrated animal feeding operations, South Dakota News Watch reporter Bart Pfankuch takes readers behind the barn walls for a tour of three South Dakota livestock operations and provides insight into the farmers who are part of a trend of expansion of large livestock farms.
Officials, including governor, say tax rebate program can encourage new economic development and add value to existing farms. But opponents say program unfairly pushes counties to approve large livestock projects.
As the majority of livestock production in America has moved to concentrated animal feeding operations, new and expanding research has increasingly shown a correlation to the farms and human health problems, environmental issues and possibly the rise of antibiotic-resistance illnesses.
PART 1 OF A 2-WEEK SERIES: South Dakota livestock production is undergoing a major transition with the expansion of concentrated animal feeding operations, or CAFOs, in which thousands and even millions of animals are raised in a confined space. The large livestock operations are efficient and profitable, but they can also harm human health and damage the environment. As opposition rises, state government is offering financial incentives to counties that approve new projects. Along the way, the farms are sowing heated division in many rural communities and stoking fears South Dakota may end up like CAFO-heavy Iowa, which has seen fish kills and waterway pollution.
THIS WEEK: Overview of CAFO growth in S.D.; Health concerns follow CAFOs; New state program provides financial incentives for CAFOs.
NEXT WEEK: A visit to three large S.D. livestock operations
Residents in wide swaths of rural South Dakota do not have access to primary medical care, let alone specialist care. Medical schools, including the University of South Dakota, are graduating more doctors than ever, but those young doctors do not have enough residency opportunities to complete their training to work on their own. The problem has heightened barriers to access to health care in rural areas of the state.
A 2017 law in South Dakota created the "professional midwife" certification to regulate the practice of home births by lay midwives who previously were not state certified or regulated. But a top state medical official is concerned about safety of home births by professional midwives who are required to have far less clinical training and education than "nurse midwives" who have been regulated in the state for 40 years.
St. Joseph's Catholic school near Chamberlain, funded by millions in donations, provides a full-service education that has paid off in high achievement among its Native American students. A school official said that the school's approach and achievement can be replicated somewhat at schools with lower per-student expenditures.
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