ROSEBUD, S.D. - The Rosebud Sioux Tribe and the federal government recently
reached an agreement in a court settlement that will halt the expansion of
a large hog farming operation on the reservation.
The agreement, yet to be approved by U.S. District Court Judge Richard
Battey, would allow Sun Prairie, a Nebraska company, and a subsidiary of
Bell Farms Partnership of North Dakota to continue operating two farms but
would stop the construction of 11 proposed hog farms.
In 1998, the Rosebud Sioux Tribal Council entered into an agreement with
Bell Farms that would eventually create one of the largest hog production
operations in the country. The initial contract called for 13 hog farms;
the agreement will limit that to two. The two existing farms have 24 barns
that produce 2,000 hogs each per year and will continue to produce a
combined 96,000 hogs per year.
The original intent was to create economic development on the reservation,
but because of the tribal council's opposition to the farms and
environmental concerns that led to litigation, the additional farms were
not developed. The court consent now halts any further expansion.
"This was an important day for the Rosebud Sioux Tribe and its members.
Though the hog farm deal was not made during this term, this administration
and council had to decide the issue. I commend the Rosebud Tribal Council
for its leadership," said Charles Colombe, Rosebud tribal president.
This settlement achieves the following for the tribe:
Limits the number of farms Sun Prairie can build to the existing two
instead of 13;
Limits the term of the lease to a maximum of 20 years instead of 50 years;
Provides the tribe with rental payments of $60,000 per year per farm;
Relieves the tribe of the burden of paying any state or county taxes
imposed on the Sun Prairie facility or operation now or in the future;
Pays the tribe $15,000 per year for water at the site on which the wells
have been drilled, and pays the tribe for water from the tribal water
system at the rate of $1.35 per 1,000 gallons for three years and $1.50 per
1,000 gallons thereafter;
Pays the tribe the sum of $131,000 for past water usage; and
Sun Prairie will develop a pilot study to evaluate and environmental
impacts of nutrient materials and how they affect land applications.
The tribe will make available 100 acres in order to test the results of
this study. Further, in order to meet environmental standards, Sun Prairie
will conduct annual inspections of plastic liners that are used to hold
waste in digesters.
Sun Prairie will also maintain records of inspections as they pertain to
Since the hog farm lease agreement was announced, environmental groups such
as the Concerned Rosebud Area Citizens, Humane Farming Association and the
South Dakota Peace and Justice Center, continued an unrelenting
intervention to shut the project down.
In 1999 a new tribal council began the work of trying to stop the growth of
the hog farm, and in 2003 the BIA was asked to shut the operation down. The
Department of Interior withdrew the lease; Sun Prairie then filed the
complaint in 1999 and continued to fight the tribe and the federal
government in order to keep the hog operation open.
The tribe and the federal government then filed motions to dismiss, which
the court denied. Nearly two years ago, Battey ruled that the lease
termination did not comply with due process and found the lease to be
Bell Farms Chief Executive officer Greg Fontaine said the agreement was
good and fair to all parties, and that each group achieved some of their
objectives. Most of the original details of the lease agreement would not
be significantly changed.
The terms of the agreement allow Sun Prairie the right to operate the two
farms for a maximum of 20 years. The original lease extended the lease for
50 years. After 15 years, the tribe could exercise the option to purchase
the facilities for one-half the fair market value.