On the evening of May 8, the Goodhue County commissioners will conduct a hearing regarding language proposed by owners of the Circle K factory hog farm. This language, if adopted, would shelter Circle K and all other hog operations of similar size from the neighbors' legal means of protecting the use, enjoyment and value of their own property. This would leave the Goodhue County Board as the only party with power to hold the Circle K or any other hog feedlot of its size, accountable for violation of the odor standard.
The House of Representatives released the draft 2018 farm bill. It is a complicated and traditionally bipartisan effort every five years that oversees crop insurance, food assistance and other important programs that affect all of us directly or indirectly. The draft farm bill overall cuts farm conservation programs by over $1 billion. It ignores previous proposed legislation that focuses on soil health and water quality within existing conservation programs. It eliminates the funding and authority for Conservation Stewardship Program, the nation's largest conservation program.
On May 8 the Goodhue County Board is to consider changes to the way feedlots are regulated by the county. Some facts: Over 1,000 feedlots are known to Goodhue County. Most of these are small operations unlikely to cause major problems. But a significant number house hundreds or thousands of "animal units" and have the potential to cause water pollution problems and to stink people out of their homes. Regulation of feedlots by Goodhue County has in some ways been slightly stricter than the state minimums, and this is a good thing.
HOPE Coalition creates resilience and offers to families the chance to live a full life. The challenge of our community is to support each other. HOPE recognizes the difficulties that families are living and offers on-going resources to assist in their children's growth and development. On May 3 the children will be celebrated. Festivities planned by HOPE at the grounds that surround the Goodhue County History Center will give a fun day to all ages.
Here is the calculation for our property tax increase should the Goodhue School referendum pass: $757.52 per year or $63.13 per month. We are retired and are appalled at this increase to our property taxes. How will we absorb the cost? I don't know; something will have to be cut back if this referendum passes. That represents almost a 38 percent increase in our taxes. Residential homesteads and agriculture face a tax burden of nearly 65 percent of the cost of this referendum even with the Ag2school tax credit.
We'd like to squelch a rumor. Ever since a state legislative committee in December rejected a federal grant for environmental work on higher-speed passenger rail, we've been asked over and over if that impacts the second train to Chicago project. The answer is no. The Twin Cities-Milwaukee-Chicago Second Train proposal is moving forward. Planning work continues. We're ready to take the next steps. And we need your support to get it done.
I read Rep. Barb Haley's column on the possible MNCare Buy-in with great interest. While I agree with Haley on many issues, this is not one of them. Health care premiums continue to be a major burden for independent business people, including farmers like myself. I applaud her efforts to study the problem, but we need help now.
Last Monday, Goodhue County Planning Advisory Commission voted 5-3 to accept the Land-use Management's proposed changes to the county ordinance (Article 11 - Performance Standards, Section 24 — Preservation of Farming Practices). I believe this was the wrong decision for the wrong reasons.
April is National Donate Life Month, honoring eye, tissue and organ donors, and the life-saving and life-changing gifts they have given. Each year in the United States, more than 82,000 people experience restored sight through cornea transplants, more than 30,000 life-saving organ transplants are performed, and more than 1.5 million people receive life-changing tissue transplants. One person, donating everything possible, could help save or change the lives of more than 75 people.
Making health insurance more affordable and ensuring access to care are key elements of Gov. Mark Dayton's proposed MinnesotaCare buy-in. Unfortunately, Rep. Barb Haley misinterpreted those and other components in her April 15 column. After initial start-up costs, premiums would cover the costs of care enrollees receive. Those premiums — an average of $659 per person per month — would be an estimated 28 percent lower than the expected cost of commercial health plans. A reserve would be created using funds already appropriated to support the insurance market.