Any way you look at it, farmers facing huge bill

Rochelle Krusemark appeared before Martin County commissioners this week to talk about proposed hikes in what farmers like herself pay for county inspections of feedlots. Krusemark made a compelling case about the value to the county of its feedlot industry as a major employer, and argued that fees paid by feedlot owners should not be the sole source of funding for inspections. She noted that other county services — law enforcement, Human Services, etc. — are borne by county taxpayers as a whole.

County Commissioner Elliot Belgard offered the rebuttal, saying that feedlot inspections are a very specific service, whereas everyone is entitled to law enforcement protection. He said feedlot owners make the profits, so they should foot the bill for inspections.

We would note on the side of feedlot owners that they did not request the inspection system. Rather, the county saw a need for this oversight, with a push from the public. We would also note that “profits” in the industry are not always readily apparent to those who sell the hogs.

What feedlot owners now face is a 100 percent increase in the fee they pay for inspections they may not want. They are looking at a bill of about $42,000 every four years. So this isn’t small change we’re talking about.

Perhaps there is a middle ground here … Maybe feedlot owners whose inspections show that their operations pose no threat to the environment or to worker safety could receive a rebate on their bill. Or maybe those whose operations show the opposite could pay higher fees?