From document introduction:
The GEIS is a statewide study funded by the 1998 Minnesota Legislature. Environmental Quality Board was directed to “…examine the long-term effects of the livestock industry as it exists and as it is changing on the economy, environment, and way of life of Minnesota and its citizens”. The GEIS process was seen as a way to provide a full public examination of the critical environmental, economic and social factors of animal agriculture through a thorough, open stakeholder-guided process, to develop policy recommendations for the future and objective information that all decision-makers could use and rely on.
The need for this study grew out of the controversy surrounding feedlots in Minnesota in the 1990's. During the decade there was ever-increasing controversy over new and expanding large-scale confinement-type animal production facilities. Consistently raised were issues of potential contamination of the air, surface waters and groundwater, and the economic and social impacts of the expansion of feedlot operations.
All GEIS study phases involved input from a Citizen Advisory Committee (CAC) and the general public. The EQB appointed a 25-member CAC, representing groups involved in the animal agriculture issue. The CAC developed the recommendations approved by the EQB for all matters involving the scope and content of the GEIS, and the policy recommendations in the GEIS document.
The CAC developed a list of key topics and a number of study questions under each topic. These topics and the study questions became the primary basis of the scoping document, which was used to guide all further GEIS investigation and documentation. The scoping document topics were:
B. Land use
C. Role of government
D. Industry structure and competitiveness
E. Profitability and economic viability
F. External benefits and costs
H. Air quality and odor
J. Manure and crop nutrients
K. Human health
L. Animal health
The first phase of work consisted of an extensive review of published literature on the twelve topics in the scope. Findings were presented in 1999 in a 1500-page document referred to as the Literature Summary for the GEIS.
Many of the questions the CAC asked were only partially answered by the Literature Summary. In order to answer the most critical questions with the time and money available, CAC and EQB staff developed the wtudy work plan. For each topic addressed consultants contracted were to perform a variety of analyses. These results were compiled together into a final report termed a Technical Work Paper (TWP). The ten TWP’s that were produced totaled approximately 2,000 pages of text and data. There are several areas where there was insufficient time, money or information available to complete the assigned tasks.
Two TWPs were to provide information and data of more universal applicability. One was a TWP written to describe what animal agriculture is like and how it changed over the last several decades. This is called the Description of Animal Agriculture TWP. The other general TWP is a description and summary of efforts to inventory and locate to a specific geographical location information on the species and number of animal at all feedlots in each county across Minnesota. Geographical Information System (GIS) mapping techniques will be used to investigate geographical relationships between feedlots and other spatial factors.
This draft GEIS document was prepared by EQB staff by extracting the most relevant information from the TWPs and the Literature Summary. As a general rule, the chapters are organized according to the scoping study questions.
The GEIS is a generic or general document. It supplies broad information that can be used on a number of projects of the same general type. This Animal Agriculture GEIS does not in any way replace the need for a site-specific EAW or EIS on any individual project.
Many of the challenges and opportunities we experience are common to other U.S. states and Canadian provinces. As the world economy expands, local problems take on global aspects. The GEIS will help provide a better understanding of transboundary issues which are increasing in importance. The success of the final GEIS on Animal Agriculture will be measured by how well it informs government officials, project proposers and the public on animal agriculture and the extent to which the information is used in future decisions and policies made or enacted by Minnesota state and local governments.
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