South Dakota agriculture groups united to express outrage at the most recent delay in a series of antics staged by opponents of the Dakota, Minnesota and Eastern Railroad’s (DM&E) attempts to deliver economic benefits to South Dakotans through rail line upgrades.
The South Dakota Corn Growers Association, South Dakota Farm Bureau, South Dakota Farmers Union, South Dakota Grain and Feed Association, South Dakota Soybean Association, South Dakota Wheat, Inc. and the South Dakota Association of Coops are unanimously disappointed at today’s legal tactics to stall the DM&E’s expansion project. Each delay further denies farmers and small towns the opportunity for better crop prices and job creation that the DM&E would bring.
A hearing scheduled for today which would have allowed the DM&E to make a formal request for eminent domain to extend its east-west line into Wyoming’s Powder River Basin was derailed at the eleventh hour late Monday afternoon.
“Enough is enough. The DM&E upgrade has been 10 years in the making; it is critical with our projected record corn and wheat harvests that we have the infrastructure to get it to the marketplace,” said Reid Jensen, president of the South Dakota Corn Growers Association (SDCGA).
Ten years ago South Dakota produced 27 million gallons of ethanol; in 2007 the state’s ethanol plants will produce over a billion gallons of ethanol with no new rail upgrades. South Dakota will only use 35 million gallons of ethanol, so the balance needs to find markets outside of the state.
South Dakota stands to gain a $6 billion economic engine through the DM&E project which would not only drive momentum in marketing the state’s agricultural resources but also bring vitality to small communities and would provide over 6,000 jobs.
The DM&E has worked for several years with landowners who would be impacted by the rail line expansion. Over 60 percent of the 133 impacted landowners are already cooperating with the DM&E and the hearing delay places them in limbo waiting to know the outcome of their property.
“The DM&E has worked to build relationships with those who have land along the rail lines and the DM&E has acted in good faith on behalf of these individuals,” said Scott VanderWal, president of the South Dakota Farm Bureau.