County passes resolution in support of controlling CAFO livestock siting
By Joe Bachman
STEVENS POINT — County officials have passed an advisory resolution in support of controlling livestock on CAFO’s (Controlled Animal Feeding Operations).
Under Wisconsin’s livestock siting law, local governments are not required to have permits for livestock operations, both new or expanding. However, under a resolution, local governments can set standards and procedures for operations to use.
According to the resolution, CAFO’s have increased in size from 146 to 295 between 2005 and 2016. Officials are calling for more “stringent” control of these operations. As stated in the resolution:
“…opportunity for stronger local siting standards based on “reasonable and scientifically defensible findings of fact” that “clearly show that the standards are needed to protect the public health or safety.”
The Wisconsin Department of Health Services have stated that the improper management of CAFOs can lead to nuisance odors, noise, changes to air quality, and most notably, changes to groundwater use. This can negatively impact the quality of some groundwater and drinking water wells if mismanaged.
Tommy Enright, Communications Associate at Wisconsin Farmers Union, spoke out in favor of the resolution.
“What I’m trying to get at and what I’d like to reiterate is that as citizens of Portage County we know what’s best for our communities,” said Enright to board members. “Wisconsin towns and counties should have control over what’s going on in our own backyards. This is an opportunity for Portage County to take the lead on the issue.”
Rep. Katrina Shankland (D-Stevens Point) has also voiced support of the resolution. Shankland recently attended the Land & Water Conservation Committee in a show of her support.
“I believe the state should take a look at this for livestock siting. When it comes to CAFOs and the state’s ability to regulate them, it’s important to recognize that in past years, the DNR did not follow its own water quality rules 94 percent of the time, according to a 2016 audit. That suggests a need for additional oversight and protections on the local level.” said Shankland in a statement to the Gazette.
“The county’s advisory resolution simply expresses support for the state legislature to re-examine ATCP 51, the state’s livestock siting rules, and underscores support for local control regarding the issue. I think it’s a needed conversation, given how the state virtually preempts local governments from doing so, and am happy to support it. As vice chair of the Speaker’s Task Force on Water Quality, I am committed to hearing from constituents and community members as we travel around Wisconsin to hear their perspective on the state’s approach to water quality. Discussing livestock siting between the state and local governments is one way we can support homegrown solutions to the pressing water quality problems facing many communities in Wisconsin.”
The resolution would pass by a vote of 21-2.