February 2010


La Crosse Tribune columnist Joe Orso had an excellent column in today’s paper.  Beginning with a quote from Wauzeka farmer Fred Hausler, who explains that living downwind from a hog farm can be miserable (“You pretty near want to throw up when you go outside”), Joe goes on to explain in clear terms why the Livestock Siting Law is so damaging to rural communities:

Critics of the rule say odor regulations are inadequate, distance requirements between factory farms and neighbors should be increased, and fees local governments can charge for an application should not be capped at $1,000.  But while they’d like to see changes made on these fronts, they hope the listening sessions lead to a broader shift in how Wisconsin manages large-scale agriculture.  “The changes we can make to the rule won’t really get to the root of the problem because the problem is embedded in the statute itself,” said Jamie Saul, staff attorney for Midwest Environmental Advocates.

Citizens around the state will use DATCP’s series of listening sessions to explain not only the failings of the rules governing the siting and expansion of massive livestock facilities, but also the cruel effects of the Siting Law itself.  For more information on how you can be a part of these listening sessions, see MEA’s website.

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DNR released its long-awaited draft CAFO General Permits (GPs) for public comment on Friday, triggering a 60-day opportunity for the public to review the permit terms and conditions and submit comments to the agency.

Use of GPs in lieu of Individual Permits represents a step backwards in the level of scrutiny for CAFOs under the Wisconsin Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (WPDES) permitting program.  While the same regulatory requirements will continue to apply under the GPs, the DNR is giving up the opportunity to draft each CAFO permit as needed to protect unique local surface waters.  DNR will also not prepare an Environmental Analysis for each individual CAFO.

DNR has stated that its intentions are to increase staff resources available for CAFO inspections and compliance investigations (which have been abysmal recently) but the agency has not been forthcoming with any new policies or protocols to ensure his happens.  Will this represent another step in the dismantling of the CAFO program?  Contact DNR to make sure the answer is no!

See DNR’s Public Notice to see when and where DNR will hold public hearings on the permits and learn how to submit comments.