Hearings focus on rules for CAFOs

    Wisconsin dairy cows in large animal feeding operation
    Wisconsin dairy CAFO (Photo courtesy of Wisconsin DNR)

    Hearings begin today on proposed revisions to state rules affecting CAFOs (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations) and similar large scale livestock facilities, and they promise to generate opposition from farm operations the rules target, support from environmental and small farm groups — and demands for even stricter regulation of the operations. 

    The state regulations under review limit the power local governments have to regulate new or expanded livestock facilities. The state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection’s proposed revisions are the first since the rule — known as ATCP 51 — was established in 2006.

    The proposed regulation change would enable stronger rules to combat odors from large operations and grant local governments a bigger say in the permitting process for large livestock facilities. 

    Groups representing larger farms, such as the Dairy Business Association, have been mobilizing opposition after having lost the battle to block the rule revision and accompanying hearings.

    Support for the proposed rule change comes from the Wisconsin Farmers Union, whose membership consists generally of smaller farms, along with environmental organizations such as the Sierra Club. Some groups, even as they support proposed revisions, are also calling for further tightening regulations on big livestock operations.

    Hearings will take place in six communities, with sessions in each one from 1-4 p.m. and 5-8 p.m.:

    • Oshkosh: Thursday, Aug. 15; James P. Coughlin Center, 625 E. County Road Y.
    • Eau Claire: Monday, Aug. 19; Chippewa Valley Technical College, 620 W. Clairemont Ave.
    • Wausau: Tuesday, Aug. 20, Entrepreneurial & Education Center, 100 N. 72d Ave.
    • Madison: Thursday, Aug. 22, State Agricultural Building, 2811 Agriculture Drive.
    • Onalaska: Wednesday, Sept. 4, Stoney Creek Hotel and Conference Center, 3060 S. Kinney Coulee Road;
    • Spooner: Thursday, Sept. 5, DNR Service Center, 810 W. Maple St.

    DATCP will also accept comments through Friday, Sept. 13, delivered at one of the hearings in writing or in spoken presentations; via email at  [email protected]​; online or by mail to DATCP-ARM, P.O. Box 8911, Madison, WI 53708.

    Erik Gunn
    Senior Reporter Erik Gunn reports and writes on work and the economy, along with related subjects, for the Wisconsin Examiner. He spent 24 years as a freelance writer for Milwaukee Magazine, Isthmus, The Progressive, BNA Inc., and other publications, winning awards for investigative reporting, feature writing, beat coverage, business writing, and commentary. An East Coast native, he previously covered labor for The Milwaukee Journal after reporting for newspapers in upstate New York and northern Illinois. He's a graduate of Beloit College (English Comp.) and the Columbia School of Journalism. Off hours he is the Examiner's resident Springsteen and Jackson Browne fanboy and model railroad nerd.

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