Dairy groups, state chamber fight a Wisconsin local CAFO ordinance

Two farm organizations and a Wisconsin business group are pushing back against what they call an illegal local ordinance against large farms.

Venture Dairy Cooperative and the Wisconsin Dairy Alliance are working through the Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce Litigation Center.  They have sent a letter to the Polk County Town of Laketown for over-regulating concentrated animal feeding operations, or CAFO’s.

The letter to Laketown’s clerk says their ordinance contains at least 16 provisions that are preempted by state law and are illegal including several local fees, requirements for compliance testing, water use plans, construction, fire, and road plans, and what’s called an odor and toxic air pollution prevention plan.

Attorney Scott Rosenow at Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, the state’s chamber of commerce is representing the ag groups and four Polk County farms.  The letter says unless Laketown repeals the ordinance, the claimants will ask the Polk County Circuit Court for relief and an injunction preventing Laketown from enforcing the ordinance.

This is not the only resistance to local livestock siting ordinances in northwestern Wisconsin.  The towns of Eureka in Polk County and Trade Lake in Burnett County have passed similar restrictions and the Polk County towns of Bone Lake, Luck and Sterling have proposed similar ordinances.  One of the provisions would even limit the hours of operation at a farm. The Dairy Business Association (DBA) and Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative say the ordinances are “outlandish” and have written to the Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection’s livestock facility siting staff, asking for a material review of all six of the town ordinances.

Wisconsin’s livestock siting law preempts all local attempts to create their own CAFO guidelines unless one of eight narrow statutory exceptions applies.

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