Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Fitzgerald, Vos go to bat for more/bigger CAFOs, less regulation

Brown water alert.

How should Wisconsin deal with manure runoff and contaminated groundwater near those industrial-scale animal feedlot operations (CAFOs) which enjoyed minimal regulation as they expanded during the Walker pollution years? 


From GOP leaders Fitzgerald and Vos, one approach is no new siting rules for more and bigger CAFOs.

That's what the pollution party's top legislators said in a July 3rd demand to Bradd Pfaff, Secretary-designee of the Wisconsin Department of Ag, Trade and Consumer Protection, (DATCP).

At issue are rule changes proposed by DATCP staff that would add setback distances to CAFO operations and further separate them from nearby acreages.

Vos and Fitzgerald's letter says the new setback rules "could add significant new costs to existing and expanding CAFO operations and have a chilling effect on any future growth in the dairy industry...It appears that your staff is creating a solution in search of a problem."

The GOP leaders also call on their party's relevant committee chairs to reject the changes if the Ag department does not bend to the GOP leaders' will and withdraw the pro[osed changes.. 

The communication is accompanied by a more detailed June 28 letter of opposition from the Wisconsin Dairy Association.

During Walker's reign, CAFOs were a particularly pampered special interest:

lt'll be hard to do justice to the matter of the expansion of the industrial-scale dairy cattle and other other animal feeding operations known as CAFOs, as they impact neighboring and downstream groundwater, wells and streams, air quality, the credibility of government and regulation.
The consequences have been particularly severe where CAFOs are numerous, like Kewaunee County, where we have known since 2015 that about a third of wells there, and in other areas in NE Wisconsin, and the Central Sands to the west were contaminated.
One major fight over a CAFO expansion led to landmark litigation in 2014, and is continuing to this day, with Walker ally, Wisconsin GOP AG and friend to big water users Brad Schimel maneuvering the case to friendlier court confines in Waukesha County, a Republican hotbed far from NW Wisconsin and where he previously had served as DA. 
Here is one summary post:

WI Central Sands the next Flint? Kewaunee County already soaks up that honor.


Anonymous said...

If readers are interested in the recommendations from the DATCP review committee here is a link: https://datcp.wi.gov/Documents/LivestockSitingTECReport2019.pdf

I have heard a rumor that the scope statement for new rules is open and ready to go. Let's hope staff are allowed to follow through this time. This has been a long time coming and that Vos and Fitzgerald are worried is a good sign that change is afoot.

Anonymous said...

I think I like this new Governor and his appointees. Even if this goes nowhere it is great they are going take it to public comment.


MADISON, WI (Wisconsin Radio Network-WSAU) The state ag department is considering changes to how the state regulates large scale livestock farms. Those changes are now up for public comment.

The rule is designed to provide uniform local regulation of livestock facilities with 500 or more animal units. Kara O'Connor with Farmers Union is glad the board approved the draft rule for public hearings. "They made clear that they weren't endorsing every line and sentence of the rules, what they voted for is getting the public's input, and I think that's absolutely the right decision."

John Holevoet with the Dairy Business Association opposed the changes. "The question is, really, is this keeping what was originally envisioned by those who created livestock siting?"

Some towns and counties have tried to pass their own restictive zoning rules against mega-farms. The environmental rules and water quality standards are administered by the state.

DATCP staff say the present rule expires February 4th, and the updated rule would need the Legislature and Governor to approve it before then.