Around the LWV UMRR region, confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs) are increasing in number steadily. The demand for animal products, pork, beef, chicken, dairy products, has lead to this growth.
The growing number of hog confinements has many Iowans looking for increased controls on their growth. The Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier has a series of articles authored by Kristin Guess on CAFOs. The July 29 article looks at the chafing of local governments who are limited in their ability to regulate CAFO siting. A 2017 petition
filed by environmental groups Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement and Food & Water Watch was denied. Attempts to pass legislation in the 2018 legislature also failed, and the debates go on. Critics note more than 97 percent of proposed facilities are approved, often over objections of neighbors and counties voicing environmental concerns.
According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, in Wisconsin, the number of CAFOs has grown by 400% from 50 in 2000 to 252 in 2016, agency figures show. This has played a key role in growing milk production as farm numbers fall. The dairies are very different from the small dairies of earlier times. The video below, from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel online, describes a modern dairy operation in Kewaukee County with 6500 cows.
Four environmental advocacy groups—Clean Water Action Council of Northeast Wisconsin, Friends of the Central Sands, Milwaukee Riverkeeper and the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation—challenged the settlement on the basis that the agreement, negotiated behind closed doors, changed DNR pollution permitting policies and rules without going through the official rulemaking process. A January 11 ruling by Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge William Pocan is being heralded by clean water groups as a win for public health and transparent government. Judge Pocan sided with the environmental groups represented by Midwest Environmental Advocates when he ruled that an agreement between the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and the State’s largest dairy business lobby violated state law. The decision is an affirmation of DNR's authority to protect water quality through the science-based application of state law intended to prevent pollution from Wisconsin’s largest concentrated livestock feeding operations.
UPDATE - JANUARY 18, 2019 - Wisconsin Supreme Court asked to rule on WI DNR authority to regulate agribusiness - click here.