Crawford Stewardship Project works to protect the environment of Crawford County and neighboring regions from threats of polluting and extractive industries, to promote sustainable land use, environmental justice, and local control of natural resources

Crawford Stewardship Project is a nonprofit organization.
Donations are tax deductible.

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Send a check to:
Crawford Stewardship Project
P.O. Box 284
Gays Mills, WI 54631


Crawford Stewardship Project is grateful for the generous support of RESIST, Inc. RESIST funds and supports grassroots groups organizing on the frontlines of the peace, economic, social, and environmental justice movements.

“We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.” ~Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac

"CAFOs are only profitable because so much of the cost and damage is externalized onto the environment, neighbors and wildlife. The monitoring, supervision, clean-up, restitution, fines are not happening, thus the true cost of CAFOs never find the way onto the balance books." Talking point from the CAFO Conference.

“A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise.”
~Aldo Leopold, 1948. A Sand County Almanac.

Livestock Siting Law Rule Review Comments
to DATCP Staff and Board

February 18, 2010

Crawford Stewardship Project board and supporters have been actively reviewing the first CAFO application in Crawford County since August 2007. In addition, we have attended all County Land Conservation Committee meetings, County Board meetings, many DATCP Board meetings and Livestock Siting Review Board meetings on this issue. Many of us are also on our township Land Use Planning Committees and Commissions. We have knowledge and experience on ATCP51 in action in our rural county.

We are the first county in the state to pass a local Livestock Siting Ordinance under ATCP51. Our county was proud to be taking action on directing livestock siting here in our county—or so we thought. The actual experience has been one of frustration and ineffectual efforts because the law stymies both the local government and citizens at every turn. Our story points to some of the most egregious aspects of the Rule and Law.

  • The local livestock siting ordinance aspect of the law caps fees at $1000. That fee does not begin to cover the actual workload of county staff, much less pay to bring in expert review of the application. Counties need to set their own fees.
  • The timeline required under the state law is insufficient for substantial county review.
  • The county was pressured by DATCP staff and the industry to accept the application despite concerns about the manure values used in the Nutrient Management Plan and the small acreage for spreading manure, as well as the vulnerability of our karst geology in the region. The county was told they could expect lawsuits if they did not accept the application. It was their job to see that the forms were filled out and DATCP and the DNR would take care of the rest of the issues. So in the end, our county accepted the application, but carries a great deal of responsibility and liability and has little control over this facility.
  • Twenty-nine neighbors challenged the county’s ruling with the Livestock Siting Board. Our county officials did not show up at the meeting to defend their action. The Board reversed the county decision—for three weeks. We cannot know what pressures ensued that caused the board to reverse that decision three weeks later in favor of the facility. Meanwhile, this entire facility was built before it received licenses and permits. DNR did not approve the engineering, and we have seen no engineering reports while the facility was being built despite repeated requests. Allowing building to proceed before all licenses and permits are in place virtually guarantees a facility will be allowed to operate because of inherent threats of lawsuits by this backwards process. This is a travesty in and of itself.
  • To add insult to injury, this facility has been over the 1000 animal unit limit without its WPDES permit during the past 2 years by admission of the owner. The DNR has merely sent 2 letters of noncompliance. No further action has been taken.
  • The neighbors of this facility continue to complain of air quality at times so foul that they gag. The odor control formula has been useless in protecting health and quality of life and needs to be completely redone. This facility is also located right on the Lower Wisconsin Riverway. Distances from homes, schools, and other natural and cultural places need to be greatly increased.
  • Land Use Planning Committees were formed in most of our townships and in the county. Repeatedly, committees realized there is little we can do to zone to affect CAFO siting, despite broad concern expressed in local surveys of landowners. If we zone agricultural, the law requires that we include CAFOs. We can make “sacrifice zones” for CAFOs. Which residents do we choose for the fate of seriously reduced quality of life and threatened drinking water quality? No township here is going to do that to their residents and landowners.
  • We cannot address local environmental, economic, or social concerns with this law. Supposedly we can address health and safety. Crawford Stewardship Project presented volumes of health and safety issues to the county and state along with expert testimony of water quality concerns. These were ignored. To do a local study would take hundreds of thousands of dollars. Even if we could possibly come up with the money, the time frame allowed for an application would be prohibitive. In other words, “health and safety” is an empty choice, impossible to use by local governments.
  • We are now in the WPDES permitting process with this CAFO. The major concerns remain that were first expressed over 2 years ago. There is not enough land to safely spread the 1.5 million gallons of manure annually adjacent to DNR designated exceptional and impaired waterways. The engineering never received approval, the county is still holding the liability, and the neighbor’s quality of life and air quality is unacceptable. One of the neighbors recently expressed how badly they want to move. No one would buy their home, so they are stuck in a place that used to be their little dream home and farm, where they have lived for over 30 years. The karst geology of the area remains a concern as well as proximity to the Wisconsin River with Natural Areas and state endangered and threatened species of plants and animals near by.
  • Presumption of compliance within the law makes it completely unworkable for local residents and government. No runoff management standards apply if a facility has a WPDES permit. A permit has never been refused, and monitoring and enforcement are negligible.

Our story covers issues of the Livestock Siting Law Rule, the Law itself, and the DNR Rules. Our drinking water and air belong to all of us. We know that the state has put our resources and health in the hands of the CAFO industry. And we do not accept that fate, but demand a return to local control on livestock sting.

Please plan to attend the Public Hearing on the Roth CAFO WPDES Permit on March 18 at 1:00 at the Wauzeka Town Hall in Wauzeka.


Edie Ehlert
Crawford Stewardship Project Coordinator

Cc: Senator Dan Kapanke and Representative Lee Nerison