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.

March 12, 2011
Letter to the Editor

March 12, 2011

To the Editor:

With the building season soon upon us, Wisconsin residents shouldn’t be surprised to see more factory farms (aka Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations, or CAFOs) being expanded or newly built. The DNR had some 50 new applications for this type of industrial animal production in the works. About 200 CAFOs are currently operating in Wisconsin.

There is precious little locally that can be done to restrict these, regardless of their threat to air and water quality. That’s because the Livestock Facility Siting Law, enacted in 2004, strictly limits the input of local governments. And if townships or counties try to protect local resources by putting conditional uses on the permits they issue to CAFOs, they are faced with the threat of expensive court battles. However, some innovative local governments are limiting where CAFOs can be located by passing, for example, nuisance ordinances for certain practices. In addition, local citizens can organize to bring up local concerns, question and review permits, and monitor local water.

Producers favor a uniform siting law, and such a concept might be plausible if 1) conditions across the state were uniform, and if 2) the regulations of the law could be monitored and enforced. Unfortunately neither is the case. Wisconsin varies greatly in its local topography, geology, soil cover, and water resources, all of which affect how wastes from these operations can be safely spread. And the DNR staff of enforcement personnel to monitor the CAFOs is vastly undersized. In Wisconsin’s Northeast Region, the DNR has only 3 enforcement staff members to cover 95 CAFOs.

Any operation that continuously generates millions of gallons of waste annually is inherently risky and a threat to the environment. The sheer amount of manure produced often overwhelms the ability of the land and crops to absorb it, and the nutrients then become toxic waste in our water. That’s why the Crawford Stewardship Project continues to support return of siting power to local governments who are familiar with local conditions.

Edie Ehlert, Crawford Stewardship Project