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.

Support CSP
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.

CAFO Regulation

Citizens Memorandum of Understanding

This Memorandum of Understanding (“MOU”) between numerous community-based organizations dedicated to protecting Wisconsin’s public health and safety, environmental resources, sustainable family farms, and rural quality of life (“Citizens”), and the Department of Natural Resources (“DNR”) (collectively, the “Parties”) outlines a transparent, law-based approach to regulating Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (“CAFOs”). This MOU is meant to ensure that CAFOs are held accountable to the law and do not violate the rights of Wisconsin citizens. It also reaffirms the DNR’s role as protector of Wisconsin’s natural resources, serving all Wisconsin’s citizens, and not the corporate livestock facilities it regulates.


The Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) granted authority to implement the Clean Water Act point source program in Wisconsin to the DNR. This delegation reflects the fact that the DNR alone has the mission of protecting water quality and natural resources, and possesses the technical expertise to do so. DATCP, on the other hand, has the distinctly dissimilar role of promoting agriculture in Wisconsin.

In its 2009 MOU with DATCP, DNR agreed to share certain aspects of the CAFO permitting program with DATCP, including review of Nutrient Management Plans. As these plans are part of CAFOs’ WPDES permits, this review falls under the sole authority of DNR, and DNR cannot transfer or share that authority without approval from EPA. To do so also creates an unworkable conflict of interest for DATCP, which now must regulate and promote the same industry. DATCP review of engineering plans and specifications, although not part of the program delegated to DNR by the EPA, also creates a conflict of interest. DNR has the technical expertise to review construction and design plans with discharges and water quality impacts in mind and should retain sole authority over this key element of the CAFO permitting process.


Through this cooperative effort, the Parties to this MOU intend to achieve the following:

  • Restore DNR’s credibility with the citizens of Wisconsin by rescinding agreements which were a product not of sound public policy and law, but rather developed under pressure from the regulated community.
  • Clarify the information required for CAFO permits to make it easier for affected citizens and local units of government to understand and engage in the process.
  • Improve the level of protection from CAFO pollution provided to Wisconsin’s environment and natural resources, by increased compliance with the Clean Water Act in drafting WPDES permits and rigorous enforcement of CAFO engineering requirements.
  • Improve the process for review and approval of engineering Plans and Specifications and Nutrient Management Plans, keeping oversight authority wholly within the DNR.
  • Provide appropriate deterrents to violation of state and federal law through increased regularity and consistency of CAFO on-site inspections, and penalties for violations.


To achieve the above goals, the Parties commit to the following actions:

1. DNR will not finalize the dairy CAFO General Permits as proposed.

2. With Citizen input, DNR will improve public access to information by revising its online CAFO permit process tracking system. This will incorporate key permit documents and “real time” compliance reports in a downloadable database.

3. DNR will draft guidance for CAFO field inspectors outlining a proactive approach to identifying violations. Essential elements of any such policy must include: standards for regular field investigation by DNR staff (including frequency, methodology, and reporting requirements); a clear strategy for identifying violators and holding them accountable to the law. Based on an understanding that as facility size and previous violations increase, so does the potential for environmental harm, DNR will prioritize large CAFOs and previous violators for on-site visits and aggressive enforcement action.

4. DNR CAFO program directors will hold monthly meetings to discuss progress on these action steps and state policy updates with representatives of the Citizens groups who are Parties to this MOU.

5. DNR will rescind the portions of its MOU with DATCP that violate the terms of its Clean Water Act delegation from the EPA.

6. DNR will cancel its Agreement in Principle with the DBA and DATCP. By allowing unprecedented and undue influence by the regulated community, this Agreement has hindered DNR’s ability and authority to protect water quality resources and the interests of Wisconsin citizens.

7. DNR will support Wisconsin citizens in their efforts to protect their communities and quality of life, by encouraging the Wisconsin legislature to repeal the Livestock Facility Siting Law, Wis. Stat. § 93.90.


The Parties to this MOU believe the cooperative approach described in this agreement will help re-focus the DNR’s work on fulfilling its mission to protect water quality on behalf of all Wisconsin citizens, improve relationships between the DNR and environmental and rural stakeholder groups throughout the state, improve CAFO compliance with engineering and WPDES permit requirements, and enhance transparency and accountability in the DNR’s CAFO regulatory program. While this MOU is not a binding contract, the Parties pledge to continue to work together and negotiate in good faith with one another on all issues related to this MOU and CAFO regulation, and any other issues that arise from the actions described herein.

The Parties enter into this MOU on March 1, 2010

Signatories :

Wisconsin Organizations

  • Centerville CARES, Manitowac County, Russ Tooley ,, Cleveland 53015, 920-726-4900
  • Community Midwives, Madison Ingrid Andersson <>
  • Crawford Stewardship Project, Edie Ehlert 608-734-3223
  • Door County Environmental Council, Inc., Jerome M Viste , Executive Director, 920-743-6003
  • Garvey, McNeil & Assoc. S.C., Peter McKeever , 608-256-1003
  • Green Rock Citizens for Clean Water, Tony Ends
  • People Empowered Protect the Land (PEPL) of Rosendale, Elaine Swanson
  • St. Croix Alliance for Environmental Sustainability, St. Croix County, Steve & Jacquie Graham
  • Valley Stewardship Network, Viroqua, Kathy Fairchild
  • Vernon County Alliance Concerned for Environmental Safety, Ryan Call, Westby

Rural Citizens

  • Audrey Van Dyke
  • James Murphy, N2146 Fox Ridge Lane, New London, WI 54961
  • Robert Stelzer, Ph.D.,Associate Professor of Stream Ecology, Dept. of Biology and Microbiology, University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, (920) 424-0845