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Roth hog CAFO moves toward public hearings
In Marietta Township
Roth Feeder Pig II aerial view of site

MARIETTA TOWNSHIP - The proposed expansion of the Roth Feeder Pig hog CAFO in Wauzeka Township continues to move forward. Public hearings are currently scheduled for the WPDES (Wisconsin Pollutant Discharge Elimination System) water quality permits from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) for both the current operation in Wauzeka Township and the proposed expansion site in Marietta Township.

The public hearings, for which pre-registration is required, will occur as follows:

• May 24, 1 p.m., Roth Feeder Pig I, virtual hearing using Zoom. If you want to attend the hearing, please fill out the registration form at the following link:

• June 10, 10 a.m., Roth Feeder Pig II, to register to provide a public comment, go to:

To access the full range of documents available from WDNR for the proposed expansion, go to:

Any public comments made on either permit must be in the possession of the WDNR within 30 days of the date of public notice:

• Roth Feeder Pig 1: deadline is Wednesday, June 2

• Roth Feeder Pig II: deadline is Thursday, June 17

Members of the public can also submit comments through mail or e-mail.

• Roth Feeder Pig I: address comments to the permit drafter, Claire O'Connell, 1500 N Johns St, Dodgeville, WI, 53533, 608-963-1463,

• Roth Feeder Pig II: Tyler Dix, 101 S Webster Street, Madison, WI 53707, 608-220-2096,

Proposed expansion

If Howard AV Roth’s proposed swine CAFO expansion in Marietta Township is approved, the combined Roth Feeder Pig I and Roth Feeder Pig II facilities will annually generate a combined 12,498,152 gallons of liquid swine manure per year. This manure will be spread on a total of 1,944.4 acres of cropland. Of those acres, 1,571.5 are rented (81 percent), and 370.9 are owned (19 percent).

The DNR has drafted a proposed permit for Roth Feeder Pig II, a swine CAFO facility proposed to be built in Marietta Township in Crawford County. This facility will be an expansion of his current swine CAFO facility in Wauzeka Township in Crawford County.

According to the WDNR fact sheet, Roth Feeder Pig II will house 2,981 animal units and generate approximately 9.4 million gallons of manure and process wastewater [per year]. Roth Feeder Pig II has a total of 1,455.3 acres available for land application of manure and process wastewater. Of this acreage, 67.4 acres are owned, and 1,387.9 acres are rented. 

The site will consist of three barns and a [mortalities] composting area. The gilt development unit barn and gestation barn each will contain underfloor waste storage facilities. The farrowing barn will have underfloor reception tanks that drain to the gestation barn waste storage facility. The gestation barn and farrowing barn will have 251 days of liquid storage capacity. The gilt development unit barn will have 299 days of liquid storage capacity.

Roth Feeder Pig I

Roth’s current operation, Roth Feeder Pig I, maintains a herd size of 1,667 mixed animal units, consisting of 2,900 sows, 3,650 gilts, 150 growers, 20 boars, 60 beef cows and 60 calves. All swine are 100 percent confined, and all swine manure is stored beneath animal housing. 

A roofed building with concrete flooring is used for composting mortalities. The operation also raises 60 beef cow and calf pairs on pastures surrounding the hog facility. These animals are brought to an open lot in the production area for sorting and remain there for approximately two-to-four weeks out of the year. 

There is another open lot in the production area designated for sick cows in this herd. These lots will be evaluated and monitored as required by the WPDES permit.

Roth Feeder Pig I has at least 401 days of storage for liquid manure and process wastewater, and at least 59 days of storage for solid manure. 

The department has conditionally approved the Nutrient Management Plan for Roth Feeder Pig I. The operation currently has 489.1 acres (303.5 owned and 183.6 controlled through contracts, rental agreements or leases, or under manure agreements) of which 455.8 are spreadable acres. Roth Feeder Pig Inc. will annually generate approximately 3,098,152 gallons of manure and process wastewater, and 240 tons of solid manure in the first year of the permit term.

The Department has tentatively decided that the above specified WPDES permit should be reissued. This WPDES permit action is an integrated analysis action under NR 150.20(2), Wis. Adm. Code, and does not require a separate action under NR 150, Wis. Adm. Code.

Request for an EIS

In November 2020, more than 200 Crawford County residents formally requested that the DNR prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), but the DNR has yet to agree to conduct one. It appears the agency may consider their ‘integrated analysis’ to be the functional equivalent of the process required to arrive at an ‘Environmental Impact Statement.’

In particular, Forest Jahnke of the Crawford Stewardship Project (CSP) contends that even the current operation may be contributing to documented surface and groundwater quality problems in the area. CSP conducts surface water quality monitoring in the areas of the current and proposed facility. 

Their monitoring efforts have documented high levels of e.Coli in springwater located just below the current facility. High levels of phosphorous have also been documented. Spring water is groundwater that has come to the surface, and most of the coldwater streams in the area are fed by springs. 

“If the Roth expansion is approved, the operation will be the largest swine CAFO in the state, located in one of the most hydrogeologically sensitive areas of the state,” Jahnke explained. “What CSP is demanding is that science-based decision-making be returned to WDNR, and the Governor’s ‘Year of Clean Drinking Water’ commitments be more than just talk.”

Jahnke contends that the failure to adequately respond to the EIS request is only one of many deficiencies with this draft permit. 

According to CSP, other deficiencies include:

• no groundwater monitoring for manure spreading fields

• a faulty claim that clay soils will have no issues with leaching at production site

• too many animal units for the number of acres (plus, largely rented acres, and extreme slopes)

• allowing separately permitted facilities to co-mingle manure

• failure to address groundwater quantity issues.

CSP is encouraging citizens who have concerns with the proposed expansion to write to or call the below people, asking for an EIS to be completed: 

• Dave Siebert ( or (608) 264-6048)

• Brian Weigel ( or (608) 225-4964)

• Preston Cole ( or (608) 267-7556)

‘Farms, Factories and the Future’ public forum

Crawford Stewardship Project is convening a ‘Farms, Factories and the Future’ virtual public forum on Saturday, June 5, from 1-5 p.m. The event is co-sponsored by Sustain Rural Wisconsin Network, Social-ly Responsible Ag Project, UW-Extension, and more. 

To register, go to:

In the public forum, par-ticipants will 

• hear and inquire about Crawford County’s experi-ence with a CAFO, pro-posed expansions, regula-tions, and lessons learned

• engage with a panel of sustainable and regenerative farmers and experts about resilient pathways forward for agriculture

• network and strategize with a panel of community organizers from across the Midwest


The panel for the sustain-able and regenerative agri-culture portion of the agenda will include:

• Vance Haugen - Former UW-Extension Ag Educator, grazier

• Wil Crombie - Savan-nah Institute

• Dani Heisler-Wodill - Tainter Creek Farmer Led Watershed Council

• Scott Mericka - dairy grazier - Grass Dairy

• Mike Mueller - Driftless Area Back to the Land pas-tured pork cooperative

The panel for the net-working portion of the agenda will include:

• Tony Wilkin-Gibart, Midwest Environmental Advocates

• Bill Hogseth, Wisconsin Farmers Union

• Jim Goodman, Family Farm Defenders and Via Campesina 

• Christina Anderson, WI Land+Water

• Lynn Henning, Socially Responsible Ag Project 

• John Ikerd, food system author and advocate 

• Karen Hudson (Illinois Coalition for Clean Air and Water

• Tom Mortensen, Cen-tral Sands) 

• Lisa Doerr, Polk/Burnett counties

• Keith Bancroft, Kewaunee County

Event sponsors

Sponsors for the event include Sustain Rural Wis-consin Network, Socially Responsible Agricultural Project, Midwest Environ-mental Advocates , Wiscon-sin Trout Unlimited, Trout Unlimited, Driftless Area Restoration Effort, Trout Unlimited, Harry and Laura Nohr Chapter, Wisconsin Farmers Union, Vernon/Crawford Chapter, Wisconsin Farmers Union, North Crawford/Sterling Chapter, Wisconsin Farmers Union, Grant/Iowa Chapter, Family Farm Defenders, Coulee Region Sierra Club, Wis-consin Network for Peace and Justice, Food and Water Watch, Crawford Steward-ship Project, Grant County Rural Stewardship, Richland Stewardship Project, Citizens for Safe Water Around Badger, Save Our Unique Lands of Wisconsin, Save The Hills Alliance, Citizens’ Water Coalition of Wisconsin, and Friends of the Lower Wisconsin Riverway.