VERNON AND CRAWFORD COUNTIES - The Wisconsin Farmers Union Vernon-Crawford County Chapter met at the farm of Sam and Dan Kaatz in rural Chaseburg on Saturday, August 8.
With about 16 people in attendance, the group made plans for a fundraiser to replace the booth they usually have at the Vernon County Fair, heard from representatives from the WFU State Board about plans for a virtual winter conference, discussed donations, and voted to support the call for a one-year extension to the Crawford County CAFO moratorium.
The group will hold a ‘Pork and Potato Fundraiser’ on Saturday, September 12, at the Wisconsin Farmers Union Booth at the Vernon County Fairgrounds. Meals will be served starting at 11 a.m. until they are sold out or 2 p.m., whichever comes first. The cost of the meal is $10 per plate.The meal served will include a baked potato with pulled pork from Bloomington Meats, baked beans, barbecue sauce, Organic Valley sour cream and butter, a bottle of water, an Organic Valley milk, and condiments and utensils.
‘Pork and Potato Fundraiser’ on Saturday, September 12, at the Wisconsin Farmers Union Booth at the Vernon County Fairgrounds. Meals will be served starting at 11 a.m. until they are sold out or 2 p.m., whichever comes first. The cost of the meal is $10 per plate.The meal served will include a baked potato with pulled pork from Bloomington Meats, baked beans, barbecue sauce, Organic Valley sour cream and butter, a bottle of water, an Organic Valley milk, and condiments and utensils.
Sara Korte (rural Chaseburg_ and Jen Schmitz (Cashton), who sit on the Wisconsin Farmers Union State Board led a discussion with the group about whether the WFU’s winter conference should be held in-person or virtually.
“Our state board conducted a survey about the winter conference,” Korte reported. “As it stands now, 80 percent of survey respondents are opposed to holding an in-person meeting.”
Schmitz and Korte said that they hoped to have a good discussion at the meeting of the options, and then have the chapter members present take an advisory vote on their preference for the winter meeting format.
Korte said that the WFU county presidents will meet next week to take a vote on the issue.
There was discussion about the barriers many farmers and other rural people have with internet connections.
“There will be an option for a person to just call in to the meeting on a phone,” Schmitz said. “And I envision the possibility of people having small, COVID-safe gatherings, for watch parties as well.”
Schmitz suggested that the county could try to hold a virtual meeting to identify and trouble shoot any problems members may have before the winter meeting.
Korte reported that she believes that some of the sessions, such as the bylaws sessions, will be converted to a paper ballot format instead of a long Zoom meeting.
The group voted to support holding the winter WFU conference in an online format.
As far as donations, the group voted to make the following donations:
• Kamp Kenwood, $182
• Vernon Economic Development Association, $182
• Crawford County Community Foundation, $50
Forest Jahnke informed the members of the WFU Vernon-Crawford County Chapter that members of the Crawford-Sterling Chapter had recently voted to join with Crawford Stewardship Project in calling on the Crawford County Board to enact a one-year extension to the county’s CAFO Moratorium.
“The CAFO Study Group is supposed to deliver our report to the Crawford County Board in October,” Jahnke said. “Because of COVID-19, the group has missed many meetings and needs the extra time to complete the work of the study group.”
Jahnke also pointed out that the Driftless Area Water Study (DAWS) well testing in Crawford, Vernon and Richland counties was also delayed, and the first round of testing was moved back from spring to this October. He pointed out that many of the Crawford County board members that voted for the moratorium had said that it would be very important to see the DAWS testing results in their consideration of the county’s regulation of CAFOs.
Korte said that WFU is not opposed to CAFOs, but is in favor of giving local municipalities control over their siting and regulation.
There was discussion of the state’s one-size-fits-all Livestock Facility Siting Law, and the State of Wisconsin’s responsibility to review and consider updates to that law every four years. It was pointed out that since the law had been passed that review had never occurred except in 2018.
At that time, DATCP, under the leadership of Secretary-Designee Brad Pfaff, had taken the recommendations of the technical advisory committee and conducted public hearings statewide. From there, with some changes made to the recommendations after the public hearings, it was to have gone to a vote before the DATCP board. If passed by the board, it would have gone to the Governor, and then to the state legislature.
One the eve of the DATCP board vote, Secretary-Designee cancelled the vote just days before Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald called the State Senate into session and fired Pfaff.
The point was made that if the State of Wisconsin, which in enacting the statewide Livestock Facility Law took away almost all local control, was going to abrogate their responsibility for review and updating the law, then it was understandable that local government might need to hit the pause button on new CAFOs and expansions to ensure that they were doing everything necessary to protect the health, safety and welfare of their citizens.
The group voted to sign on to support the extension of the Crawford County CAFO moratorium by the Crawford County Board of Supervisors for one year.
WFU Vernon-Crawford County Chapter member Dylan Bruce brought up that at a future meeting, he would like to see the group discuss support for the ’40 Acres and a Mule Project.”“Vernon County used to be home to a large number of African-American farmers, and that has all gone away,” Bruce said. “The 40 Acres and a Mule Project is conducting fundraising to work towards land acquisition for African-American farmers, and I feel support of this project would be worthy of our consideration.”