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Crawford County Land Conservation Committee recommends CAFO moratorium
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CRAWFORD COUNTY - The Crawford County Land Conservation Committee voted 3-1 to recommend passage of a one-year moratorium on permitting of livestock facilities with more than 1,000 animal units in the county. Voting for the moratorium were Buzz Esser, Don Dudenbostel and Dave Olson; voting against the moratorium was Kim Moret. Wade Dull left the meeting before the vote was taken.

The motion to approve a one-year CAFO moratorium was made by Farm Services Agency representative Don Dudenbostel and seconded by committee chairman Supervisor Buzz Esser. Dave Olson had suggested reducing the duration of the moratorium to six months, but the motion did not gain a second. Kim Moret moved to not pass a moratorium and instead rely on the existing laws regulating CAFOs in the State of Wisconsin.

Crawford County Conservationist David Troester made some comments to the committee regarding the moratorium.

“AV followed all of the existing rules to site his facility in Wauzeka,” Troester said. “However, the DATCP is still, technically, working on proposed revisions to the ATCP 51 Livestock Facility Siting Rule. The matter is on the ATCP Board’s agenda for Thursday, December 5 for discussion but no action. DATCP has until February 20, 2020 to work within the current process to make any recommended changes to the rule.”

Troester said that perhaps the most significant proposed changes to the rule are in how the odor score for a facility will be calculated, and the required setbacks from property lines for larger operations.

“I see the current process that is in motion to make what many regard as long overdue changes to the rule as the best reason to consider enacting a moratorium,” Troester said. “That being said, it is viewed as possible, but not likely, that those changes will be made within the allotted time frame. If not, then it could be another one or two years, or more before any changes are made.”

Troester said that it is his understanding that the county’s authority is limited to the livestock facility siting ordinance, and cannot involve considerations such as neighboring property values, or whether our committee agrees with the ‘get big or get out trend in agriculture.’

Committee Chairman Buzz Esser queried county corporate counsel Mark Peterson about whether a CAFO moratorium enacted by the county would be legal.

“If Crawford County were to enact a CAFO moratorium, they would be exercising a legitimate home rule authority,” Peterson said.

USDA-NRCS District Conservationist for Crawford County Karyl Fritsche asked what the implication of the moratorium would be for farmers with less than 1,000 animal units who have NRCS projects approved.

“The moratorium will only affect operations greater than 1,000 animal units as it is written,” Troester said.

Testimony against

About 40 citizens attended the meeting to offer input to the committee about their decision.

Wisconsin Pork Association Executive Vice President Keri Retallick spoke against passage of the moratorium.

“The Roth family has farmed their land in Wauzeka Township for 57 years,” Retallick said. “During that time, they have shown that they are great farmers, stewards of the land,and conservationists.”

Karen Roth, AV Roth’s mother and member of the Marietta Township CAFO Study Group also spoke in opposition to the moratorium.

“My husband and I farmed the land where AV farms now, and we always enjoyed great health,” Roth said. “Farming in America has changed and Crawford County has lost a lot of farms. The state regulations for livestock facilities exist to protect both the environment and the farmers. AV has a nutrient management plan for his facility, and he follows it ‘to-the-T,’ with no deviation from the state rules.”

Land Conservation Committee member Kim Moret also voiced opposition to enacting the moratorium.

“I drove by AV’s facility last week, and it looked absolutely beautifully maintained,” Moret said. “By contrast, I drove by another operation in the area with dairy heifers up to their chests in mud and runoff draining down the hill. I think AV’s facility, with the manure encased in concrete and state-of-the-art climate controls is a very admirable facility.

Moret went on later to ask, “Did everyone here today eat breakfast?” She said that small family farmers are a “dying breed,” and if American consumers want to eat cheap food, then they will need the CAFOs.

Testimony supporting

Ferryville resident and President of the Crawford Stewardship Project Board, Edie Ehlert, spoke in support of passage of the moratorium.

“When the county board so generously passed the frac sand mining moratorium, there weren’t many examples of moratoriums or ordinances for us to base our work on, nor studies about the impacts of frac sand mining,” Ehlert said. “That is not the case with CAFOs, where we have a large body of scientific evidence, and moratoriums and ordinances passed by other counties. This moratorium shouldn’t require as much time from county employees, and I urge you to make use of volunteers on your study group.”

Crawford Stewardship Project Coordinator Eli Mandel testified in support of the passage of the moratorium.

“I thank the committee for their time and consideration on this issue. I was born and raised in Crawford County and have spent much of my life working on farms. The issue of CAFOs and their unsustainable and harmful concentration of animals and manure on our sensitive landscape is not confined to livestock siting,” Mandel said. “It is an issue that affects the public health, safety and welfare of our rural communities.” 

Mandel went on to discuss a recent report from the American Public Health Association (APHA) that calls for CAFO moratoriums at local, state, and national levels. 

Mandel read from the report, "A growing body of evidence shows how CAFOs are directly associated with occupational and community health risks, as well as the social and economic decline of rural communities." 

“We need more time to gather information to make informed decisions about the impacts of these operations on our communities,” Mandel said. “This is exactly what a moratorium can do.” 

Midwest Environmental Advocates staff attorney Adam Voskuil traveled from Madison to speak to the committee.

“I’d like to first point out that the county is acting within its authority by passing a moratorium which gives time for Crawford County to create local regulations in accordance with ATCP 51,” Voskuil said.  “A moratorium is not a permanent ban, but instead an opportunity to fully review scientific studies and create more stringent standards that protect public health, safet, and welfare.”

Voskuil told the committee that it is important to respond to the assertion that CAFOs are highly regulated and, therefore, additional local control is unwarranted. 

“While CAFOs are regulated by the state, Wisconsin’s Livestock Facility Siting Ordinance is a one-size-fits-all standard that does not take into account local characteristics of the land and water,” Voskuil pointed out. “As such, communities are often left dealing with the effects of CAFOs absent any additional regulations from local governments.  As it currently exists, Crawford County’s Livestock Facility Siting licensing ordinance contains only the default language under ATCP 51 and the ordinance has no additional regulations.

“Therefore, this is an opportunity for the board to address what makes Crawford County special which includes the geology, sloping hills, and water resources,” Voskuil said.  “Given the studies of nearby counties as well as the topography of Crawford County specifically, more stringent standards are likely needed to protect public health, safety, and welfare.  This moratorium would give time for the county to create those standards.”

“I would therefore ask the committee to approve the moratorium so the county board can vote and a more substantive analysis can begin,” Voskuil concluded.

Marietta Township grassfed beef producer Jeff Robinson stated that he had moved to Crawford County from Oconomowoc in order to find suitable land to graze cattle.

“I graze cattle on 600 acres, and the water in my ponds is essential to my business,” Robinson said. “I’m worried about my business, worried about runoff from AV’s facility into my ponds.”

Robinson said he isn’t against farming, but believes that the underlying karst geology of the county requires more study. He said he had considered taking manure from AV, but realized that his cattle wouldn’t eat the grass if manure had been spread on it.

“I just don’t think our sensitive karstic area can handle so much manure,” Robinson said.

Dr. Kathleeen Tigerman, professor emeritus of UW-Platteville, a member of the Marietta Township CAFO Study Group, spoke about the research she had done about Crawford County’s karst geology.

“Anything that is applied on the surface in a karstic area is likely to get into the groundwater,” Tigerman explained. “Once pollutants get into our deep aquifers, they will be polluted forever, and 90 percent of county residents get their water from wells. I urge you to pass the moratorium and let the study proceed.”

Barb Anderson of Wauzeka Township asked the committee to “please pass the moratorium.” She said that at the meeting where the Marietta Township Moratorium was passed, AV told the room that should there be a spill from his facility, he would clean it up.

“However, as we’ve seen with the Wild Rose Dairy in Vernon County, nobody thinks a spill is going to happen, and then when it does, then the pollution is released onto the land,” Anderson said. “With our karst geology, we need to take the time to study these issues and make sure we’re doing the right thing for our county’s residents.”

Ellen Brooks of Haney Township also asked the committee to pass the moratorium.

“We are seeing the possibility that sensitive area rules will be developed for areas in western Wisconsin,” Brooks said. “And we have the unfolding results from the SWIGG Study as well as the upcoming DAWS water quality study in Crawford, Vernon and Richland counties to take into account – I think we need more information before we issue any more CAFO permits.”

Marietta Township resident Cynthia Smith is one of 25 people that own homes on Kickapoo Valley Road, just below where the proposed CAFO facility would be located.

“I understand that the farmers feel that non-farmers don’t want them to farm,” Smith said. “But this proposed CAFO frightens me. I’ve heard that the Kickapoo River is the oldest river in the northern hemisphere, and I think we should try to keep it pristine. What would it hurt to spend a year studying the issue?”

Sandy Collins shared a copy of a 2018 report from the Iowa Policy Project about the impact of CAFOs on Iowa’s water quality, as well as a study from the Wisconsin DNR about the economic impact of bodies of water in Wisconsin.

“Crawford County realizes tourism income of $1.25 million per year because our area is pristine,” Robinson said.

Dave Bangor of Wauzeka Township explained that he had grown up on a diversified family farm in northeast Iowa.

“Everything where I grew up has changed now,” Bangor said. “The area where I grew up is so inundated with CAFOs that the air and water are polluted, and people who live there are unable to sell their properties and move away.”

Rikardo Jahnke of Clayton Township stated that he had grown up on a dairy farm in northeast Wisconsin. He said that where his family’s farm was located, there used to be eight farms on a two-mile stretch of road, and there were all kinds of businesses in the community that catered to those farm families.

“Now there is just one farm on that stretch of road and all the businesses are gone,” Jahnke said. “Industrial farming devastates rural communities, and the geology and slopes of Crawford County’s landscape mitigates what kinds of practices are appropriate for farming here.”

Dave Collins is another Marietta Township resident that owns property on Kickapoo Valley Road.

“Pig manure is already being spread on Harvest Lane above highly erodible land,” Collins said. “The stream below there is already outrageously polluted – this is not hypothetical – it is already happening.”
CAFO moratorium


The Crawford County Board of Supervisors does ordain as follows:


The purpose of this moratorium is to allow Crawford County adequate time to study, review, consider and determine whether amendments to the Livestock Facilities Licensing Ordinance (12.07 Crawford County Code of Ordinances) is required to protect public health, safety, and welfare in Crawford County before large-scale livestock facilities commence or expand in Crawford County.


Moratorium Imposed.  Pursuant to Sections 59.02(2) and 59.69 of the Wisconsin Statutes, the County Board of Supervisors hereby prohibits the creation, construction, or expansion of any large-scale livestock facilities licensing operations within the unincorporated areas of Crawford County.  Further, there is hereby established a temporary stay on the acceptance, review, and approval by County officials, staff, and consultants of any permit applications for livestock facilities licensing operations after the effective date of this Ordinance until the effective period of the moratorium expires.


This ordinance, adopted by a majority vote of the County Board on roll call vote with a quorum present and voting and proper notice having been given, provides for the imposition of a moratorium on the permitting of new livestock facilities that will have 1,000 or more animal units, and on the permitting of pre-existing livestock facilities that are applying to undergo an expansion if the number of animal units kept at the expanded facility will be 1,000 or more.  This moratorium does not apply to an applicant who has acquired legally vested rights by a permit issued prior to the adoption of this ordinance.


All definitions located in the Crawford County Code of Ordinances are hereby adopted and incorporated as if fully set forth herein.


The moratorium imposed by this ordinance shall be in effect for a period of twelve (12) months following the effective date hereof.  This moratorium may be extended for up to twelve (12) months by a majority vote of the Crawford County Board of Supervisors.


During the moratorium imposed by this ordinance the Crawford County Land Conservation, Planning and Zoning Committee, the Crawford County Land Conservation, Planning and Zoning Department, the Crawford County Community Development Agent, the Crawford County Department of Public Health and a “citizen representative” to be appointed by the Crawford County Board Chairman shall be formed as a “Special Study Committee”.  They shall study and analyze the impact of large-scale livestock facility operations.  This Special Study Committee shall be charged with researching the issues associated with such operations and making recommendations to the Crawford County Land Conservation, Planning, and Zoning Committee regarding regulatory and police powers necessary to ensure the applicable regulations adequately protect the groundwater, surface water, air quality, public health and safety of residents. The Crawford County Land Conservation Committee shall make reports to the County Board as directed by the County Board with a final report within 10 months of the effective date of this ordinance.


 If any section, sentence, clause or phrase of this ordinance should be held to be invalid or unconstitutional by a court of competent jurisdiction, such invalidity or unconstitutionality shall not affect the validity or constitutionality of any other section, sentence, clause or phrase of this ordinance.


This ordinance shall not be codified.


This ordinance shall become effective from and after its passage and publication as required by law.

Dated this 3rd day of December, 2019.


Provide input

To provide input to the board about whether this moratorium should be enacted, you can contact your county board supervisor:

District One Prairie du Chien, First Ward: Geri Kozelka, 1111 E. Parrish Street, Prairie du Chien, WI 53821, 608-988-6087

District Two Prairie du Chien, Second and Seventh Wards/Chairman Land Conservation Committee: Henry (Buzz) Esser, 1121 South 5th Street, Prairie du Chien, WI 53821, 608-326-2130

District Three Prairie du Chien, Third Ward: Kersten Rocksvold, 313 E. Iowa Street, Prairie du Chien, WI 53821, 608-326-8056

District Four Prairie du Chien, Fourth Ward: Brad Steiner, 310 N Michigan, Prairie du Chien, WI 53821, 608-412-0252

District Five Prairie du Chien, Fifth Ward, Duane Rogers, 320 N Dousman, Prairie du Chien, WI 53821, 608-412-2986

District Six Prairie du Chien, Sixth Ward, Carl Orr, 222 Stuart Lane, Prairie du Chien 53821, 608-778-5636

District Seven Town of Freeman, Villages of DeSoto (Ward Two) and Ferryville/ Member Land Conservation Committee: David Olson, 63824 Marigaard Road, DeSoto, WI 54624, 608-648-3676

District Eight Town of Utica and Village of Mt. Sterling, Town of Clayton (Ward Three), Mary Kuhn, 53201 Kuhn Drive, Soldiers Grove, WI 54655, 608-624-3311

District Nine Town of Clayton (Ward 1) & Village of Soldiers Grove/ Member Land Conservation Committee:Wade Dull, 15625 State Hwy 61, Soldiers Grove, WI 54655, 608-624-5284

District Ten Town of Clayton (Ward Two) & Village of Gays Mills: Donald Stirling, 45641 Sand Creek Road, Gays Mills, WI 54631, 608-735-4807

District 11 Towns of Haney, Scott, Village of Bell Center: Wayne Jerrett, Jr., 45067 County Road S, Gays Mills, WI 54631, 608-872-2129

District 12 Town of Seneca, Village of Lynxville: Larry Kelley, 58761 Benhardt Ridge Road, Eastman, WI 54626, 608-874-4232

District 13 Town of Eastman (Ward One), Village of Eastman, Town of Prairie du Chien (Ward Two): Greg Russell, 108 Meadow Lane, Eastman, WI 54626, 608-874-4186

District 14 Towns of Eastman (Ward Two), Marietta, Town of Wauzeka (Ward Two) Village of Steuben: Gari Lorenz, 53000 Morovits Hollow Road, Wauzeka, WI 53826, 608-874-9300

District 15 Town of Wauzeka (Ward 1), Village of Wauzeka: Gerald Krachey, P.O. Box 208, Wauzeka, WI 53826, 608-875-6805

District 16 Town of Bridgeport: Derek Flansburgh, 58340 Old Highway 60, Prairie du Chien, WI 53821, 608-326-1819

District 17 Town of Prairie du Chien (Ward One): Tom Cornford, 35479 State Highway 27, Prairie du Chien, WI 53821, 608-326-2900