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Public input meetings planned for proposed Livestock Facility Siting Law revisions

WISCONSIN - The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection has proposed changes to how the state regulates large scale livestock farms. The proposed changes were approved to go to public hearings by the DATCP Board on July 10. 

Now that the board has authorized public hearings, the DATCP will refer a copy of the rule to the Legislative Council Rules Clearinghouse and publish a hearing notice in the Wisconsin Administrative  Register.  

A hearing is scheduled to take place as follows with two separate hearings between 1-4 p.m. and 5-8 p.m. Each three-hour session will begin with a presentation by DATCP, followed by opportunity for public comments.

Onalaska:Wednesday, September 4, Stoney Creek Hotel and Conference Center, 3060 W. Kinney Coulee Road, Thomas G. Rowe Room

DATCP staff say the pre-sent rule expires February 4, 2020, and the updated rule would need the Legislature and Governor to approve it before then.

The rule, ATCP 51, is designed to provide uniform local regulation of livestock facilities with 500 or more animal units. Kara O'Connor with Farmers Union is glad the board approved the draft rule for public hearings. 

"The board made clear that they weren't endorsing every line and sentence of the rules, what they voted for is getting the public's input, and I think that's absolutely the right decision," O’Connor said.

Before the ATCP board approved the rule revisions to be circulated for public comment, Wisconsin Speaker of the Wisconsin Assembly Robin Vos, and Wisconsin Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald sent a letter to Pfaff signed by both of them. In the letter they said:

“We are writing to encourage that you return the draft ATCP 51 revisions back to staff for further work and consultation with affected stakeholders prior to advancing the rule to the full DATCP Board for its consideration. As we understand matters, the revisions DATCP staff are recommending could add significant new costs to existing and expanding CAFO operations and have a chilling impact on any future potential for growth in the dairy industry. This added uncertainty compounds an already problematic farm economy, which is struggling with low commodity prices and trade issues.”

“Every four years, DATCP must review the siting rule, ATCP 51. However, DATCP does not have to revise the rule it adopted in 2006, which we understand has been working as it is written without any revisions in the previous four-year reviews.”

“It appears your staff is creating a solution in search of a problem. The ATCP51 revisions are not ready for a public hearing, the next stage of the process, and should be sent back to staff for further work with the affected stakeholders. We have asked the Ag Committee Chairman Howard Marklein and Gary Tauchen to monitor this process and, if necessary, reject the current revisions and send them back to DATCP.”

Revisions summary

According to a memo from DATCP Secretary Brad Pfaff to the ACTP board on July 10, proposed revisions to the rule include:

• Updates the water quality standards, including related Natural Resources Conservation Service ("NRCS") technical standards, to ensure consistency with provisions in NR !51 and ATCP 50, including incorporation of the 2017 NRCS standard for waste storage structures, 2015 NRCS standard for nutrient management, the 2017 NRCS standard for waste treatment, and the 2016 NRCS standard for vegetated treatment areas.

• Modifies standards (subch. II of ATCP 51) consistent with the requirements in Wis. Stat. § 93.90(2), based on the technical recommendations of the 2014 and 2018 Technical Expert Committees and stakeholder input. Key changes include modifications to setback and odor standards.

• Modifies the procedures (subchs. I and III of ATCP 51) that local governments must follow in issuing a siting permit under a zoning or licensing ordinance including those used to determine completeness of siting applications, modifications to siting permits, the use of checklists to monitor facility compliance, and the fees local governments charge for permit modifications.

• Modifies local permit application forms and worksheets to reflect changes in requirements  and to ensure that they are clear, complete, and elicit information that documents compliance with applicable siting standards.

• Makes other changes, clarifications and updates as necessary to improve implementation of the siting rule, consistent with the requirements in Wis. Stat.§ 93.90(2).

For the more in depth discussion of the proposed changes to ATCP 51, go to