The state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection just concluded six public hearings across Wisconsin on the Livestock Siting Rules, ATCP 51. The purpose of the hearings was to take public input on updating the rules, the first time DATCP did so since 2006 even though they are, by law, supposed to review ATCP 51 every four years.

Amazingly, DATCP somehow overlooked Northeast Wisconsin as a hearing location. With the largest concentration of diary confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs) in Wisconsin, you’d think that DATCP would take notice and ask for input from the residents of Kewaunee, Door, Brown, and Manitowoc counties, the folks who are all too familiar with the ramifications of CAFOs.

For example, a 2017 study by the Department of Revenue found a 13% loss of property values for homeowners living within one quarter-mile of a CAFO in Kewaunee County, and an 8% loss if within one mile. Why? Primarily odors and well contamination. At the Speaker’s Task Force on Water Quality in Green Bay last week, the representative from the Wisconsin Realtors Association said that he doesn’t even take listings from Kewaunee County any longer.

DATCP staff was contacted and asked to schedule a hearing in Green Bay for our area. They informed us that they tried but the powers that be determined that there were enough hearings scheduled.

DATCP is well aware why property values have declined in Kewaunee County; here are some suggestions how to remedy some of the CAFO problems in our area:

1. Significantly increase setbacks between CAFOs and manure lagoons and neighboring properties, especially if local geological conditions indicate susceptibility.

2. Any new expansion of existing CAFOs must comply with the newly revised setbacks. No grandfathering in.

3. The CAFO permit must run with the owner, not with the land. This will eliminate the eventuality of a sale to corporate entities.

4. In the sensitive areas of Northeast Wisconsin with its karst geology, require 50 feet to bedrock for spreading of liquid manure as recommended by the Karst Task Force Report (2007) and Dr. Borchardt (2019)

5. Better yet, eliminate liquid manure storage and spreading liquid manure.

6. No new tile lines, aka “sewer lines,” draining liquid manure into our streams, eventually ending up in Lake Michigan as we’ve seen all too often. Going into the future, existing tile lines should be scheduled for removal, especially on fields closest to the CAFO facility, those fields which receive the heaviest applications of liquid manure.

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