No ‘social license’ between CAFO, community

Don Ystad

The “social license to operate” is defined by Gunningham, Kagan and Thornton as “the demands on and expectations for a business enterprise that emerge from neighborhoods, environmental groups, community members, and other elements of the surrounding civil society.”

Social license is an element of corporate social responsibility. It is premised on the idea that while regulators grant permits, it is communities that grant permission. It’s that “handshake” that occurs between an incoming business and the people around it, the agreement that the business proposition is good for everyone.

The people of Saratoga and Rome aren’t anti-farming, they just feel this large 5,300 cow corporate farm doesn’t fit with the existing socio-economics of the community. There are over 5,000 residential and recreational homes within the scientifically defined 5-mile cone of depression of the proposed 33 high capacity wells.

The 5 Mile, 7 Mile, 10 Mile and 14 Mile Creeks all exist within that area, as do lakes Camelot, Sherwood and Arrowhead. A recreational community exists in Rome consisting of those three lakes and Petenwell, Wisconsin Trapshooters state facility, Arrowhead Golf courses, Dyracuse Recreational area and the new Sand Valley Golf Resort.

These citizens have installed monitoring wells around the proposed venture, established baseline tests of their private wells, and many have signed letters of intent with an environmental attorney firm. They’ve seen the result of Wysocki's CAFO experiment in rural Armenia where the nitrates are nearly eight times the legal limit. That’s hardly a “social license.”

Don Ystad, Rome