Proposed changes to livestock siting law raises red flags for Wisconsin farmers
The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection has opened a comment period on proposed changes to the Livestock Facility Siting Law (ATCP 51). As an agricultural engineer, I see many red flags with the proposed changes that Wisconsin farmers should be aware of. One of the most glaring issues is the setbacks from property lines.
To highlight what this proposed rule could mean to livestock farmers, I’d like to share an example from a farm that currently has its livestock siting permit. This customer’s livestock facility sits on a 69-acre parcel. Under a 600-foot setback from property lines, the farm would have a 65-foot wide area of land in the middle of their property to place manure storage – an area too small to construct a waste storage system. Without this system, the farm would have had to haul manure every other day and apply said manure outside preferred nutrient stewardship practices.
What’s more is the timelines for implementation outlined in the proposal would not have allowed this farm to undergo its gradual expansion. This farm constructed and began populating its permitted facility with the intention of adding a manure storage system in the future.
It’s difficult to secure financing for these systems and with uncertain commodity markets, they wanted the flexibility to add the system when they were ready and financially able to do so. However, the proposal would require all construction and population to be started within two years. This isn’t a realistic timeline for the construction process, despite financial or weather-related hurdles that may warrant multiple phases of construction.
This example only begins to address the many concerns I see with the proposed revisions to ATCP 51. There are other items that are inconsistent with existing regulations, impractical in application and that broaden local control. The livestock siting law was enacted to provide a fair and predictable framework for livestock facilities of all sizes, but this proposal deviates from that intent.
What do you envision as the future of your farm? Do you have kids who may one day want to take over the operation? Would that require additional buildings or expansion in any way? Are you a beginning farmer trying to plan for the future of your business? This proposal will impact farmers of all sizes and all phases. No matter who you are or how you are involved in agriculture, I am confident in saying we all want fairness, certainty and a scientific basis to the rules and regulations our industry faces. For that reason, I hope you will ask DATCP to not implement their proposed changes to ATCP 51.
Please join us in submitting comments to DATCP on the proposed revisions to ATCP 51. It is critical that staff and the board hear how this proposal will negatively impact Wisconsin farmers and their ability to enhance their operations while protecting the environment.
You can submit comments through Friday, September 13 online at http://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/code/chr/all/cr_19_098, by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by mail to DATCP-ARM, P.O. Box 8911, Madison, WI 53708.
Act today to ensure that your voice and the voice of Wisconsin agriculture is heard in this process.
Naomi is an Ag Engineer with Insight FS where she provides engineering services to farmers including design consultation and development, permitting assistance, and comprehensive nutrient management plan development. She has 13 years of experience as an agricultural engineer and holds her Professional Agricultural Engineering License.