Environmental coalition calls for moratorium on new, expanding CAFOs in WI

Mary Dougherty
Sustain Rural Wisconsin Network
Cows line the feed bunker at a dairy farm.

Enough is enough and it's time to press the pause button on new and expanding Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) in Wisconsin. Sustain Rural Wisconsin Network (SRWN), a coalition of grassroots groups working to protect their communities from CAFO pollution, is calling for a statewide moratorium on new and expanding CAFO permits.

Between the 2016 Legislative Audit Bureau report that highlighted the DNR's lack of oversight and enforcement, the recent report from Kewaunee County that found nearly 60 percent of sampled wells in the study contained fecal microbes, the fact that nearly one-third of CAFOs in Wisconsin are operating with expired permits, and the water contamination in La Crosse County that prompted DNR spokesman Jim Dick to state: “The DNR doesn’t have a policy regarding notifying municipalities or private well owners in the vicinity when a CAFO violates a permit” -- it's well past time to put public health and safety before an 'open for business' mantra.

SRWN is not advocating for a ban on CAFOs, they are simply asking for time to allow elected and regulatory officials to adequately assess and address the well-documented pollution caused by CAFOs in Wisconsin.

It is entirely reasonable to expect that our government officials will protect our right to clean water, clean air, and to be safe in our homes. SRWN believes that a moratorium is a conservative and prudent measure to ensure Wisconsin resident's health and safety is part of the CAFO permitting scheme.

Sustain Rural Wisconsin Network, and its 40+ co-sponsors, are calling for a moratorium on new construction and expansion of concentrated animal feeding operations until:

  • Legislation is passed that empowers the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources with the authority and mandate to address and adequately enforce water quality standards through Nutrient Management Plans and the permitting process.
  • Groundwater protection policies are created which outline procedures for adequate enforcement of violations.
  • All CAFOs in Wisconsin that are currently operating with expired WPDES permits are issued a current WPDES (Wisconsin Pollutant Discharge Elimination Systems) permit for future regulation.