Midwest Environmental Advocates is a nonprofit environmental law center that works for healthy water, air, land and government for this generation and the next. We believe that every citizen has the potential to make a difference.

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Roth Feeder Pigs Expansion

— Twenty-eight concerned Crawford County citizens challenged their county's decision to allow a hog confined feeding operation to expand, jeopardizing their local water and air quality.

Case Summary

On behalf of twenty-eight concerned neighbors, Midwest Environmental Advocates filed a challenge to Crawford County’s decision to issue a license for the expansion of a hog confined animal feeding operation in Wauzeka, WI. The challenge, which was filed with the Livestock Facilities Siting Review Board, alleges that Roth Feeder Pigs, Inc. has failed to meet state standards for nutrient management planning.

Wisconsin’s Livestock Facilities Siting Law (Wisconsin Statutes Chapter 93 and ATCP Rule 51) has been used by the livestock industry to accelerate the growth of factory farming by stripping local governments of their traditional authority to control land use in their own communities. The law makes it extremely difficult for towns and counties to enact strict environmental protections for air and water, or to prohibit massive CAFOs (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations) altogether – regardless of local interests.

In exchange for this industry giveaway, the Siting Law allows (but does not require) local governments to issue a license for new or expanding livestock operations. But these local licenses can only require that the operation meet certain minimum state standards, and nothing more. Less than fifty towns and counties in Wisconsin currently have a livestock siting ordinance, and Crawford County is one of them. The County’s livestock siting ordinance requires compliance with the state standards before a license will be issued.

One of the minimum state standards in the Siting Law addresses nutrient management – that is, how, when, and where the operator plans to dispose of its excess manure. The Siting Law – and, by reference, Crawford County’s siting ordinance – asks an applicant to demonstrate compliance with a commonly-accepted nutrient management standard known as the 590 Standard, developed by the U.S. Natural Resource Conservation Service. This standard grants some protection against water pollution, but was developed with maximum crop growth in mind.

All of the citizens who were party to this challenge live or own land within two miles of Roth Feeder Pigs, and will be directly affected by the proposed expansion. These citizens became very active and organized early in the process, and hired their own nutrient management and groundwater experts to review Roth’s application. Deficiencies were uncovered in Roth’s application and Nutrient Management Plan; deficiencies that could lead to contamination of local streams with nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorous.

(While not a party to the challenge, the Crawford Stewardship Project was instrumental in rallying the community around this issue. The CSP is committed to promoting methods of agriculture that are safe, humane, profitable, and environmentally sustainable, while preserving economic opportunities for all citizens.)

On February 1, 2008, Midwest Environmental Advocates filed a Request for Review and a Statement of Position with the Wisconsin Livestock Facilities Siting Review Board on behalf of twenty-eight concerned neighbors of Roth Feeder Pigs, Inc. The challenge to the County's decision alleged that Roth’s application and supporting documents were insufficient to protect local surface and groundwater from excess nutrient runoff.

On April 18, 2008, the Livestock Facility Siting Review Board voted to overturn the decision of Crawford County to issue a license for the expansion of livestock facilities at Roth Feeder Pigs, Inc.  Finding “internal inconsistencies” in several portions of Roth’s application and nutrient management plan, the Board found that state standards for such expansions had not been met.