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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Midwest Environmental Advocates to Speak at Livestock Siting Law Review Listening Session Thursday

Apr 15, 2014

Midwest Environmental Advocates is pleased to have been invited by the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection to comment on behalf of citizens concerned with the impact of livestock facility siting laws passed by the state since 2004. Since the law took effect, families who live near Wisconsin’s largest livestock farms have in essence lost their local power to have a say on where farms with livestock can be located and how the farm manages its animals and their waste.

On Thursday, staff attorney Drew Nicholas will be addressing the agency in a listening session as a part of the law’s four-year review. While the listening session is open to the public to attend, speakers at this session are by invitation only. With environmental justice at the core of our mission and everyday work, Midwest Environmental Advocates takes the responsibility of being a voice for citizens at this listening session very seriously. We’ve been working with community groups across the state to get their input on problems with the livestock siting law in advance of Thursday’s listening session.

At the heart of this debate are the limitations this law puts on the power of local communities to protect local land use and quality of life. This makes the reality of the law heavily biased in favor of CAFOs. Though the law was intended to provide consistency in livestock siting rules, local communities essentially have to rubber-stamp applications and approve plans that may not be protective enough of local needs. For those who live near some of our state’s largest livestock farms, their health, the health of their water and air, and the value and enjoyment of their property could be at risk. You can find more about this on our livestock siting law issue page and a previous blog post on the law’s review process.

DATCP is holding a number of listening sessions for various stakeholders this year. The listening session on Thursday, April 17 will focus on environmental and citizens' concerns and will be from 9:00 a.m. to noon in Conference Room 266, DATCP headquarters, 2811 Agriculture Dr., Madison. The listening session is open to the public, and though public comments won’t be taken as a part of this session’s agenda, there will be opportunities for the public to speak to the livestock siting board later this year.

Written comments may also be submitted as a part of the record of listening sessions – submit your comments to Steve Struss, DATCP Livestock Siting Engineer, steve.struss@wi.gov or submit your written statement at the listening session. For more information or to provide feedback on this issue to Midwest Environmental Advocates, contact staff attorney Drew Nicholas at anicholas@midwestadvocates.org

We will report back on the listening session next week.

/ tagged: rural, agriculture, drinking water, land, water, air