I want to update you on the process for revising Wisconsin's livestock siting rule and on the Dairy Business Association’s efforts to keep the rule from being impractical or unfair.
The law requires that the rule, ATCP 51, be reviewed every four years. A technical experts committee started that process in 2014 and the state started revising the rule in 2017.
DBA opposed the resulting draft rule due to three major problems:
It did away with an odor scoring system in favor of a system of radically increased setbacks that allowed farms to “earn back” part of the setback through odor mitigation strategies and/or to seek a variance from the local jurisdiction.
It incorporated by reference a new Natural Resources Conservation Service standard for vegetated treatment areas (VTAs), which would undermine the use of VTAs by some farmers.
It expands the power of local governments to cause problems in the permitting process.
DBA worked with Farm Bureau, Wisconsin Cattlemen’s Association and Wisconsin Pork Association, including lobbying the state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection board and speaking out against the draft at a meeting. The board decided to send the rule back to staff for additional work.
Since this process began, we have repeatedly met with DATCP staff to underscore our issues with the 2017 draft. We also sent written section-by-section comments to the agency.
In 2018, the state restarted the review process, and the technical experts committee issued its report this past May. Together with others, we submitted comments to DATCP stressing our concerns. The new 2019 draft rule was released a little over a week ago. There have been some changes, but it remains largely the same as the 2017 draft.
We broadened the coalition opposed to the revised rule. DBA and eight other groups sent a letter authored by DBA to DATCP board members explaining why we did not want the draft rule moving forward to a public hearing.
At a recent DATCP board meeting, DBA testified against advancing the rule. The board nevertheless voted to move the draft to a hearing. While this is disappointing, we still see many opportunities to significantly improve the draft or to defeat it outright. We won’t stop working.
As always, we will have a stronger voice if you and other DBA members join us in our efforts.
The first chance to do that is during the public hearing process. As soon as the dates and locations of the hearings are made public, we’ll share those with you and provide instructions on how you can participate. In the meantime, contact me with questions.