As farmers flocked to World Dairy Expo last month in Madison to see the best cows and latest technology from around the world, many of them who are members of the Dairy Business Association also got a look at potential regulations that would affect what happens on farms.
“We have to be very mindful of what goes into these rules for our farmers,” Aaron Stauffacher, associate director of government affairs for DBA, told several dozen members during an administrative rule roundup session.
Stauffacher and John Holevoet, director of government affairs, detailed proposed changes to three administrative rules: ATCP 51, a livestock facility siting rule; NR 151, a runoff management standard; and NR 243, a confined animal feeding operation regulation. They also answered members’ questions about the practical impact of the changes.
Jay Stauffacher, a dairy farmer in Darlington, was particularly interested in the facility siting rule. He is concerned that if he wanted to expand his herd, he might not meet the proposed setback requirements, which would dramatically increase from the current standards.
He also took note of issues related to feed storage runoff, the use of vegetative treatment areas and clean groundwater. During the process of becoming a CAFO, he said his family wasn’t allowed to use vegetative treatment areas, which serve as filters to keep nutrients in the soil and out of the water. Instead, the farm is required to collect all the water and leachate from the storage facilities.
“With the amount of rain we’ve had just in September and now into October, that’s put so many more gallons into my manure storage that I have to pay to have spread out on the field,” he said. “And I’ll be restricted on the gallons I can spread on each field because the ground is so saturated, so I’ll need to find more land to spread it on.”
Anne Marie Elwing, a dairy farmer from De Soto, said she values the legislative work of DBA and appreciates receiving the most updated information at meetings.
“They’re such a good outreach for me if I have questions or if I’m working on a project,” Elwing said. “I feel like I get very good, concrete data from them and they’re very accessible.”
Jay Stauffacher agreed.
“DBA does a great job of being aware of the landscape that affects farmers,” he said.
Aaron Stauffacher and Holevoet also encouraged members to participate in the rulemaking process by talking to their state legislators and testifying at public hearings. They said lawmakers need to know how these rules affect things day in and day out at the farm level.