Wisconsin dairy farm.
August 15, 2019

Proposed Changes To Wisconsin Siting Rules Could Turn Back Clock

 |  By: Jim Dickrell

Hearings begin today on proposed changes to Wisconsin’s local livestock facility siting rules. The Dairy Business Association (DBA), the state’s largest and most powerful dairy lobbying organization, worries the changes could set back the industry decades.

Under the state’s livestock siting laws, local government do not have to issue or require permits. But if they choose to do so, they must follow standards and procedures laid out in ATCP 51. It is these standards that are up for review.

“Livestock siting came to be a decade ago when local governments were throwing up sporadic roadblocks to farmers,” says Jamie Mara, DBA’s director of strategic communications. “This made Wisconsin a patchwork of regulations, giving farmers little certainty and turning the process into emotional ordeals driven by uninformed opinions and local politics.

“Communities were divided and farmers’ reputations were ruined,” he says. “We cannot go back to that time.”

DBA notes that the siting rules were created after the state went through a period of decline in its dairy industry. “There are legitimate concerns that these [new] changes will take us in the opposite direction, particularly given that they would be implemented after several years of low milk prices,” DBA said in a statement.

Coincidentally, in a report issued by the University of Wisconsin, the state’s agricultural output has climbed to nearly $105 billion annually between 2012 and 2017. Dairy’s contribution, when processing is included, is 43.5% of that, or $45.6 billion.

Six hearings on the proposed changes to the siting law will be conducted, starting today in Oshkosh and ending Sept. 5 in Spooner.