Public input invited on Wisconsin livestock farm rules

Comment period open on proposed changes to state regulations about where animal facilities may be located and how they may be operated.




3 minute read

Via the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection:

Photo by Paul Brennan

Six public hearings are scheduled around the state Aug. 15-Sept. 5 to explain proposed changes to Wisconsin’s livestock facility siting rule and gather public comment on the proposal. Written comments will also be accepted through Sept. 13.

The administrative rule, formally referred to as ATCP 51, sets standards and procedures that local governments must follow if they require permits for new or expanding livestock operations. Citizens should comment now if they want their ideas to be considered for the final draft that will go to the Board of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection for approval before sending it to the Legislature.

“We rely on public input to make sure our rules balance the needs of our farmers and rural communities,” said Secretary-designee Brad Pfaff of the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP). “I encourage citizens to come to a public hearing near them to make their voices heard.”

In each of the six locations, there will be two sessions to accommodate citizens’ schedules, from 1-4 p.m. and 5-8 p.m. Staff from the will present information about the proposed changes, and then allow most of the time for public comments. Attendees may also submit written comments.

The dates and locations of the hearings are:

  • Oshkosh – Thursday, Aug. 15, James P. Coughlin Center, 625 E. County Road Y, conference room A & B
  • Eau Claire – Monday, Aug. 19, Chippewa Valley Technical College, 620 W. Clairemont Ave., Business Education Center, Room 103A
  • Wausau – Tuesday, Aug. 20, Entrepreneurial and Education Center, 100 N. 72nd Ave.
  • Madison – Thursday, Aug. 22; Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection; 2811 Agriculture Drive; Boardroom 106
  • Onalaska – Wednesday, Sept. 4, Stoney Creek Hotel and Conference Center, 3060 S. Kinney Coulee Road, Thomas G. Rowe Room
  • Spooner – Thursday, Sept. 5, DNR Service Center, 810 W. Maple St., Community Room 112 

Members of the public may also mail or email comments, or post them online:

Comments must be received by the end of the day on Friday, Sept. 13. 

Find more information about livestock siting and the rule revision online.

Fact sheet


  1. Ensure consistent technical standards
  2. Modify standards in the rule based on recommendations from the Technical Expert Committee
  3. Improve the process for local implementation

Nutrient Management Standard

  • Updates the nutrient management standard to the NRCS 590 technical standard in ATCP 50
  • Adds the 2011 cropland performance standards in NR 151 (five-foot tillage setback and Phosphorus Index standard) to the existing 2002 performance standards

Waste Storage Facilities Standard

  • Updates the waste storage facilities standard to the 2017 NRCS 313 technical standard
  • Requires more effective evaluations of existing manure storage structures to protect from structural failure and significant leakage

Runoff Management Standard

  • Updates to the 2016 NRCS 635 and 2017 NRCS 629 technical standards for runoff controls from feed storage and animal lots, with exceptions that give flexibility to smaller livestock facilities:
    • Allows the use of vegetated treatment areas at existing animal lots
    • Allows the use of vegetated treatment areas or other runoff controls at new or expanded feed storage structures <1 acre in size

Odor and Setbacks Standards

  • Proposes a new system for managing odor based on property line setbacks. Larger setbacks are applied to higher odor-producing livestock structures (e.g. manure storage, hog housing, poultry layer housing, beef housing with slatted floors, dairy housing with alley flush), and credits for reducing the setbacks are given for installing and implementing odor control practices
  • Maintains basic setbacks from property line and public road right-of-way for other livestock structures while adding a 200-300 foot setback for facilities at 2,500 or more Animal Units

Improved Processes for Local Implementation

  • When a siting applicant uses a WPDES (CAFO) permit to show compliance with water quality standards, requires specific documentation to ensure that the WPDES permit is for the same proposed facility and same number of Animal Units as the siting permit application indicates
  • Defines procedures for permit modifications and limits modifications to the following changes:
    • When constructing or altering one or more livestock structures, with no increase to the maximum number of Animal Units allowed at the facility
    • When increasing the maximum number of Animal Units by no more than the lesser of 20% or 1,000 Animal Units, with no construction or alteration to livestock structures
  • Allows local governments to monitor permit compliance either by:
    • Requiring an operator to certify compliance using a DATCP-approved checklist
    • Inspecting the facility using a DATCP-approved checklist


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Public input invited on Wisconsin livestock farm rules