Second western Wisconsin county pauses factory farm proposals

Polk County enacts six-month moratorium on hog CAFOs while studying threats and possible protections.




2 minute read

Photo courtesy Polk County Land & Water Resources

The Polk County Board of Supervisors last week ordered a six-month halt to new permits for large hog farms while the western Wisconsin county learns more about protecting air, water, and health.

Polk County contains numerous St. Croix River tributaries, including much of the Apple, the headwaters of the Willow River, and large parts of the Trade River, Wolf Creek, and several other streams.

Concentrated animal operations can create increased runoff of manure and other substances, which have contaminated waterways in Iowa and other states.

Polk follows Burnett County, which responded to a proposed hog CAFO in Trade Lake township by passing a 12-month moratorium in August.

“It’s a hog issue,” supervisor Brad Nelson, as reported by the Sun, referring to the Burnett County proposal. “It doesn’t affect one farmer in the county.”

Polk County’s prohibits any new permits for farms over 1,000 animals until April 15, 2020.

“This Resolution will temporarily suspend the permitting of CAFOs for the specific purpose of determining whether or [not] it would be in the County’s best interest to impose regulations at the local level for siting purposes,” the resolution’s reads. “It is anticipated that the County will explore whether CAFOs should be a conditional use for zoning purposes. The County may also explore whether a CAFO siting ordinance is necessary or advantageous to further the health and safety of the County. This resolution does not have the effect of ultimately prohibiting CAFOs.”

The board passed the limited moratorium by an 11-3 vote after months of debate in committees and in the board. Supervisors Brad Olson, Brian Masters, and Joe Demulling voted against it. The resolution was ultimately revised by the board to restrict only hog operations, leaving the door open for cattle, chicken, turkey, or other large industrial agriculture proposals.

The resolution authorizes county staff to study the issue, and requires the Polk County Administrator to present findings and recommendations about the issue by March 15, 2020 at the latest.


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Second western Wisconsin county pauses factory farm proposals