Hog company proposes spreading manure near two St. Croix tributaries

Iowa corporation would distribute waste as fertilizer on farm fields in Trade and Wood River watersheds.

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Spreading manure. (Chesepeake Bay Program/Wikimedia Commons)

For six to eight days each month in May, July, October, and November, trucks would haul manure away from Cumberland LLC’s proposed hog farrowing operation in Trade Lake, and the waste would be spread on 1,800 acres of agricultural fields within 10 miles.

The manure spreading would take place over three to four day periods, twice during each of those months.

The 26,000 hogs that would live part of their lives at the proposed concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO) in Burnett County, Wis. would produce about 7 million gallons of manure per year — plus another 2 million in other noxious waste. It would all be disposed of by spreading on fields as fertilizer.

New data from Cumberland’s proposal makes it possible to see the specific sites where the Iowa company plans to spread its waste. St. Croix 360 received geospatial data from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and we have produced the below maps to illustrate its potential impact.

Click either the large- or small-scale maps to view.

While the animals would be housed in three big barns located on a compact 40 acres, the true impact of the operation would be felt across about 70 square miles. This would include unrestricted air pollution including toxic gasses, and all the manure spread on the ground as fertilizer.

The targeted area for spreading is interwoven with waterways, including fields next to rivers that flow to the upper St. Croix River. (Get more local CAFO news at KnowCAFOs.org.)

While manure can serve as valuable fertilizer for crops, the soil can only hold so much of it, and plants can only use so much of the nutrients contained. Anything beyond the carrying capacity can run off into lakes and streams, or soak into underground aquifers, contaminating drinking water.

All such large livestock facilities in Wisconsin must have a plan for dealing with their manure to receive a state permit. Cumberland submitted its proposal in May to the Department of Natural Resources, including the maps of fields it intends to use.

The DNR permit is intended to prevent pollution from over-application of manure. Review considers lakes and rivers, soils, aquifers, drinking water wells, slopes, and more to evaluate if the manure can be safely spread. But things don’t always go as planned. One example is Emerald Sky Dairy In St. Croix County, a 1,500-head dairy cattle operation, which polluted a nearby creek after manure ran off fields in November 2019.

The state is reviewing the nutrient management plan at this time. There are significant questions about its accuracy and completeness. Burnett County is currently considering rezoning to create “Exclusive Agriculture Zones,” where unlimited numbers of livestock could be housed in operations like Cumberland’s proposal, while prohibiting the operations elsewhere.


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5 responses to “Hog company proposes spreading manure near two St. Croix tributaries”

  1. mary Avatar
    mary

    Number 1, we need to stop factory farming. Its cruel. Number 2, we need to protect our waterways, small farms and communities. I’m sickened that I almost bought a property in this area.

  2. Tim Avatar
    Tim

    We need to get back to smaller owner operator systems. Bigger is not always better!

  3. Mark Hove Avatar
    Mark Hove

    I agree with you Mary, waterway protection is so valuable.

  4. Carol Lehman Avatar
    Carol Lehman

    We MUST keep the St. Croix River pristine, It is one of the few rivers in the world that is clean. We must pass something down to our kids that will be important to their future. Not pig guts and stench.

  5. David Nelson Avatar
    David Nelson

    I was under the impression that the 9 million gallons of liquid pig poop was to be “knifed” into the soil, however the stock photo clearly shows waste being surface applied, and the article states “spread on” 1800 acres locally. Not that it matters, 9 million gallons is A LOT of waste spread annually regardless of the application! If the folks at the DNR reviewing this proposal take more than 3 minutes to stamp “NOT ACCEPTED” on Cumberland’s application they should all be fired. I think the vast majority of logically thinking adults (and probably most kids) could look at these proposed maps and see the vast amount of lakes, streams, rivers, and flowages and say to themeselves “This is a BAD spot for this operation”. Heavy soils, combined with the level of natural movements of water in this area make for a dangerous combination. Most of us love bacon with our eggs, or porkchops on the grill, nobody’s arguing that, but let’s get real; we aren’t talking a dozen or so hogs on small family farms…we’re discussing an operation with 26 THOUSAND pigs and all that comes with that! Would we allow 26 THOUSAND kids to be jam-packed into our local schools with no consideration of their well-being, infrastructure required to humanely house them, or a means to properly dispose of their waste? Hell no we wouldn’t, so then why is it ok to allow that many pigs to be allowed here, in this location of all places? It makes no sense HERE. But, as most of us who read the newspapers or watch the evening news can tell you is what makes no sense these days sadly become our reality. Common sense has evaded us somehow, probably through apathy. The only way I could ever support this operation is if it was scaled way back to a level that the locals and environment could both handle. Nobody’s hardly even talking about all the rearing farms that will inevitably pop-up locally to finish all these pigs to butchering size. Planting 26 THOUSAND pigs in this area is nothing more than giving your neighbors the big middle finger, proving man would cut his own throat to make a dollar! DNR, if you’re listening, kick this operation to the curb and preserve something much more valuable.

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Hog company proposes spreading manure near two St. Croix tributaries