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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