Wisconsin business group seeks to block local large-scale livestock ordinances

Another industry lobbying organization challenges new operating rules in St. Croix River region.




2 minute read

Hog CAFO in North Carolina. (Photo by Emily Sutton, Waterkeeper Alliance, via Flickr)

Wisconsin’s largest business lobbying group continues fighting local control over polluting livestock factories. In the latest of many attacks, the Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce (WMC) is demanding that the tiny Town of Laketown repeal an ordinance protecting citizens’ health and property values.

“We’re getting pretty use to this type of intimidation,” said Lisa Doerr, a Laketown farmer. “In 2020 these lobby groups actually sent a letter to our county board saying that passing a moratorium was a felony offense.”

The Notice of Claim (NOC) filed on April 19, 2022 uses local claimants as proxies. The Byls run an estimated 300-head dairy that has been fined for illegally dumping manure. The Spoestras are commodity growers and have some livestock.

In a surprise twist, WMC is also claiming that Laketown’s livestock ordinance harms Scott and Jen
Matthiesen who operate a nudist colony, Freedom Valley Campground.

This latest move is clearly a bad faith claim. The NOC purposely misconstrues the legal basis for Laketown’s ordinance arguing that it violates Wisconsin’s Livestock Siting Statute 93.90. Animal factory developers love to brag about writing the law because it severely limits local control.

However, nothing in Laketown’s ordinance refers to siting. The ordinance addresses operations, not siting. Accordingly, Wisconsin Statute 93.90 has no application to the enforcement of the ordinance. Wisconsin’s regulations address the millions of gallons of feces, urine and process water these factories produce but are poorly enforced. Air pollution, carcass disposal, biosecurity, fire safety and road damage are just some of the other issues addressed by Laketown’s ordinance.

Recent outbreaks of the highly pathogenic avian flu also point to the lack of local oversight. For example, Jefferson County residents woke up in March to 2.7 million chickens infected with highly pathogenic avian flu composting at the end of their driveway. Jennie-O announced recently that they are euthanizing nearly 50,000 turkeys in Barron County.

“These big business attorneys purposely intimidate little towns like Laketown with legal action,” said Doerr. “They control about a hundred Madison law makers but not the thousands of local leaders trying to protect our health and property values.”


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Wisconsin business group seeks to block local large-scale livestock ordinances