A central Wisconsin company has resubmitted an application for a large-scale hog facility to be located in the town of Trade Lake, Burnett County, Wisconsin. The DNR has confirmed receipt of the application and informed the company, Cumberland LLC of Thorp, that it appears complete and is being reviewed by agency staff.
Cumberland first submitted an application for the facility in 2021. That version was deemed incomplete, and was not reviewed by the DNR. Last October, the agency informed Cumberland that, since it had been so long since the company first began the permit application process, Cumberland would need to start fresh.
Many local residents remain opposed to the proposal. They cite threats to property values, lakes and rivers, and the aquifers they depend on for drinking water, as well as health risks and more.
There are some differences in the latest application, but the basics remain unchanged: the facility would breed sows and raise pigs to weaning age, housing more than 26,000 swine at any given time. It would produce about 7 million gallons of manure and 2 million gallons of other liquid waste per year, which it would spread on 1,846 acres of nearby farm fields as fertilizer. The operation would also produce 27 tons of solid waste per year.
“Cumberland LLC anticipates applying manure according to the following schedule: approximately twice per month for 3-4 day periods in April, May, July, October and November,” the application says. “Spreading will occur in spring before planting and in fall after harvest.”
That means there will be trucks hauling and tractors spreading manure for about a week each month during four months of the year. The intensive application of manure can cause contamination of aquifers and lakes and rivers with nitrate, E. coli, phosphorus and nitrogen. It can also cause significant air pollution that ranges from unpleasant to unhealthy.
The company says liquid manure will be injected into the soil “as much as possible,” or applied to the surface in accordance with state rules. The operation will observe rules that require no spreading within 25 feet of lakes and streams or “conduits” to those waters. In alfalfa fields, the limit is increased to 100 feet.
Based on an analysis of map data provided by Cumberland in 2021 and with the most recent application, there have been minor changes to the fields they plan to use for manure. The company no longer plans on spreading on the fields farthest from the facility, but has added a couple locations closer, including new fields near the Trade River.
In addition to the Wisconsin Pollution Discharge Elimination System permit, Cumberland will also need to apply for a permit from the town of Trade Lake. The rural community passed an ordinance earlier this year with strict rules for the operation of such a facility, though the state’s largest business group recently sued a neighboring town over a similar ordinance.
Because the operation is primarily proposed to house sows and piglets, it is expected that more facilities may be proposed in the future if Cumberland’s application is approved. Other operations that would raise hogs from weaning to market age typically are located near facilities like Cumberland’s.
Most hog CAFOs are located in Iowa, where the numbers of such operations has increased from about 500 in 1990 to 3,500 in 2020, according to a report from the Environmental Working Group. Most lakes and rivers in the state are now contaminated with nutrient runoff from agriculture fields, and underground drinking water is polluted with nitrate and fecal bacteria.
The largest hog CAFO in Iowa, as of 2020, was smaller than the Cumberland’s proposal, with 24,000 hogs in Iowa compared to more than 26,000 proposed in Wisconsin.
St. Croix 360 is committed to ongoing coverage of this critical issue and will have more to share about the proposal soon.