The Midwest Environmental Advocates (MEA) recently awarded Lisa Doerr of northern Polk County with its annual Bill Iwen Environmental Justice Award for her work to protect her community and waterways from proposed factory farms.
“Midwest Environmental Advocates has had the honor of working closely with this year’s award winners,” said MEA Executive Director Tony Wilkin Gibart during the awards celebration. “We have witnessed their transformative advocacy up close, and the persistence, integrity, and successes of these three individuals fill us with hope.”
Doerr and her husband raise hay on their farm in the town of Laketown, selling products to nearby livestock producers. Since Cumberland LLC first proposed a large hog operation in her neighboring town in 2019, Doerr has been a leading voice for protection from such large-scale livestock facilities.
“Lisa spearheaded efforts to develop more protective regulations after local residents learned in 2019 about Iowa-based Cumberland LLC’s plans to build a massive confinement facility that would house up to 26,000 hogs. Laketown, Eureka and four neighboring towns declared moratoria on new CAFOs in their jurisdictions to allow time for the towns to study the potential negative impacts of large livestock facilities on their communities. The six towns formed a joint committee, which was chaired by Lisa, to review the latest scientific literature related to groundwater, surface water, air quality, disease transmission and property values.” Four of the towns now have ordinances in place that incorporate the findings and recommendations of the committee. Burnett County officials have also taken action to strengthen county CAFO ordinances. Through her work with the Sustain Rural Wisconsin Network, Lisa continues to support communities looking to hold large livestock operations accountable for their environmental, health and social cost.”– Midwest Environmental Advocates
Other recipients of this year’s award were Deanna Branch of Milwaukee and Maria Powell of Madison. The award is named for Bill Iwen, a native of Kewaunee County who grew concerned in the 1990s about Wisconsin’s water quality problems. Iwen worked with members of his community to found the Tri-Lakes Association and Citizens Advocating Responsible Environmental Stewardship (known as Kewaunee CARES), and helped launch a successful 2014 petition asking the federal Environmental Protection Agency to address problems with the Safe Water Drinking Act.
Midwest Environmental Advocates is a nonprofit law center based in Madison, Wis. that helps protect healthy water, land, and air.