Wisconsin governor vetoes bill to remove local control of factory farms

Legislation would have prevented communities from passing any protections from large-scale livestock operations.

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Wisconsin state capitol. (Vijay Kumar Koulampet/Wikimedia)

More than 40 community groups across Wisconsin are celebrating Governor Evers veto of an anti-local control bill sent to him by the legislature. Assembly Bill 957 struck at the bedrock of the state’s democracy – local control. Evers vetoed the bill March 29, 2024.

“While this legislation specifically targeted local control over livestock, it was designed to have widespread implications,” said Mary Dougherty, from Socially Responsible Agriculture Project. “Local control is the foundation of Wisconsin’s democracy. Our system was created to place decision-making authority at the level of government closest to the people impacted by those decisions.”

Senator Romaine Quinn (R-25) was one of the bill’s lead authors. Quinn made it very clear during a March 5, 2024 Senate hearing that Wisconsin’s industrial agriculture lobby wants to preempt legal ordinances passed by local leaders working to protect the public health and property values.

Quinn’s bill stripped power from local communities left defenseless against large livestock factories by weak state laws and enforcement. Local ordinances require livestock operations to address concerns about diminished property values, road damage from thousands of trucks hauling manure and air pollution.

Lobbyists from Wisconsin Farm Bureau and Venture Dairy Cooperative have repeatedly asked state legislators to prohibit legal livestock ordinances passed in three Wisconsin counties and six towns. More towns in multiple counties are studying similar ordinances.

“We know these lobbyists well,” said Lisa Doerr, a farmer from Polk County, WI who helped develop town ordinances. “For years they’ve been telling us that local ordinances are illegal. Their attempt to preempt local control proves what we knew, our ordinances are legal.”

At the same time these lobbyists are looking to stop local control in the legislature, their lawyers are challenging Wisconsin DNR’s authority to regulate livestock operations that spread millions of gallons of raw manure over thousands of acres of land. 

“Quinn’s legislation is part of a multi-year strategy for livestock factories with one goal – no regulation!” said Dougherty. “We’ve seen Governor Evers’ ongoing support for local governments in Wisconsin — most recently with the shared revenue, water quality and fair maps legislation. Hundreds of people across Wisconsin asked Governor Evers to protect our local control and he did!”


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5 responses to “Wisconsin governor vetoes bill to remove local control of factory farms”

  1. Judy Avatar
    Judy

    So relieved! We can move forward on local regulation and assert local controls to protect water and property values.

  2. Karen Engelbretson Avatar
    Karen Engelbretson

    Great news! Great update. Thank you.

  3. Linda B Avatar
    Linda B

    I’m a republican and I agree with Evers in this one. Out town has ordinances controlling large mega farms, now if the state would allow more local control over windmills & solar. I bet Evers wouldn’t allow that though

  4. Dianne Polasik Polasik Avatar
    Dianne Polasik Polasik

    This is a win for our water, soil, and air protection. Thank you Governor Evers.

  5. Robert Clark Avatar
    Robert Clark

    Thanks to Governor Evers again. I used to vote cosistently Republican. And voted for Trump the first time around, Thinking that our goverment needed a true Business man as a leader. What a mistake that turned out to be. I am 78 now and consider myself a Independant ,certainly not a Democrat and not a Biden fan either. But what has been happening locally, and Nationally, brought on by the Republican party . is sad to watch. We need younger people that take the time and think things through, such as the isssue that Evers just vetoed, Thank You Governor Evers! Robert Clark

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Wisconsin governor vetoes bill to remove local control of factory farms