LWV/ABC Testifies at Bayfield County CAFO Ordinance Hearing

Dee Johnson, co-chair of the LWV/ABC’s Water Committee, testified December 17, 2015 at the hearing held by Bayfield County’s Large Scale Livestock Study Committee, in support of the operations ordinance and other regulations developed by the Committee after months of careful study.  

Comments by ABC/LWV:

I am here on behalf of the League of Women Voters of Ashland & Bayfield Counties.  We very much appreciate both the Committee’s thorough review of the potential impacts of CAFOs, and the efforts the County has made to keep its residents informed and involved.  The Committee’s extensive work has allowed it to develop an operations ordinance which will hopefully reduce the CAFO impactson the quality of the human and natural environments in Bayfield County.  
We understand that CAFOs have a multitude of potential impacts, including those to surface water, groundwater, microbiology and air quality.  We are glad to see that these extremely grave risks have been addressed in the proposed ordinance.  We also wholeheartedly support the adoption of an animal waste storage and management ordinance, as well as the incorporation of State NR 151 standards into that ordinance.  Together, these County regulations would help fill the gaps in the state regulatory scheme.  This is a self-reporting industry and this region’s CAFO specialist is located over 200 miles away and has 77 CAFOs to monitor.  The County should consider requiring CAFO operators to hire independent monitors to verify that they are meeting state standards, and to prove with written land leases that they have land control for all the acres listed in their nutrient management plans for the duration of their WPDES permit. In addition, the balance of the Committee’s findings and recommendationswhich would provide additional groundwater, air quality, and human and animal health protections, have our strong support.  
The Fish Creek and White River watersheds contain Exceptional and/or Outstanding Resource Waters, and Lake Superior, as you know, contains 10% of the world’s fresh water.  With increasing threats to other drinking water supplies, it is more imperative than ever that we do everything we can to protect the remaining sources of fresh water,.  The LWV Water Position states that “maintaining access to clean water which supports life and a healthy environment is a public trust, a fundamental human right, and is the shared responsibility of all who live or do business in Wisconsin.  .  .  Decisions about water use and management must be made with consideration for public safety and the impact those decisions will have on all current and future generations.”

The League fully agrees with the Committee’s recognition of the “economic and cultural importance of agriculture to Bayfield County.”  Large CAFOs bring none of the benefits to the area that our current family farms do. Rather they directly confer risks of pathogens, disease, and anti-biotic resistance, threatening the livelihoods of our existing farms.

The Badgerwood facility would be the first swine CAFO of this magnitude in the Lake Superior Basin and as such, poses unique and frightening risks. We hope the County will do all it can to require state-of-the-art manure management practices, including adoption of the Committee’s proposed operational ordinance and other recommended measures.  Lake Superior is a priceless and irreplaceable resource, and we cannot do too much to protect it.

The Large Scale Livestock Study Committee will forward the proposed ordinance and other recommendations to the full Bayfield County Board, which is scheduled to take this matter up at their January 27, 2016 meeting.  

CALL TO ACTION: Contact your Bayfield County Supervisor, and tell them to support the operations ordinance. For a list of the Bayfield County Board Supervisors click here to visit the Farms Not Factories website