First Case to Test Livestock Siting Law Heads for the Supreme Court
The protracted legal battle between the Rock County residents and the reach of big dairy will reach a pivotal point Wednesday when the first case to test the livestock siting law of Wisconsin will be heard the state’s Supreme Court.
The law, which was passed under former Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle and a Legislature controlled by Republicans in 2004, outlined the state standards for location, manure spreading and storage, odor and air emissions, as well as runoff management for new farms of varying sizes or those that are planning to expand
The measure also gave local governments the option on whether they will use the new state standards, or pass their own siting ordinances as long as they are not more restrictive than that of the state.
This particular option is the whole point of the issue in Adams v. Wisconsin, which was raised by eight families living in the town of Magnolia.
When the Magnolia town board tried to include groundwater and manure-spreading requirements on Larson Acres Inc, the largest dairy farm on Rock County, It was eventually voided by the Livestock Facility Siting Review Board.
According to Christa Westerberg, the lawyer representing the eight families, her clients believe that the board exceeded the authority granted to it by law when it changed the town’s permit for Larson Acres.
Tony Ends, a certified organic farmer and one of the plaintiffs in the suit, said, “This is a local case with statewide implications. Many people don’t even know that the law in 2004 so sweepingly took away the rights of local people to control the kinds of (agricultural) practices that take place where they live.” His property, Scotch Hill Farm is located adjacent to Larson Acres.