Series: CAFOs, Manure And Water

Wisconsin's wealth of freshwater is foundational to the state's agricultural economy. As livestock farms in the state grow ever larger in the 21st century, their impact on this resource is growing. The largest of these farms are termed concentrated animal feeding operations, often called CAFOs. These farms with hundreds or thousands of animals not only require more water, but they also produce colossal amounts of manure. Managing this livestock byproduct is a major undertaking. Manure can serve as a resource for fertilizing crops or for generating energy. At the same time, this waste regularly enters surface and groundwater, contaminating wells and wildlife habitat. How manure is handled is a focus of policymaking, and its increasing volumes can contribute to contentious relationships between CAFO operators and their neighbors.
 
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The American Public Health Association is calling on federal, state and local governments to halt approval of large livestock farms until more is known about their impacts to public health.
Large livestock and poultry farms generate complaints for the stenches they can produce. But do any stink more than the others?
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One reason the Wisconsin State Senate rejected the nomination of Brad Pfaff as the state's agriculture secretary was proposed revisions to livestock siting rules. Wisconsin Farmers Union President Darin Von Ruden discusses these proposals and the politics surrounding them.
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One factor central to policy debates of livestock siting and other agricultural policies in Wisconsin is the state's "right-to-farm" law. National Agricultural Law Center attorney Rusty Rumley discusses Wisconsin's version of the law and similar laws across the nation.
How can livestock odors be measured and quantified in a systematic and fair way? Is it even possible to break down an odor into its component parts, or to identify an acceptable odor threshold? It turns out these questions are the subject of rigorous scientific research.
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Wisconsin has a law on its books that limits nuisance lawsuits against farmers. But as farms expand in size, the conflict with their neighbors grow as well. WisContext associate editor Will Cushman discusses the state's "right-to-farm" law and debates over how to regulate growing farms.
A state statute explicitly protects agricultural operators from all but the most serious nuisance lawsuits brought by neighbors. It's known as Wisconsin’s "right-to-farm" law.
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A proposed CAFO in Burnett County is receiving pushback from local residents who say the large farm could have adverse effects on their community. WisContext associate editor Will Cushman discusses how the state of Wisconsin monitors and regulates odors emanating from CAFOs.
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Facing low commodity prices, trade uncertainties and challenging weather, Wisconsin's farmers are struggling on multiple fronts. U.S. and state agriculture secretaries Sonny Perdue and Brad Pfaff share their perspectives on the state of small dairy farms and the industry as a whole.
Wisconsin's self-proclaimed moniker as "America's Dairyland" is taking on fresh meaning in the 21st century thanks to a growing market for milk from an animal that bleats rather than moos.