Mark Moran, Producer-Editor
Monday, October 23, 2023
Family-farm advocates in rural Wisconsin are pushing back on Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations, or CAFOs, as the livestock industry becomes more concentrated. They have met with resistance from local officials.
Hundreds of residents of Pierce County, nestled along the Wisconsin – Minnesota border, are concerned about a proposed expansion of CAFOs in the county.
Danny Akenson, field organizer with a group called Grass Roots Organizing Western Wisconsin – or GROWW – asked county officials to put a moratorium on CAFO expansion.
“That moratorium did not pass,” said Akenson. “In its place, the county decided to create a groundwater advisory committee which will be studying the effects that CAFOs can have on our groundwater.”
Similar efforts at halting CAFO expansion have failed in other Midwest and Plains states, where advisory groups have also been formed, and where CAFOs have the potential to pollute groundwater.
Large, corporate-owned farms say their operations are more efficient than small family farms, and are simply meeting a growing demand.
Akenson said advocates are trying to work with local officials to at least slow CAFO expansion.
Known for dairy farms and cheese curds, residents of Pierce County towns – such as River Falls, Spring Valley and Ellsworth – want to preserve the rural, pristine way of life the area is known for.
“A lot of people come here looking for that rural way of life,” said Akenson, “that you would not get in a place like the Twin Cities, for example.”
CAFOs have been cited for a host of environmental problems as they expand across the country.