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Jeffrey Jackson, WDNR Agricultural Runoff Management Specialist.

If a CAFO is built in Trade Lake or anywhere in Burnett County, they will be reporting to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) and Jeffrey Jackson.

Jackson, agricultural runoff management specialist with the WDNR, gave an overview of his role with concentrated animal feeding operations or CAFOs. He monitors 25 CAFOs across nine counties on the western border on Wisconsin stretching from Buffalo County to Douglas County.

The Large Scale Livestock Committee or CAFO committee invited Jackson to speak and educate the group on CAFOs. CAFOs are farms with over 1,000 animal units. Those types of farms must acquire a permit as a CAFO from the WDNR.

County Administrator Nate Ehalt, who is also chair of the committee, has called this an educational series on agriculture and other factors regarding their CAFO moratorium passed last July.

Jackson explained to the committee that the proposed CAFO in Trade Lake still has not submitted their full application that outlines a majority of the procedures they will need to follow over the five years of a CAFO permit.

A CAFO permit lasts five years and Jackson said the WDNR protocol states he only has to visit a CAFO once in five years. However, Jackson added the department is looking to change that to two visits during the five-year period.

He explained that a lot of the factors with CAFOs revolve around self-reporting.

The WDNR has a rule for manure storage that says a facility must be able to hold 180 days of manure storage. Jackson said a number of CAFOs he oversees go well over that number.

“There’s one farm that has 300 days of storage another has over 200 days,” Jackson said.”

Supervisor Duane Johnson asked if the WDNR was going to change that rule.

Johnson explained that spreading manure in the winter is not ideal for groundwater and runoff.

“180 days is what we require at this point,” Jackson said. “Right now there is no movement to rise that number.”

Supervisor Craig Conroy has stated in the past the WDNR should reconsider that 180 days requirement because winters are different across the state.

“Southern Wisconsin has very different winters than this part of the state in the north,” Conroy said at a Land use public hearing regarding CAFOs last year. “I think that 180 days should be reconsidered for different parts of the state.”

According to the WDNR website, “The proposed operation submitted a preliminary application for coverage under a water quality protection permit for CAFOs issued by the DNR known as a Wisconsin Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (WPDES) permit. CAFO WPDES permits are water quality protection permits designed to ensure proper storage and handling of manure from larger-scale livestock operations. The WPDES permit program does not have authority to address odor, noise, traffic or other issues not related to water quality.”

He said that after the full application is submitted, it needs to be reviewed and approved by the WDNR. Then a nutrient management plan is reviewed and approved. The next step is a draft permit is prepared and a public notice will be posted by the County and local newspaper.

Jackson said this period lasts 30 days and if the WDNR receives over five comments a public hearing will be needed.

“The hearing will take place as close to the site as possible. It doesn’t make sense to have the hearing in Madison,” Jackson said. “It will probably be held in Grantsburg, if it gets to that point.”