Burnett County officials have voted to not extend the county-wide moratorium for another six months, if extended the moratorium would have lasted over two years.
In July 2019, the County Board of Supervisors approved a moratorium on livestock facilities over 1,000 animal units. This was after a hog CAFO (concentrated animal feeding operation) was proposed in the town of Trade Lake.
The county formed the Large-Scale Livestock Study (LSLS) Ad-Hoc to study CAFOs and their potential effects on the county’s public health or safety.
On Thursday the board voted overwhelmingly to not extend the moratorium after an extensive conversation.
“Legally speaking, we pushed the borders with this initial moratorium,” County Chair Don Taylor said. “
Taylor was referencing a state statute that allows cities, villages or town that claim village powers can have moratoriums, but the statute does not say whether counties can have moratoriums.
“Are we ready to defend this in court, because it has the potential to get there,” Taylor stated.
The resolution to extend the moratorium was brought to the county board by district four supervisor Ramona Moody and District five Dorothy Richard. District four includes the southern town of Grantsburg and the northwest corner of Trade Lake and district five is only Trade Lake.
Those two districts, according to Supervisor Craig Conroy, are some of the most susceptible of effecting public health and safety.
“Southwest Burnett County is the most susceptible to nitrate concerns in the soil,” Conroy said.
Conroy serves on the LSLS committee and has been given the task of going of livestock siting and zoning ordinances.
Supervisor Duane Johnson suggested extending the moratorium but only in districts four and five. Johnson said there are a number of farms – dairy, beef, sheep and turkey – and was concerned about holding them back for six more months.
“What do I tell them if they want to expand?” Johnson asked. “If a producer is close to becoming a CAFO, why should they have to wait six months? They will have waited two years. What do I tell them about the rise in construction costs?”
The board voted in favor to amend the resolution to only extend the moratorium in district four and five.
Supervisor Gene Olson worried that the amended resolution could divide farms. Other supervisors had similar concerns.
Richard’s then responded with what she has heard from her constituents.
“People in my district are saying they will move out if this moratorium doesn’t continue,” Richard said.
Moody explained extended the moratorium would allow the land and water departments and land services to work with Conroy to get more research done.
The resolution was defeated with only Moody and Richard voting for approval.