A large handful of people made their voices heard concerning the Polk County Board’s vote to either extend, or not extend the Swine CAFO.
A group gathered in front of the building before the meeting with signs. Some made appearances to give comments during the meeting, while others phoned in.
Marcia Marquard of Sterling said she thought the committee handling the subject would, “Protect public health, the environment and property values.” She said over the past 12 months she had become increasingly less encouraged and disappointed. “Proposed ordinances, amended ordinances and new ordinances; worse than the previous ones, all based on signing were recommended. These ordinances would not protect all of Polk County,” she said.
She said Stake Holder sessions and Public Comments were overwhelmingly opposed to CAFOs in the county. She told the board that their constituents care about the decisions they would make later that evening. She said, “Please vote ‘NO’ to resolution 37:20.” It is wrong for Polk County.” She suggested they instead vote ‘yes to extending the Swine CAFO Moratorium.
Bill Maassen, a Supervisor in the Town of Eureka, said that when the CAFO discussion began, the Town of Eureka board agreed to listen to their constituents. “They said ‘No CAFOs’ so no matter what my own feelings are about the subject was, guess what, we are going to work to get no CAFOs,” said Waassen.
He said his board had only found negative and no positive data concerning CAFOs. He encouraged the board start doing what the residents of Polk County want done. He said, “A majority of Polk County residents do not want CAFOs. It ain’t that hard guys.”
Mary Curren, Town of Eureka, said she felt the whole CAFO topic needed to be re-looked at and re-visited.
Kim Dupre of Marine on St. Croix Minnesota, formerly of St. Croix County, Wisconsin told the board what they decide about CAFOs does affect people downstream from them. She said she grew up on a farm. “I can relate to the numerous farm families who are struggling right now,” she said. She urged the board to continue the moratorium. She said, “I get that farming has changed, but what has not changed and will not change is our human need for clean air and clean water.”
John, from Frederick said concerning Swine CAFOs you must. “Balance the needs of the economy, the needs of the environment and needs of the needs of the society.” He said the evidence he has found, finds Swine CAFOs to be dangerous. “It is the scale that can be dangerous. I am for extending the moratorium.”
The lone opposite voice was Sara Byl a dairy farmer from Laketown Township. She said, “I have been told Polk County doesn’t want to harm its local farmers or dairy producers or the other CAFOs we have in the county. I thought this was a SWINE CAFO issue.” She said she has a 9-year-old son right now and wonders if no CAFOs are allowed, if they will be allowed to expand their farm someday if her son returns home and decides to farm with them. She urged them not to extend the moratorium.
The board had two resolutions to vote on, which were whether or not to extend the swine CAFO moratorium.
Jason Kjeseth gave a brief history of the swine CAFO issue. He said the first Moratorium was passed October 15 of last year for six months, the next in February for six months, which means it is set to expire again October 15. He said County staff and committees had spent a lot of time discussing the issue with residents. He said the staff had reviewed scientific studies and public comments and compiled information to put into a report that was released last June. “June 16 the committee had narrowed down a proposed ordinance amendment. That amendment would include a Swine CAFO conditional use permit in the Ag 20 zoning district. So staff at that time thought is was sufficient to amend the ordinance that is before you tonight,” he said.
Kjeseth said at a July Public Hearing, 144 written comments was submitted. He said about 75 percent were from people who wanted regulations. “About half of them wanted stricter rules than what are being proposed tonight. The other 25 percent did not want any rules,” said Kjeseth.
After lengthy discussion, much of which included how other counties in Wisconsin have legally handled CAFO situations, Joe Loso, Assistant Corporation Council, offered these thoughts to the board saying, “This board can make a decision. My job is to tell you if I think we can defend it. So whether another county did or did not do something is a policy decision of their board and just because they did it, doesn’t mean it is legal.”
In the end, Resolution No. 36-20: Resolution Extending Moratorium on Swine CAFO’s received a “yes” from Duncanson, LaBlanc, Route, Middleton, Pritchard, Warndahl and Luke.
A “no” came from Arcand, Demulling, Olson, Ruck, Kelly, O’Connell and Bonneprise.
Due to a tie, Chair Nelson voted. His vote was a “No.”
36-20 did not pass, thus there was no extension.
Resolution No. 37-20: Amendment to Polk County Comprehensive Land Use Ordinance related to Swine CAFO’s in the Agricultural 20 Zoning District was voted on after an amendment was made for Health and Human Services and the Environmental Services Committee to continue to work on the matter for future consideration by the Board.
Votes for “Aye” came from Bonneprise, Demulling, Route, LaBlanc, Ruck, Pritchard, Kelly, O’Connell, Luke, Duncanson and Nelson.
Votes for “No” came from Olson, Warndahl, Middleton and Arcand.