After reviewing hundreds of comments received from the public, the Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection has significantly revised its proposed livestock facility siting rule. The revisions make appropriate changes to address odor management concerns and other areas that were the focus of public comments.

Department staff estimates that 800 people attended the 12 hearings last March. About 140 people testified at the hearings and an additional 400 letters and e-mails were received on the proposed livestock siting rule.

"The proposed changes are in response to the many comments and concerns raised by farmers, government, bankers, and environmental interests," says Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection Secretary Rod Nilsestuen. "We need to provide livestock producers with a predictable and fair framework to grow and modernize while protecting the interests of the communities where these new and expanded operations are located."

Key changes to the proposed Livestock Facility Siting rule include:

  • Major revision to the facility odor management standard.
  • Use of local setbacks with state maximums and the changes to allow grandfathering of existing structures.
  • Improvements to help local governments administer the rule including a six-month grace period to adopt ordinance and increase fee cap of $1,000 (up from $500).
  • Addition of a manure storage setback of 350 feet for new structures to protect public health.
  • Elimination of odor management standard for land spreading (which is not reasonable and is too complicated) and mortality management standards (which duplicates existing law).
  • Many technical changes and definition changes to help clarify the rule (for example, a definition for winter grazing area was added).

"The majority of comments received were targeted toward the odor management standard. We've created a two-part standard that should be a more reasonable measure of what is realistic on a livestock operation," Nilsestuen said. "The odor management standard will look at predicted odor and distance to affected neighbors. It's not a nuisance standard but a tool to predict odor."

In June and July, the department conducted public field tests to evaluate the revisions to the odor management standard for livestock facilities. The revised standard was tested on a random sample of large dairy farms that operate under a permit issued by the Department of Natural Resources. The department also collected farm information from producer groups to evaluate the impact of the revised odor standard. The department is also working with the University of Wisconsin to ensure that sound science supports the proposed nutrient management requirements within the revised rule.

The department will finalize the draft rule in August and present it to the Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection Board in September. The proposed rule will go to the legislature in October or November for review.

"As the process moves forward, we will continue to remain open and responsive to the needs of our stakeholders," Nilsestuen said. "I am grateful to all the people who attended the rule hearings or sent in comments on the proposed rule."

Call (608) 224-4613 for more information on changes to the siting rule or go to: Click on the link to siting livestock operations under "Popular Topics."

Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection