No one is completely satisfied with action this week from the Republican-led Joint Finance Committee on proposed fees and additional positions to oversee concentrated animal feeding operations, or CAFOs, in Wisconsin. The growing number of large farms in the state has contributed to increasing concerns over the potential for pollution.
Gov. Tony Evers’ budget proposal would have raised annual pollution permit fees from $345 to $660, as well as institute a new $3,270 fee that would be paid every five years. Lawmakers rejected that proposal. However, they did approve four out of the five positions proposed for CAFO permitting, inspection and enforcement. They also approved transferring 9.5 positions to oversee large farms.
State Sen. Robert Cowles, R-Green Bay, thought the governor’s proposed fees were excessive, but he said garnering support for additional positions was a struggle.
"It shouldn’t have been that way because we have to have a deeper understanding that if you don’t have people working in the wastewater permit section, you’re going to have problems," he said.
He said those positions are needed to help farms maintain compliance with the law. The DNR continues to address a backlog of CAFO permits. Data from the DNR website […]