Letter to the Editor


by Kevin Colson -

Antibiotics, foul smells, contamination in the air, waterways and our drinking water, infectious
diseases, subsidies, added costs to infrastructure, lower property values but increased taxes,
community conflict, less economic opportunity and more. Imagine many thousands of farm animals, whether cows, chickens, hogs, etc. crammed together in tight spaces with limited movement. If one animal gets sick, then they all get sick.

Their surroundings are contaminated with infectious microorganisms.
These are only a few of the consequences of what has become known as a CAFO, or
Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation. They are prevalent in many Wisconsin counties and now targeting beautiful Crawford County, the heart of the Driftless area.

CAFOs are large, subsidized factory farms concentrating thousands of animals into a single feeding operation. Over concentration of animals leads to infectious diseases that require a constant dose of antibiotics to attempt to control the spread of diseases. Antibiotics are infused directly into the feed.

Research in Iowa indicates that CAFOs are a source of infectious diseases impacting people’s health, especially children and elderly. History shows that human diseases often originated from animals, such as hogs. CAFOs are not like the hundreds of small, diverse and healthy farms that were common in beautiful Crawford County.

Further, CAFOs are not cost effective. They use a variety of subsidies to survive economically.
They damage our environment and are dangerous to our health. The liquid manure from
CAFOs ends up in streams and rivers that kills aquatic life. From the manure, pathogens mixed with a residual of antibiotics and poisonous chemicals leaches into the ground water we drink.  The risks of "accidental" spills washes into our water (remember the recent deluge of rain).

The air we breathe smells of a foul concoction of infectious bacteria, viruses, fungi, etc, causing health problems. The air simply STINKS. Who pays the subsidies to the CAFO? The taxpayer. Who pays for the pollution to our environment? The taxpayer. Who pays for damages to the roads, waterways and infrastructure due to the constant hauling of manure, livestock, feed, etc? The taxpayer. Whose property values are impacted due to the STINK? The homeowner and small business. As more CAFOs are established, the STINK impacts everyone. The STINK chases away tourists who come to fish and hunt, to pick apples, go to art fairs, etc. Fewer tourists means less revenue for Crawford County.

With home values falling, local businesses and other residents will pay more taxes, just to maintain the same community services. CAFOs are a health risk and an economic cost to the community, never a benefit. Only the CAFO operator benefits. Crawford County officials need to wake up and smell the STINK and stop these destructive CAFOs, before it is too late.

Kevin Colson, Wauzeka, WI

The pros and cons of manure
By Edie Ehlet -

With the looming proposal for another and larger feeder pig CAFO in southern Crawford County, comes the question for neighboring landowners of considering the value of that manure on your land, as the operation will need many acres to spread that manure on.


While manure is a good nutrient for plants, it is best applied as a “dry” manure on rotationally grazed pastures, as compost, and spread on fields only in amounts that the crops can use.


Issues to consider before signing a contract to allow liquid hog manure on your land includes:


The liquid manure is 96-99% water, a stew that often also includes chemical cleaning agents, antibiotics, along with resulting gasses, ammonia and hydrogen sulfide, which can cause foul odors and respiratory discomfort.


Manure in this unstable liquid form can more easily run off and cause water pollution, or seep into well water.


Heavy manure trucks are damaging to roads and cause soil compaction.


The manure is spread according to the CAFO’s needs, not your convenience, so planning outdoor events becomes challenging. Simple joys like gardening and spontaneous family cookouts can become extremely unpleasant when conditions are “right”.


Consult a lawyer before signing a contract. If someone’s property is damaged, or a well is polluted, the Wi Supreme Court has ruled that you, the landowner, may be held responsible.


The manure is spread according to a nutrient management plan. However, the laws allow too much manure on too little land, and are barely enforced, which results in phosphorus build up in soils and loss of nutrients into our watersheds and drinking water.


Do you want liquid hog manure in your life ongoing? 


Edie Ehlert

Ferryville, WI

Who wants a hog CAFO on the Kickapoo?

By Forest Jahnke, Crawford Stewardship Project

Crawford County has a long history as a beautiful and productive agricultural community, and many of us hope it remains so.

Unfortunately, extreme financial pressures, the result of corrupted government policies and rampant corporate consolidation in agriculture, have been squeezing out small and medium sized farms.

Big Ag promotes large-scale monocultures and concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) as “efficient”, “scientific”, and the only way to make a decent living producing food.
We are told that the draining of people from our rural communities and the costs to our water, air, soil and health are simply burdens we, and future generations, have to bear… or these impacts are denied and we are told that the Wisconsin DNR regulations have it under control.

We are told by the powers that be that allowing a massive pig Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) along a narrow ridge above the Kickapoo River is inevitable.
Fortunately, some of us do not believe everything we hear, and feel the call to encourage regenerative and sustainable agriculture and protect what we hold dear.

The sinkholes, caves, and springs on and around Harvest Lane show how interconnected the surface and groundwater are, and the stream monitorings already show alarming E. coli and phosphorous levels. Well tests are being conducted by concerned neighbors.

These 5,500 sows would produce enough piglets to fill 27 CAFOs with hogs to fatten, and with Iowa filling to the brim with these operations, we can expect more of them to continue popping up in Southwest Wisconsin, if we continue to allow it. Are you within 50 miles of Southern Crawford County? These piglets and their manure, and everything that goes with that, could become your neighbors.

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services estimates 47% of WI wells already do not meet health standards, hundreds of streams are being newly listed as “impaired” by the Wisconsin DNR.

We are working with local governments, non-profits, and agricultural organizations to launch a Driftless Area Water Study to determine local drinking water quality. Perhaps it is time we consider a moratorium on more of these operations until we can assure the people of this state that their right to clean drinking water can be protected.

At the recent Marietta Township special meeting on the proposed hog CAFO, Crawford Stewardship Project was there to help answer questions, ask a few of our own, and support the voices of the local residents and the watershed.

If you care deeply about the Kickapoo River, area drinking water, and the future of our agricultural landscape, feel free to reach out to us at fjahnke@crawfordstewardship.org or 608-632-2183, and we can plug you into the action!

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