Eau Claire Co. Land Conservation Commission passes large livestock operation moratorium

Eau Claire (WQOW) – Eau Claire County officials are considering stopping large farms from expanding, to inspect how these operations are impacting our water and air.

On Thursday evening, a temporary moratorium on large livestock farms in Eau Claire County was passed to the county’s Planning and Development Committee. The moratorium would prevent expansion or development of these big operations for one year. Operations that fit the bill include those with 1,000 animal units. An animal unit is equivalent to 1,000 animal pounds.

"The moratorium is asking us to review existing ordinances and regulations within Eau Claire County, which control livestock operations to see if we have adequate protections for protection of service water and ground water," said Greg Leonard, manager of the Land Conservation Commission.

Mary Dougherty, president of Sustain Rural Wisconsin Network, said in her experience, townships that pass moratoriums are given time to find potential problems and solutions in factory farming. She saw it happen in 2014, when Bayfield County passed a year-long moratorium.

"That year gave us a chance to really look into ground water, the hydrogeology, air patterns," said Dougherty. "We learned a little bit more about the livestock citing law. There’s a lot of state presumption that happens with factory farms."

She added moratoriums may be scary at face value, but can give everyone a chance to take a breath and do some studying.

Since the moratorium has been passed on to the Planning and Development Committee, the request will be on that agenda on September 11. 

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