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Northern Wisconsin Residents Will Lobby Lawmakers During Superior Days

Regional Transportation, CAFO Regulation Highlight Annual Event

Wisconsin State Capitol interior
Phil Roeder (CC-BY)

Plans for a large hog farm in Bayfield County and a bill that would improve regional transportation in northern Wisconsin are the big issues at Superior Days at the state Capitol.

Around 120 people from northern Wisconsin are planning to head to Madison for this year’s Superior Days — an annual grassroots lobbying effort aimed at bringing attention to northwestern Wisconsin issues. The event is scheduled for this Tuesday and Wednesday.

Some Bayfield County residents are lobbying for more state Department of Natural Resources and University of Wisconsin-Extension staff. Farms Not Factories co-founder and Bayfield resident Mary Dougherty argues the state doesn’t have enough staff to oversee concentrated animal feeding operations, or CAFOs, in northern Wisconsin. The state has one staff member in Black River Falls who oversees 50 CAFOs in a 15-county service area.

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Dougherty said she’s worried about state oversight of Iowa-based Reicks View Farms’ plans to build a farm for roughly 26,000 hogs.

“I’d be happy for them to get another couple people in the Black River Falls office,” she said. “God, get someone in Shell Lake even or Spooner — somewhere closer — that will be in charge of this CAFO.”

Dougherty said the county also needs another agriculture agent to work with farmers on nutrient management plans and farm succession.

UW-Extension Superior Days coordinator James Anderson said they’re asking lawmakers once again to pass a bill that would allow counties to ask residents whether they’d support a half-percent sales tax.

“It would still be a community vote that could assess up to a half-percent sales tax,” Anderson said. “That would be divided up between the county and individual municipalities within the county for road improvement.”

Douglas County administrator Andy Lisak said it’s one way to inch forward on repairing more than 300 miles of county road.

“We’re going to see how that plays in the Assembly between now and the time we go down to Madison,” Lisak said.

It’s not playing very well. Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said last week that there’s not enough Republican support for the bill. The Assembly session is set to end this week.

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