MADISON — After a mandatory review of the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection’s livestock siting rule, the DATCP board will let the scope statement of the rule expire, with no immediate plans to revisit or revise it.
“I hope there are some things we could do differently if we do this again,” said DATCP board member Andy Diercks at their final meeting of 2019 on Dec. 12.
He added that the agency and board both struggled to find balance between the demands of industry and the public, as well as what was best for the environment, when revising the controversial rule.
On Feb. 4, 2020, the 30 months allotted to the rule making process will end, ultimately ending discussion around ATCP51, an administrative rule that regulates the local government approval for new or expanding livestock facilities in Wisconsin — for now. Unless directed by the DATCP board or Wisconsin legislature, the agency will wait until 2022 to review and revisit the rule again.
This comes after DATCP staff reviewed hundreds of comments that had been submitted and shared at public hearings this past summer, presenting their revisions to the rule to the board during a special meeting in late October. A little over a week after revisions had been reviewed by the board, the vote to submit those revisions was unexpectedly tabled by former secretary-designee Brad Pfaff just days before the DATCP board was scheduled to vote on it.
The livestock siting rule endured push back from several agriculture groups, including the Dairy Business Association, Wisconsin Dairy Alliance, Wisconsin Farm Bureau, Cooperative Network, Wisconsin Cattlemen’s Association and Wisconsin Dairy Products Association.
These organizations argued that the rule and proposed changes to the rule would further hurt Wisconsin’s dairy farmers and industry by imposing impractical and unworkable requirements, particularly relating to odor setbacks.
Sara Walling, administrator of DATCP’s division of Agricultural Resource Management, said her department will be looking broadly at stakeholder engagement and the process as a whole if and when they receive another scope statement relating to ATCP51. Her department will also be hiring a replacement for Chris Clayton, who served as DATCP program manager of livestock facility siting. Clayton was one of the lead contacts for the livestock siting rule.
“We learned a lot, and a lot has changed,” said Angela James, DATCP deputy secretary. “We’re going to work off what we learned.”
Diercks hinted that the DATCP board may be interested in revisiting the rule again in April, May or June of 2020. However, James cautioned them as once they start the process by submitting the scope statement, the 30-month clock starts ticking for the rule making process.
“Our team will be available as resources to the DATCP board as you decide where you’d like to go,” said Randy Romanski, interim DATCP secretary.
The state’s livestock siting rule went into effect in 2006 and hasn’t been changed since its adoption. The administrative rule is required to be reviewed by the department every four years, with technical committees undertaking this review in 2010, 2014 and in 2018.
For more up-to-date information on ATCP51, visit datcp.wi.gov/Pages/Programs_Services/LSRuleRevision.aspx.