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Wis. town barred from beefing up farm water rules
Legal Interview | 2012/07/11 15:29
The Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that a rural town lacksthe authority to impose tougher water-quality standards on a livestockfarm than the state requires.Magnolia, a community about 30 miles south of Madison, granted LarsonAcres Inc. a permit in 2007 when it wanted to expand, but included anumber of conditions because residents blamed it for polluting theirwater supply. The farm initially had 1,000 cows and now has about2,900.Among the conditions, the farm had to allow the town to conductmonthly water quality tests on its land, and it had to follow certaincrop-rotation strategies to reduce nitrate buildup.The farm sued, arguing that pollution-control measures are laid out bythe state and can't be modified by individual towns.The state Supreme Court agreed, ruling that the town exceeded itsauthority by imposing additional measures.The case has been watched by rural Midwest communities struggling todeal with the expansion of so-called factory farms. States throughoutthe farm belt have seen big farms get bigger as the agricultureindustry continues to consolidate.Similar cases have been filed in six other Midwestern states, butWisconsin's is believed to be the first to reach a state supremecourt.

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