EPA Plans to Review Permit for Pig Farm in Bayfield County

After opposition arose over the potential construction of a new pig concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO) the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has decided to step and review the permitting process.

Wisconsin currently is home to approximately 240 cow CAFOs, but Badgerwood LLC, a Wisconsin-based subsidiary of Iowa-based Reicks Farms, is looking to construct the first pig CAFO in the state. The proposed CAFO would be located in the Town of Eileen, in Bayfield County and hold approximately 26,000 pigs in three buildings. In February, the Bayfield County Board of Supervisors voted for a one year moratorium on CAFO permitting in order to better understand the issue after local concerns about the potential for water contamination and the nuisance created by the smell of the facility. During the moratorium period, members have said the Board will work to adopt manure spreading ordinances and other regulations to allow CAFOs to responsibly operate in the county.

Badgerwood has moved forward with the permitting process at the state level. It applied for a Wisconsin Pollution Discharge Elimination System (WPDES) permit with the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) in late 2014. The DNR administers these permits under the authority of the EPA. The DNR was in the process of reviewing Badgerwood’s permit when the EPA intervened. 

The EPA reviews 10-20 percent of DNR WPDES permit applications every year. The EPA recently notified the DNR and Badgerwood in regards to its application. An EPA spokesperson stated that due to concerns of local Native American tribes and the size of the facility that the EPA would review the permit to check that it coincides with the Clean Water Act.

Previously Chippewa Bad River Band Tribal Chairman Mike Wiggins has expressed concerns about the placement of the CAFO due to its proximity to waterways that lead to Lake Superior.