Laketown, Wisconsin, is a rural community of 949 people, spread out among the green fields and ample lakes of the state’s northwestern corner, just over an hour outside of Minneapolis. Lisa Doerr has lived there since 2001, when she and her husband started growing hay and grass for livestock and raising horses. The town and its surrounding area, the St. Croix River Valley, are home to lots of small farmers like them; much of the food people eat here is grown locally.
“It’s not a big corporate place,” Doerr said. “There’s a lot to protect here.”
Now, Laketown is at the center of a battle over this rural character, as the town aims to limit pollution from large, industrial livestock farms, also known as concentrated animal feeding operations, or CAFOs. Over the past few months, Laketown and two nearby towns, Trade Lake and Eureka, have passed laws regulating how CAFOs can operate, requiring them to show how they will dispose of dead animals and avoid polluting groundwater. But these policies have faced stiff pushback from the state’s powerful agricultural lobby, which has called the new regulations illegal.
In the past decade,... Read more