The ACES (Alliance Concerned for Environmental Safety) organization has been making their statement known across the state during the month of May.

With a mission to keep small farms in operation and CAFOs (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations) at a minimum in the state of Wisconsin, and nowhere in Vernon County, the group took their concerns to the state capitol in Madison on May 13, where they spoke to members of the Board of Directors of the Department and Ag, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) regarding the Livestock Siting Law ( ATCP 51).

The group was also vocal, and visible, during the annual Westby Syttende Mai celebration last weekend with an educational booth located on Main Street and a herd of cartoon cows walking in the big parade on May 17 all carrying signs supporting family farms, not factory farms.

ACES was organized in late 2008 after landowner Jeff Petry, owner of Petry Trust in Illinois, began soil testing on land the Trust owns in Vernon County with the intentions of developing a 3,200 animal CAFO. The initial development plan would have placed the CAFO, near the city of Westby, in the township of Viroqua, between East Smith Road and Old Town Road. The development plan raised environmental concerns of neighboring landowners, city of Westby residents and officials, along with county land and water committees and environmentalists concerned about air and water quality if such a large operation was allowed to be developed in Vernon County.

As continued pressure was placed on Petry Trust to consider alternative locations to develop the CAFO, Petry began researching other locations in the county including on land they own north of Viroqua near County trunk Y and south west of the city of Viroqua on County Trunk NN and Dach Road.

Petry representative and engineer Marc Bourgault has been fielding questions and concerns about the CAFO, but has not released any statements regarding the CAFO development and to date no permits have been applied for at the county level.

Regardless ACES members are standing vigil over the situation and representatives of the group took their concerns to Madison on May 13 addressing DATCP about serious flaws in the rules of the Livestock Siting Law ATCP 51, including the lack of local control in siting CAFOs, particularly the proposed 3,200 animal CAFO, which could be developed in Vernon County by Petry Trust.

Click here for the rest of this article.