UPDATED: What would the CAFO in Green County look like? What are the farmers up to?

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UPDATED: Sunday, October 18, 2015 --- 7:30 p.m.

TOWN OF SYLVESTER, Wis. -- An update tonight about a story we brought you a few weeks ago--after freezing a Feeding Operation that would bring in over 5,000 cows, family farmers in Green County are still concerned.

T.J. Tuls, the daily manager of Rock Prairie Dairy in Rock County says, expanding his business to Green County will help reach his father's life-long goal.

"It's always been my dad's goal to milk 20,000 cows and if we're able to get the dairy going in Green County, we'll hit that point," said Tuls.

But that plan has been met with some concerns from Green County farmers like Jen Riemer.

"It's fair to say that 99 percent of the neighbors are absolutely concerned, all but one of the immediate neighbors in a three mile radius has very significant concerns. When you're talking about four giant manure lagoons next to an impaired creek, people listen and people are definitely concerned," said Riemer.

With the moratorium now in place, the family farmers in Green County have less than six months before any decision can be made. Riemer says they're going to be using this time to simply find out more information about the land and its capacities.

"We just want to know more. We want to have more studies done. We feel like we need more data. It's important moving into the future as we consider other CAFOs coming into Green County, knowing where the best places are to site those are and know which places aren't as good," explained Riemer.

Jacob Marty, another farmer in the area says this type of proposal is new for Green County so that calls for an even greater need for research.

"With the moratorium, they appointed local people to serve on a committee and study to find evidence that's site specific. In regards to a CAFO coming in, if that's going to be a smart decision for us to have in our backyard," said Marty.

Tuls however, says a dairy farm of the proposed size is nothing new--just big.

"I grew up on these dairies so this is normal to me. We've always milked a lot of cows," said Tuls.

And says he's looking forward to building relationships with his new neighbors.

"We're confident that we'll be good. Rock Prairie has been good for the community, people who work with us here are happy. The neighbors--we get along with them."

With this freeze on the timeline, Tuls says his company is moving forward with their planning of the proposed facility. Meanwhile, Riemer and other farmers are reaching out to the Department of Natural Resources for a thorough evaluation and also hoping the county will bring in the UW Extension to analyze ground water, surface water and the geology of the area.


Posted: Monday, September 21, 2015 --- 10:00 p.m.

TOWN OF SYLVESTER, Wis. -- A dairy farmer from out of state wants to build a megafarm in Green County. It's not sitting well with some people who live there--the proposal has residents in the Town of Sylvester and Decatur worried about the impact the thousands of cows will have.

Jacob Marty is a 23-year-old 6th generation farmer, working on his father's farm of 410 acres in Green County.

"My farm specializes in perennial pasture based systems that focus on grass fed and grass finished beef cattle, pasture pork and pasture poultry."

By working with a small number of cattle, he sells to the local community. But with the recent Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) proposal by Tul's Dairy Farm, he has an array of concerns. Tuls will be bringing in 5,800 cows, if the proposal is approved.

"I think there's a multitude of concerns--ground water safety, surface water run-off, contaminating surface systems, it can be a bio-diversity and wildlife issue..."

Marty says another concern he has about this operation extends beyond his work and his livestock on his farm. He says he's worried about the future and whether his children would even want to stay in the area to continue the legacy.

"What is the community, the county going to look like in 50 years? Or the generation after me?" asked Marty.

Jen Riemer, another family farmer in the area says a CAFO of the proposed size only hurts family farmers.

"Having a CAFO in the area, just really dwarfs what we're doing. Even people who aren't farmers, hearing that 5,800 cows are in this operation, common sense causes them to take a deep breath," said Riemer.

But Todd Tuls, the owner of Tuls Dairy Farms says his farm is like any other family farm, just bigger.

"This is a family-run business. My son, my nephews, my brothers are all involved within the business," said Tuls.

Tuls also adds that his farm is not coming to endanger family farms.

"We don't see us as a threat to them to be a competition factor to them, but as another fellow dairyman coming alongside and we can learn from each other, help each other in difficult times."

At a Sylvester Town hall meeting tonight, members passed a moratorium regarding the issue. The board will have six months to form a committee to analyze the location to see if it is environmentally fit to host a farm of that size.