Lots of folks are asking “What can I do?? Well, here is the information you need.

First of all, thank you for your willingness to help and for supporting the cause. We are doing our best to protect the Trade Lake and St. Croix river watersheds. If you look below you will see a list of many things that you can actually physically do immediately to help us with this challenge. There are supporting documents, including email lists and fact sheets. Feel free to use the information in them to contact as many people as possible as many times as you are able to do. Whether you write a five-page letter/email or a one sentence email, the impact will help. The people making these decisions need to know that there is a very loud voice protecting our land.

Thank you,

The KnowCAFOs Team



Contact Burnett County and State of Wisconsin Legislators and Permit Application Reviewers and local newspapers.

• Gary King, Manager, Leader Newspaper, 715.327.4236

• Greg Marsten, Editor, Burnett County Sentinel, 715-463-2341

• Senator Rob Stafsholt Senate District 10, (608) 266-7745

• Assembly District 28 State Representative Gae Magnafici, 608-267-2365,

• Land Services County Conservationist: Dave Ferris, 715-349-2109 ext 1361,

• Land Services Agriculture Resource Planner: Randy Gilbertson, 715-349-2109 ext. 1381,

• WI DNR Wastewater Specialist: Jeff Jackson, 715-210-1415,

• In Charge of the Cumberland LLC Permit Review: Tyler Dix, 608-220-2096,

• Governor Tony Evers, 608-266-1212,


Actions you can take:

1. Like and repost info from our Facebook page, “Farms Not Factory Farms Burnett County WI”

2. Write emails, make calls.

3. Post lawn signs (Available from

4. Talk about the issues with friends and family

5. Attend Town or County meetings. Support your local Ordinance Committee.

6. Donate to

7. Be informed. Here is a list of some issues relating to CAFOs. (Discussion point sheet. Use any or all of these researched and scientifically based facts). Feel free to cut and paste your favorite parts. Then email your message far and wide.

CAFOs—What Are the Issues?

There are serious health and environmental concerns associated with the development and operation of CAFOs, such as the facility Cumberland LLC is proposing for Trade Lake, that require the implementation of significant protections for residents.

The adverse effects arise not only from the operation of the CAFO facility itself, but also from the more than 9 million gallons of manure that would be generated by the facility–which Cumberland LLC intends to dispose of by spreading it on local farm fields throughout the area.

The National Association of Local Boards of Health published an article entitled “Understanding Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations and Their Impact on Communities.” It can be found online. Significantly, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) posts this article on its website. The article lists a number of concerns associated with the operation of Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations, including:

1. Ground water contamination: Ground water can be contaminated by CAFOs through runoff from land application of manure, leaching from manure that has been improperly spread on land, or through leaks or breaks in storage or containment units. A study of private water wells in Idaho detected veterinary antibiotics, as well as elevated levels of nitrates.

2. Contamination of surface water: The agriculture sector, including CAFOs, is the leading contributor of pollutants to lakes, rivers and reservoirs. It has been found that States with high concentrations of CAFOs experience on average 20 to 30 serious water quality problems per year as a result of manure management problems.

3. Diminution of air quality: In addition to polluting ground and surface water, CAFOs also contributed to the reduction of air quality in areas surrounding industrial farms. Animal feeding operations produce several types of air emissions, including gaseous and particulate substances and CAFOs produce even more emissions due to their size. The most typical pollutants found in air surrounding CAFOs are ammonia, hydrogen sulfide, methane, and particulate matter, all of which have varying human health risks.

4. Greenhouse gas and climate change: CAFOs emit greenhouse gases, and therefore contribute to climate change. Globally, livestock operations are responsible for approximately 18% of greenhouse gas production and over 7% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. While carbon dioxide is often considered the primary greenhouse gas of concern, manure emits methane and nitrous oxide which are 23 and 300 times more potent as greenhouse gases than carbon dioxide, respectfully. The EPA attributes manure management as the fourth leading source of noxious oxide emissions and the fifth leading source of methane emissions.

5. Odors: One of the most common complaints associated with CAFOs are the odors produced. The odors that CAFOs emit are a complex mixture of ammonia, hydrogen sulfide, and carbon dioxide, as well as volatile and semi-volatile organic compounds. These odors are worse than smells formerly associated with smaller livestock farms. The anaerobic reaction that occurs when manure is stored in pits or lagoons for long amounts of time is the primary cause of the smells. Odors from waste are carried away from farm areas on dust and other air particulates. Depending upon things like weather conditions and farming techniques, CAFO odors can be smelled from as much as 5 or 6 miles away although 3 miles is a more common distance.

6. Insect Vectors: CAFOs and their waste can be breeding grounds for insect vectors. House flies, stable flies, and mosquitos are the most common insects associated with CAFOs. House flies breed in manure, while stable and other flies breed in decaying organic material such as livestock bedding. Mosquitos breed in standing water and water on the edges of manure lagoons can cause mosquito infestations to rise. Flies can change from eggs to adults in only 10 days, which means that substances in which flies breed need to be cleaned up regularly. The John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found evidence that houseflies near poultry operations may contribute to the dispersion of drug-resistant bacteria. Moreover, since flies are attracted to and eat human food, there is a potential for spreading bacteria or pathogens to humans, including microbes that can cause dysentery and diarrhea. Mosquitoes spread zoonotic diseases, such as West Nile virus, St. Louis encephalitis, and equine encephalitis.

7. Pathogens: Pathogens are parasites, bacterium, or viruses that are capable of causing disease or infection in animals or humans. The major source of pathogens from CAFOs is in animal manure. There are over 150 pathogens in manure that could impact human health. Many of these pathogens are concerning because they can quickly cause severe diarrhea. Healthy people who are exposed to pathogens can generally recover, but those who have weakened immune systems are at risk for severe illness or death. Those at higher risk include infants or young children, pregnant women, the elderly, and those who are immunosuppressed, HIV positive, or have had chemotherapy.

8. Antibiotics: Antibiotics are commonly administered in animal feed in the United States. Antibiotics are included at low levels in animal feed to reduce the chance for an infection and to eliminate the need for animals to expend energy fighting off bacteria, with the assumption that saved energy will be translated into growth. The trend of using antibiotics in feed has increased with greater numbers of animals held in confinement. The more animals that are kept in close quarters, the more likely it is that infection or bacteria can spread among the animals. Seventy percent of all antibiotics and related drugs used in the U.S. each year are given to beef cattle, hogs, and chicken as feed additives. Nearly half of the antibiotics are identical to ones given to humans.

There is strong evidence that the use of antibiotics in animal feed is contributing to an increase in antibiotic resistant microbes and causing antibiotics to be less effective for humans. This is a serious threat to human health because fewer options exist to help people overcome disease when infected with antibiotic resistant pathogens. Antibiotics are not fully metabolized by animals, and can be present in their manure. If manure pollutes a water supply, antibiotics can also leach into the ground water or surface water.

9. Property Values: There is evidence that CAFOs do affect property values. The reasons for this are many: the fear of loss of amenities, the risk of air or water pollution, and the increased possibility of nuisances related to odor or insects. CAFOs are typically viewed as a negative externality that can’t be solved or cured. There may be stigma that is attached to living by a CAFO. One study shows that property value declines can range from a decrease of 6.6% within a 3 miles radius of a CAFO to an 88% decrease within 1/10 of a mile from a CAFO.


The CDC also publishes, on its website, a brief statement regarding AFOs (Animal Feed Operations) and pollutants. The CDC concludes that:

Pollutants from AFOs can be harmful to human and animal life. It can result in reduced biodiversity and death of fish populations. Nitrogen and phosphorus pollution can contribute to algal blooms which can potentially result in negative health affects in animal and humans. Nitrates, which are transformed from nitrogen and manure or from fertilizers, are the most commonly found contaminant in drinking water wells. Nearly 4.5 million people in the United States are exposed to high levels of nitrates from well sources. Microbes that affect animals, such as cryptosporidium can also affect humans and cause illness.


The proponents of CAFOs like to claim that their facilities will not smell, will not spread disease and will be a financial boon to the local economy. Case law from areas where CAFOs are currently located contradicts these assertions. (See, e.g. McIlrath v. Prestage Farms of Iowa, L.L.C., 889 N.W.2d 700 (2016), where the court affirmed a judgment in excess of $500,000 for a land owner located adjacent to a CAFO built in 2012 that housed less than 2500 hogs; and Owens v. ContiGroup Companies, Inc., 344 S.W.3d 717, 722 (Mo. Ct. App. 2011) where the court affirmed an award of $11,050,000 to 13 plaintiffs who claimed to be adversely affected by the CAFO.)

The Wisconsin Legislature has decided that local governments can and should, through their use of zoning power, regulate organizations such as CAFOs. When the legislature enacted Wisconsin Statute § 823.08 entitled “Actions Against Agricultural Uses,” it largely prohibited nuisance lawsuits as a method of dealing with the “conflicts between agricultural  and other uses of land.” (In other words—the legislature wanted to cut down on lawsuits brought against agricultural operations, such as CAFOs, because they smell, pollute nearby property and spread disease.) In that statute, the legislature explicitly states that, rather than relying upon private lawsuits, “local units of government, through the exercise of their zoning power, can best prevent such conflicts from arising in the future, and the legislature urges local units of government to use zoning power accordingly.” (Emphases supplied).

Hog manure is a pollutant. Several Wisconsin Statutes define pollutants:

1. “Pollutant” has the meaning given in s. 283.01 (13), Stats.

(Wis. Admin. Code NR § 151.002.)

2. “Pollutant” means any dredged spoil, solid waste, incinerator residue, sewage, garbage, refuse, oil, sewage sludge, munitions, chemical wastes, biological materials, radioactive substance, heat, wrecked or discarded equipment, rock, sand, cellar dirt and industrial, municipal and agricultural waste discharged into water.

(Wis. Stat. Ann. § 283.01 (Subd. 13))

3. “Pathogens” means disease causing organisms. This includes, but is not limited to, certain bacteria, protozoa, viruses and viable helminth ova.

(Wis. Admin. Code NR § 204.03.)

In Wilson Mut. Ins. Co. v. Falk, 360 Wis.2d 67 (2014) the Wisconsin Supreme Court also held that livestock manure is a pollutant. In that case manure spread on local farm fields by a CAFO contaminated drinking wells. The Court held that the manure “unambiguously” fit the definition of a pollutant. The wells were contaminated despite the fact that the manure was applied to the fields under a nutrient management plan prepared by a certified crop agronomist and approved by the County Land and Water Conservation Department.

(Wilson Mut. Ins. Co. v. Falk, 360 Wis.2d 67 (2014))

The proposed CAFO site in Trade Lake is adjacent to a number of sensitive wildlife and watershed areas. Moreover, the proposed site meets the statutory definition of “susceptible to groundwater contamination” because the soil depth to groundwater is less than 2 feet. In fact, much of the site (and surrounding area) has less than 12 inches from the surface to the groundwater!

“Site that is susceptible to groundwater contamination” under Wisconsin Statutes section 281.16 means any one of the following:


(e) An area where the soil depth to groundwater or bedrock is less than 2 feet.

(Wis. Admin. Code NR § 151.015.)

The outlined areas with green “W”s on the map below designate land with less than 12 inches to ground water. The proposed site in Trade Lake is in the center of the map.


Recently, a group of scientists and engineers published article in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America that highlights the significant negative effect agricultural operations such as CAFOs have on air quality. The research showed that “agricultural production in the United States results in 17,900 annual air quality-related deaths.” “Damages are driven by NH3 emissions mainly from livestock waste and fertilizer application”


Air Quality—Related Health Damages of Food, (

Typical pollutants found in air surrounding CAFOs include:


CAFO Emissions Source Traits Health Risks

Ammonia Formed when microbes decompose undigested organic nitrogen compounds in manure Colorless, sharp pungent odor Respiratory irritant, chemical burns to the respiratory tract, skin, and eyes, severe cough, chronic lung disease

Hydrogen Sulfide Anaerobic bacterial decomposition of protein and other sulfur containing organic matter Odor of rotten eggs Inflammation of the moist membranes of eye and respiratory tract, olfactory neuron loss, death

Methane Microbial degradation of organic matter under anaerobic conditions Colorless, odorless, highly flammable No health risks. Is a greenhouse gas and contributes to climate change.

Particulate Matter Feed, bedding materials, dry manure, unpaved soil surfaces, animal dander, poultry feathers Comprised of fecal matter, feed materials, pollen, bacteria, fungi, skin cells, silicates Chronic bronchitis, chronic respiratory symptoms, declines in lung function, organic dust toxic syndrome


Finally, many residents are asking why the DNR has not denied the Cumberland permit based upon the false statements made by Cumberland LLC in its WPDES certification. The application, which is filed with the DNR, requires that the person signing the document be an owner or corporate officer. Presumably, the reason for that requirement is so there is some accountability for information used by the DNR to decide whether to allow the establishment of the CAFO.

A copy of the Cumberland LLC certification from its WPDES application was signed by Jeff Sauer.

Jeff Sauer signed the application representing that he was an owner or officer. The application explicitly says that making a false statement on the application is a violation of Wisconsin Statutes, section 283.91(4) and is punishable by imprisonment for up to 6 months and a fine of up to $10,000. Sauer has testified under oath that he was neither an owner nor officer when he signed the application.

Q: So you don’t have an ownership interest in Cumberland LLC?

A: Not currently.

Q: Have you ever had an ownership interest?

A: No.

Q: Do you know who the managing member is for Cumberland LLC?

A: Matt Anderson.

Q: Is there more than one managing member, as far as you’re aware?

A: I don’t know.

Q: So the only managing member you’re aware of at this time would be Matt Anderson?

A: Correct.

(Sauer Depo. p. 51-52.) (Emphasis added.) Mr. Sauer also admitted that he is not a corporate officer of Cumberland LLC:

Q: And you aren’t a corporate officer. Right?

A: I don’t know if we got corporate officers in an LLC. Do we? I don’t think so. I don’t think so. We don’t have corporate offices [sic.] in a limited liability corporation.

Q: You’re not a corporate officer. Correct?

A: I’m not a corporate officer.

(Sauer Depo. p. 176.)

In a business that can cause so much damage to the health of residents and the environment and which depends upon the operator to comply with state and local regulation and self-report issues such as manure spills, why would the DNR even consider an WPDES application that has been proven to contain false statements?