GOP creates more factory farm regulators

MADISON, Wis. - Republicans on the Legislature's finance committee have rejected Gov. Tony Evers' plan to dramatically increase factory farm fees.

Evers' state budget would increase the farms' annual pollution permit fee from $345 to $660 and impose a new $3,270 fee payable every five years.

The new revenue would fund five regulatory positions within the Department of Natural Resources to speed permit approval. Evers' budget also would transfer 9.5 positions from the DNR's nonpoint pollution operations to factory farm regulation.

Republicans on the finance committee erased the fee increases from the budget Tuesday. They inserted their own plan into the budget that would create four new factory farm regulatory positions, one fewer than Evers wanted. The plan retains the position transfers, however.

The number of factory farms in Wisconsin has spiked in recent years. As a result the DNR has struggled to keep up with permit reviews and renewals. As of this past May, 20.3 percent of factory farms were operating with an expired permit.

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