Wisconsin Town to Appeal Decision Allowing a Factory Dairy Farm

Saratoga, WI is appealing a trial court decision that will allow the construction and operation of a 5,300 cow dairy farm.  Notice of appeal was filed Monday, June 15 in Wood County, Wisconsin.

The 7,000 acre farm is slated to offer many new jobs to Central Wisconsin. The Wysocki Family of Companies also promises to use the 7,000 acres to allow for grazing, as well as growth for potatoes and other vegetables.  Wysocki plans to use manure produced by the 5,300 cattle as nutrients for the potato and vegetable soil crop.

As with any large scale factory farm, the risk of run-off pollution is ever-present with large scale land application of manure. Soil density, precipitation, temperature, and amount of pollutants (such as nitrogen and phosphorous) require a delicate balance, and it is notoriously difficult to environmentally enforce or control such methods.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is still reviewing the environmental impact of the agricultural pollutant permit applications.

California Passes Bill Strict on Fraud at Farmers’ Markets

California passed AB 1871, which does two major things, among other provisions.  First, it restricts and criminalizes fraud at farmers’ markets in the state.  Second, it increases the daily stall fee from $0.50 to $2.

The bill first criminalizes any statement (oral, printed, or otherwise) that is misleading regarding the products area of production, producer identity and method of production.  Violation of such law is a misdemeanor, meaning 6 months (maximum) or a fine of $500-$5,000.

The rise in vendor fee is expected to raise $1.4 million annually and will be deposited into the Department of Food and Agriculture Fund.  This fund will be used to promote transparency.  Vendor fees will be used to evaluate county enforcement procedures, conduct hearings for violating these laws, maintaining a list of farmers’ market locations, maintaining lists of certified producers, and maintaining lists of producers whose certification was revoked.

This law also regulates the use and meaning of the term “California-grown,” directs the administrative agency to pass rules that regulate and promote wholesomeness of agricultural products, and regulates what constitutes a “certified” farmers’ market.

For further information on what this bill means for California, see this article.

Labor Law and Poultry Processing Plant

The Seventh Circuit released a recent opinion on a labor law issue at a poultry processing plant.  In Mitchell v. JCG Industries, employees of a poultry processing plant sued for payment for time spent “doffing” before and after lunch breaks.  Employees in the poultry plant are required to wear protective gear and uniforms.  The employees claimed the process of robing and de-robing for breaks was taking 10-15 additional minutes of time for which they should be paid.  The employer processing plant claimed the process took only 2-3 minutes.

Out of curiosity, Judge Posner ordered the poultry plant protective clothing and had three court staff go through the process.

In the end, the court found for the employer poultry plant.  Apparently the court staff only took about three minutes to don the protective gear.