MILWAUKEE — The Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that a rural town lacks the authority to impose tougher water-quality standards on a livestock farm than the state requires.
Magnolia, located south of Madison, granted Larson Acres Inc. a permit in 2007 when it wanted to expand, but included a number of conditions. The farm initially had 1,000 cows and now has about 2,900.
Among the conditions, the farm had to allow the town to conduct monthly water quality tests on its land, and it had to follow certain crop-rotation strategies.
The farm sued, arguing that pollution-control measures are laid out by the state and can't be modified by individual towns.
The state Supreme Court agreed.
The case has been watched by rural Midwest communities struggling to deal with the expansion of so-called factory farms. Similar cases have been filed in Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Nebraska, Ohio and Oklahoma.