A new ordinance has increased standards and requirements for manure spreading in Dane County.
Chapter 49 of the Dane County Code of Ordinances went into effect July 1, replacing subchapter 1 of the county’s older manure ordinance, Chapter 14. Along with cleaning up some confusing language, the new ordinance incorporates recommendations from Dane County’s Healthy Farms, Healthy Lakes Task Force.
These include adopting state standards and prohibitions, broadening manure storage requirements, adding a certificate of use program and expanding the county’s winter spreading permit.
Roger Cohee, vice chair of the city’s Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee, said the ordinance will not affect many farmers in Fitchburg since there are only two dairy farms milking about 300 total cows. The city’s agriculture community has primarily shifted to cash crops in response to low milk prices that dairy farms can’t subsist on, Cohee said.
“It's sad to say Fitchburg had something close to well over a hundred dairy farms at one time and several thousand cows, but now we're down to just two small dairies,” he said.
State agricultural performance standards require that farmers must retain soil on their land, cannot till up to streams of banks and must comply with the state phosphorus index. Farmers must also operate manure storage facilities properly and abandon them if there is a health threat, must have clean water diversions and must have a nutrient management plan on file.
Agricultural prohibitions maintain that manure storage facilities must not overflow, manure piles in a water quality management area must not be uncovered and there must be no direct runoff into water of the state.
A 20-year manure storage permit costs $1,000 and requires that new structures have a 350-foot setback from property lines and roads. Permit users must also include storage systems that can process wastewater and collect runoff from barnyards.
To ensure farmers are following these requirements, the ordinance is introducing a certificate of use program for all manure storages. If the county receives the application by Nov. 1, 2020, it will waive the $1,000 fee.
The ordinance also updated Dane County’s winter spreading permit, which farmers must have if they apply manure during frozen or snow-covered conditions. The permit was previously limited to pumpable liquid manure, but now encompasses all forms of manure including solid waste.
For information about the ordinance, call Dane County conservationist Amy Piaget at 224-3740 or email email@example.com.