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Publication

July 25, 2007Client Alert

Wisconsin’s Livestock Siting Review Board Issues Decision in Favor of Larson Acres, Inc.

In its first decision on an appeal of a local decision on a livestock expansion application, the statewide Livestock Facility Siting Review Board ("Board") on Friday, July 20, 2007, sided with the farmer and reversed conditions placed on a local approval that conflicted with state law. Michael Best & Friedrich LLP represented Larson Acres throughout its entire local permitting process and Friday’s decision by the Board was a complete vindication of Larson Acres’ legal positions advanced by Michael Best.

Michael Best represented livestock producer groups in the crafting, negotiation and lobbying of the State’s landmark Livestock Facility Siting Law ("Siting Law") signed by Governor Doyle in 2004. Since that time, Michael Best has been working with livestock producer organizations in the development of comprehensive statewide standards that apply to applications for local approval filed under the law.

During that entire time, Michael Best represented Larson Acres in its efforts to obtain a local approval for a heifer facility located in the Town of Magnolia in Rock County. The Town Board’s opposition to the facility has resulted in protracted legal battles that were resolved by the parties agreeing to be bound by the process and standards of the Siting Law. Michael Best and Larson Acres worked closely along with experts from Wisconsin’s Dairy Business Association to develop and file Larson Acres’ application for a conditional use permit ("CUP") for the heifer facility pursuant to the new law. Despite efforts by the Town to undermine the application, the Town finally granted Larson Acres a CUP for the heifer facility but attached to the permit conditions concerning nutrient management and other monitoring that conflicted with the state standards. Even though Larson Acres had a CUP in hand, it appealed the Town’s decision to the Board, citing the inappropriate and illegal conditions placed on the CUP by the Town.

After extensive briefing of the legal issues presented in the case, the Board sided with Larson Acres’ arguments and reversed all objectionable conditions. Larson Acres now has a local approval for the construction and operation of the heifer facility that complies with state law.

"The review board’s decision was the right one under the law and vindicates the livestock siting law and state standards," Dave Crass, head of Michael Best’s Agribusiness, Food Processing and Distribution Practice Group, said. "The Larson family should be commended for appealing the Town’s decision on behalf of not only itself but the entire livestock industry. Local governments must adhere to state law and the Town of Magnolia is not entitled to a special exception."

Michael Best has successfully secured dozens of local approvals for the siting and expansion of livestock operations. To obtain further information, please contact Dave Crass at 608.283.2267, or dacrass@michaelbest.com, or Eric McLeod at 608.283.2257, or emmcleod@michaelbest.com.

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