Issues: Large-scale Livestock Facilities
Position in Brief
The League of Women Voters of Illinois supports strict regulations of large-scale livestock facilities on the state, regional and/or county levels to include:
Environmental groups and local citizens' groups have been working together to oppose a large-scale dairy in Jo Daviess County. This mega-farm would be the largest such confinement farm operation ever proposed in Illinois and one sited just a few miles from the Apple River Canyon State Park.
According to the Illinois Environmental Council, current Illinois laws such as the Livestock Management Facilities Act were written to cover confinement operations with a maximum of 7,000 animals and are inadequate to address the problems that come with industrial farming on the scale proposed for this mega-dairy.
On February 12, 2008, the Jo Daviess County Board rejected the proposal, but state law states that the county's vote is not binding. The law was changed four years ago giving full control over whether to grant a permit to the state. State law also all but cuts the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) out of the permit process, giving almost total authority to the Department of Agriculture. Although the proposed dairy farm did not meet all of the 8 guidelines for the siting of a large-scale farm, the Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDA) approved the permit, and Jo Daviess County will now have a large-scale dairy.
The effects on the community of large-scale livestock facilities are well documented. The outlook for Illinois is not good. Small Illinois farms are going out of business. It seems likely that more mega-farms are coming to Illinois. They have been pushed out from other states leaving their damage behind.
Law suits are pending; however, the best hope, environmental groups believe, is to change state law and return the power of siting to regional and/or local control.