MON AM News: Evers tries again to boost CAFO fees as stakeholders seek permit program revamp; State jumps to 11th in the country for honey production

— Gov. Tony Evers is again proposing a hike in concentrated animal feeding operation permit fees, though the ask isn’t as high as what Republicans stripped from his past budgets.

A concentrated animal feeding operation, or CAFO, is a livestock operation with at least 1,000 animal units. The Department of Natural Resources can also consider smaller operations to be CAFOs if they discharge pollutants into navigable waters or contaminate a well. 

Evers’ budget seeks to increase the annual permit fee for the state’s 337 CAFOs from $345 to $545, $115 lower than what he previously requested. Evers also proposed a notification system to ensure local communities are informed of permit violations related to groundwater after a bill to do so never made it to his desk. Evers’ proposal also recommends investing $145,100 and creating a position to implement advanced wastewater treatments systems on large Wisconsin farms. 

Just last week, De Pere-based Ledgeview Farms was ordered to pay a $320,000 settlement for repeatedly allowing manure and wastewater to spill into nearby waterways. 

The measures are likely to be removed from the budget, with Joint Finance Committee Republicans saying they will build from base levels.

JFC Co-chair Sen. Howard Marklein, who is also a member of the Senate Agriculture and Tourism Committee, in a statement to in response to the proposals said the budget would include “virtually no policy.” 

“I believe that policy decisions should go through the legislative process as a bill so that the ideas receive full public hearings, executive sessions and floor votes before they become law. They should not be buried in a budget document,” the Spring Green Republican said. 

Marklein’s office declined to say whether he would support bills that do what Evers’ proposals recommend. 

Rep. Joel Kitchens, a member of the Assembly Agriculture Committee, told he doesn’t have a stance yet on the permit fee increase. The Sturgeon Bay Republican’s district contains 17 CAFOs, the third-highest amount in the state behind Manitowoc County, which has the most in the state, and Brown County. 

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— Wisconsin last year jumped to 11th in the nation for honey production, after being ranked 17th among U.S. states in 2021. 

That’s according to a report released Friday by the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. It shows honey production from Wisconsin producers with at least five bee colonies hit 2.92 million pounds last year, marking a 48 percent increase over the 1.97 million pounds produced in 2021. 

Wisconsin’s honey crop for the year was valued at $8.86 million, which is 45 percent higher than the previous year’s total of $6.1 million. 

Meanwhile, the total number of honey-producing colonies in Wisconsin increased by 11,000 over the year, reaching 53,000 colonies in 2022, according to the report. That total doesn’t include producers with fewer than five colonies or those that didn’t harvest any honey. 

And the yield per colony reached 55 pounds on average last year, compared to 47 pounds per colony in the prior year.

This state-level growth came as U.S. honey production overall fell 1 percent over the year, totalling 125 million pounds. The national yield per colony averated 47 pounds, the report shows. 

See the full report:

— Wisconsin residents last year accounted for $36.1 million of the taxes Illinois collected on the sale of marijuana, according to the Legislative Fiscal Bureau.

That accounted for nearly 8 percent of what Illinois collected overall in 2022 after it legalized sales of the drug to adults.

The LFB did the estimate at the request of Senate Minority Leader Melissa Agard, D-Madison, who has pushed for Wisconsin to legalize marijuana.

The report noted that Illinois dispensaries made more than $1.5 billion in sales last year. Of that, $239.7 million was sold at dispensaries in counties bordering Wisconsin, and more than half of those sales were to out-of-state residents.

LFB assumed those sales were to Wisconsin residents.

See the memo: 

— The Public Service Commission has announced $10 million in new grant funding through the Energy Innovation Grant Program for 32 projects around the state. 

Funded projects include deploying renewable energy and storage technology, boosting energy efficiency and system resiliency, comprehensive planning and more, according to a PSC release. Grants range from $20,000 to $1 million, and recipients are providing or otherwise securing more than $10 million in matching funds, the release shows. 

The agency got 135 applications requesting more than $42 million in total funding during the application period that ended Jan. 30. 

PSC Chairperson Rebecca Cameron Valcq says the selected projects “represent a new cycle of forward-thinking energy innovation that will create jobs, reduce costs for Wisconsinites, and support the statewide goal of carbon-free electricity consumption by 2050.” 

See the list of funded projects here: 

See the release: 

<br><b><i>Top headlines from the Health Care Report … </b></i> 

— ThedaCare has opened the remodeled portion of the emergency department in its Neenah medical center as part of a $100 million overhaul of the facility. 

<i>For more of the most relevant news on COVID-19, reports on groundbreaking health research in Wisconsin, links to top stories and more, sign up today for the free daily Health Care Report from and</i> 

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# Milwaukee firm to acquire Northridge Mall from the Chinese company found in contempt of court Friday

# Mining company pushes back plans to drill for copper and gold

# Wisconsin lives reshaped by three years of COVID-19



– Nearly $19,000 raised at Professional Dairy Producers Foundation auction 


– Supply chain, labor issues still rattling construction industry

– Milwaukee developer details proposed plans for former Northridge Mall site


– Schools increasingly use emergency teacher licenses, report finds

– $14 million cost overrun for new Neenah High School hasn’t risen in recent months


– AzTec Taqueria in Verona takes tacos on the road


– Foxconn plans to produce electric-vehicle batteries in Wisconsin


– Wisconsin legislators want to extend postpartum Medicaid coverage to 1 year


– 6 business fail underage alcohol sales compliance checks


– Lake Louie Brewing sets opening date for brewery at Oconomowoc ballpark


– Wisconsin farmers are struggling to keep up with record-high inflation and an inconsistent supply chain 


– Blankstein sells two Milwaukee apartment buildings for $18.4 million


– Viewpoints: Bank meltdowns show need for more in-state options for startups


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