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County ups permit fees for manure, livestock structures
Jene Eberle waits in the cab of his tractor as his manure spreader is filled between runs back and forth to a nearby field while working at McGuire and Sons Farm Inc., south of Monroe, Monday, April 7. (Times photo: Anthony Wahl)
MONROE - Permit fees for manure storage and livestock siting in Green County were increased to more closely reflect fees in neighboring counties.

Permit fees for manure storage and livestock siting were previously set at $25 per permit but increased to $500 for manure storage and $1,000 for livestock siting after the Green County Board approved the increases at its March 11 meeting. The increases apply to farms that have a large number of animals, anywhere from 500 to 999 animal units. A dairy cow counts for anywhere between one and 1.4 animal units.

Todd Jenson, county conservationist, said the old permit fees did not account for all the time and paperwork required for each permit issued. He said that in one particular case last year, Green County Land and Water Conservation had to shell out about $1,500 in clean-up fees alone for manure storage and livestock siting structures. Neighboring counties like Columbia charge $200 and Rock County charges $2,000 for manure storage, he added.

Jenson said the conservation department does not make any money off the permit increases. He said the process of siting areas for manure storage and livestock is time consuming. Soil investigations, land surveying, construction, design and alterations have to be analyzed. While the cost of construction falls on the private owner, Jenson said it can take anywhere from three days to three weeks to vet a site and give the go-ahead for construction. He said the low price for a permit has been a long-standing problem.

"We asked ourselves, "Why is it so low compared to other counties?'" he said. "Then we realized, this is really out of whack."

Tom McGuire of McGuire and Sons Farm Inc. said his farm put in a temporary manure storage unit last July. Of all their duties on the farm, he said that dealing with manure and manure storage is the most costly and takes the most time.

"We spent more in rebar and cement than anything, but we want to do it up to code," McGuire said.

The McGuires have about 380 milking cows and about 950 animals total. Tom's brother Dave McGuire said they will always comply with all codes required of them, but he said he was surprised by the increase in permit fees. Dave said he understands why it is important for manure storage to stay clear of wells and road systems.

"We live here, too," he said. "We drink the water."