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VIDEO | Large turnout as Town of Trenton votes on future of farming during annual meeting

April 17, 2024 – Town of Trenton – About 175 residents of the Town of Trenton showed up Tuesday night for the annual meeting of electors. There are 4,800 residents in the town. Many in attendance were concerned about one issue, farms and how large farms would affect the community in the future.

After taking care of business with reports from police, fire, road maintenance, and pay for elected officials (an increase was approved for $12,500 for town chair and supervisors to $7,500), town chairman Mike Lipscomb addressed “the elephant in the room.”

“This is regarding a zoning amendment tied to a locally owned farm,” he said. The Roden Farm has been in the spotlight over the past few months as a group known as Friends of Trenton circulated papers and surveys expressing concerns about the future size of the farm and fears of what could happen.

“Inaccurate information was spread in the community,” said Lipscomb. “A petition was circulated and signed. I personally reviewed the signatures.”

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Lipscomb spoke for about 10 minutes, making points about zoning, use of rural farmland, and serving the best interest of town.

“No single groups interest will be place above the town,” said Lipscomb. “This isn’t a competition or an us versus them.  This is an us-for-us forum.  No one should feel intimidated or threatened to speak. The core of the community desires the same things – clean air and clean roads.”

Lipscomb said he had been hearing comments from members of Friends of Trenton about how town officials weren’t listening to concerns.

“I’m defending the town government. Transparency and listening,” said Lipscomb, who went on to list meetings he attended and people he spoke to while researching concerns from taxpayers.

“We had a public meeting in October and the attorney was attacked for wearing cow socks. The town found a new lawyer,” said Lipscomb.

Details were passed along about meetings with members of Friends of Trenton including Emily Kearns, Sarah Follett, and John Jansen. Meetings with the DNR. the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, and Washington County.

Meetings with Bob Roden from Roden Family Farm.

“It’s not like we’re stonewalling or not working with the Friends of Trenton,” said Lipscomb.

“We’re putting in a lot of hard work and listening. Educating the plan commission too.  I understand what we do lasts forever… I will continue the pursuit of the prosperity of this town and quality of life.

“The point is, we’re attempting to find solutions for all residents.”

Lipscomb said he spoke with people one-on-one and heard everything from a 1000-hog farm and a 6000-cow farm, and a slaughterhouse.  “I care about the truth, and I don’t differ from you, I value my property just like you do.”

Emily Kearns – Friends of Trenton – I believe they’ve listening to us. They say they do need to make some changes.

2023AnnualMeetingPacket

Sarah Follett – Friends of Trenton – 50% I do agree with Mike Lipscomb. I do not agree, and I will continue to take the high road. This 10,000 number – it was a quote from Roden in the minutes. Nothing said he was going to do it.

John Falk -farmer in the town of Trenton. My biggest question – how can people be on the side of Friends of Trenton.  Nobody has said 10,000 cows.  Now there are 6 farms – not 50.  There’s less farms but the same number of animals.

The days of a 40-cow farm are going by the wayside. Where are you supposed to get your food from. Everything comes from a farm. Everyone is concerned about CAFO farms. We have some of the strictest regulations.  If everyone is going to complain about the farmers, don’t eat.

We don’t have the room for 10,000 cows. A person from Friend of Trenton mentioned the Chinese were coming.

None of this information with Friends of Trenton is true. All the information is public. We are not trying to hide the info.

Diane Mayer – town of Trenton resident – When the first letter came out – saying 10,000 cows we said ‘holy shit.’  I like to research. We were lied to. Perhaps this is why those on the town board don’t give an answer – is because they research.  The Rodens are very transparent. That farm has been there for a long time.  We are down to six farms, and I don’t see a swell of people coming to open CAFOs.  The latest letter is – they don’t give the real facts. People, do your research. Farmers regulate animals – they know their animals. Stop giving the ecocide fear.

The blue baby syndrome is all fear. Stop trying to scare people. Do the research, talk to the Rodens. Visit them. We are not going to get a lawyer. When a farm is there for over 100 years and housing comes in – if you have a fear of e-coli – get a reverse osmosis system.  Just do a little research and stop throwing these farmers under the bus.

Mike Lipscomb spoke as a citizen. He encouraged residents to stop on April 23 at the town hall to meet with Rep. Rick Gundrum is meeting on April 23. No. 2 – the calls for water and air… you received this survey – it is not a town survey. This is another tactic to throw it in front of us. I know what the town wants, I’ve listened.  The intentions are good but it is not town related.

Joy Schroeder – I do have fears and feel informed by Friends of Trenton and this could impact our community and our water. I’m afraid of air pollution and damage to our roads and afraid this is a trend that will continue unless there’s some alternative. Don’t believe animals should be kept indoors. I want someone to write a law about spreading sludge stuff. We have started to have our water tested. It’s not fair to have farming that affects the environment and humans. The least we can do is pass these resolutions. Why do humans continue to have laws that favor the profit over humans. The way dairy farming has become … that’s totally too unnatural.

Doug Hein – lives in Whispering Pines. Worked in agriculture for 35 years. We have a unique situation. I know a lot of the farmers and am familiar with what is going on and how they run their operations. We are very fortunate in Trenton with the quality of the farms we have and quality of the operators. When I first saw signs go up – I was taken aback by the picture on the sign – it was designed to spread fear or panic. John Falk mentioned the same number of cows now as 30 – 40 years ago. The housing has changed and it’s much better than what it used to be on the small farms.  If you look at aerial maps – it was little woodland, but it was pasture. The cows were in the creeks and waterways and the Milwaukee River was a cesspool.  The state put forth plans for barnyard systems and manure pits. During winter the farmers would take manure up and pile it up out behind the barn and that ran into creeks and rivers. The systems being used today are so much better. I was in barn after barn after barn after barn – my wife could tell. I spent an hour in Bob Rodens barn with 500 to 600 head of cattle – she didn’t know I was in a barn. What he is doing is unique. It’s pretty impressive. I feel Friends of Trenton have zero credibility. I asked Rodens if the Friends of Trenton have come visit or talked to them.  They haven’t. My impression is they probably have a committee already picked out.

Rudy Vorwerk – I’m stunned once in a while with the ignorance. I know Rodens, Groths, and Falks. These are upstanding people.  I’ve been in the barns. You are making all this controversy.  I’m tired of it. Get yourself informed. You think farmers want to contaminate the wells – this is their living. They have kids and grandkids who drink the water too.

 

Barbara Davies – elected town supervisor. You elected us to represent your interests. I ask tonight for your support.

Inga Bunzel – I want to protect – no cow manure and no smell. Everything out there – no cow manure and it really bothers me. My dad and my mom – I smell it.

 

Jay Koenitzer – When I first was on plan commission – we spoke about color of out buildings. Fear brings out the worst in people. This has divided us as people. I’d like to think we have the right people in place to make decisions. There’s nothing against the farmers – we have seen residents in 2000 that had wells contaminated. As a taxpaying resident I would just like fair treatment.  I’ve seen a lot of changes in 20 years.

 

Rick Roden – dairy farmer. You are all welcome to come to farm. Show how we manage our cows. Purchased farm in 1995. Farm was Fechter before. There are currently 335 CAFO in the state and we are losing dairy farms every day. There used to be 50 in the town of Trenton, now there are 6 in Trenton. Let’s keep this America’s Dairyland. For a digester to consider a farm – minimum 2000 cows. I don’t have enough cows on my site for a digester. Anybody can come visit my farm.

Eric Weckwerth – I worked on a farm and I appreciate all you do. In society now, there is a lack of understanding. Farms can’t operate in a strong setting anymore because business wise you won’t survive.  The hardest for citizens is if you smell like manure you smell like a farm. When fields are sprayed, I don’t like it either. That said… farming practices are far better than they ever have been.  We are all citizens of the same community. I appreciate Roden saying… come to my farm. Competing interests should help move our community in the right direction.

Maureen Mingus – why not have a commission – have people with different opinions come up with a solution.

Two resolutions were put to a vote:

No. 1 – Resolution for operations – does an operational ordinance provide an open process that address community concerns. Town board authorizes a board to create a study commission for the next year.

No. 2 – Resolution to approve biodigester moratorium. Encourage town board to put together study committee. Pass a moratorium on biogas digesters.

Paper ballots were collected and have yet to be tabulated, however the clerk called the question, and a majority of those in attendance raised their hands voting ‘no’ on both resolutions. Official results were going to be tabulated this week.

Town administrator Cindy Komro indicated the town board would likely address each resolution during its May 2024 meeting.

This is a working story, and more information will be posted when details are available.

Town of Trenton, Wi – The Town of Trenton will hold its annual meeting on Tuesday, April 16, 2024. The meeting begins at 6:30 p.m.

Trenton

 

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