MILWAUKEE (AP) -- The Wisconsin Supreme Court is scheduled to rule Wednesday in a case in which a small town with three times as many cows as people is seeking greater authority to protect its water supply.
Communities throughout the rural Midwest have been keeping an eye on the lawsuit as they struggle to deal with the expansion of so-called factory farms. States throughout the farm belt have seen big farms get bigger as the agriculture industry continues to consolidate.
The Wisconsin lawsuit was filed by Magnolia, a town of 1,000 residents seeking to force a big livestock farm to meet tougher water quality standards than the state requires. Similar cases have been filed in six other Midwestern states, but this is believed to be the first to reach a state supreme court.
The lawsuit revolves around a 2004 state law establishing standards that local governments must follow when they grant permits for new and expanding livestock operations. The intent was to make farm regulations consistent across the state.