Magnolia is about 30 miles south of Madison. The city granted Larson Acres a permit in 2007 when it wanted to expand, but included a number of conditions because residents blamed it for polluting their water supply. The farm initially had 1,000 cows and now has about 2,900.
Among the conditions, the farm had to allow the town to conduct monthly water quality tests on its land, and it had to follow certain crop-rotation strategies to reduce nitrate buildup. The farm sued, arguing that pollution-control measures are laid out by the state and can’t be modified by individual towns.
The state Supreme Court agreed, ruling that the town exceeded its authority by imposing additional measures. Similar cases have been filed in six other Midwestern states, including Minnesota, but Wisconsin’s is believed to be the first to reach a state supreme court.