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Farm runoff standards are set to be tightened in Wisconsin, so state officials want to hear from the public about the proposed changes.

The Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection will hold four public hearings in January on the changes to the rule known as ATCP 50, with the changes precipitated by changes to the USDA's nutrient management standard.

The hearings are Jan. 9 in Eau Claire, Jan. 19 in Platteville, Jan. 23 in Appleton and Jan. 26 in Madison.

"The proposed changes include new restrictions aimed at keeping manure and other nutrients away from direct conduits to groundwater, while allowing farmers to choose conservation practices that are appropriate for their operations, and still protect resources," DATCP said in a news release on Wednesday.

Because of the anticipated extra time or acreage farmers might need to spread manure under the new restrictions, farmers would get paid more to develop their nutrient management plans.

Each site will have two hearings, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

The Eau Claire hearings are at the Chippewa Valley Technical College's Business Education Center; the Platteville hearings are at UW-Platteville's Markee Pioneer Student Center; the Appleton hearings are at Fox Valley Technical College and the Madison hearings at the State Agriculture Building.

Comments will also be accepted until Feb. 9 by mail, email or online. Mail comments to DATCP c/o Sue Porter, PO Box 8911, Madison WI 53708-8911; email to sue.porter@wi.gov or online.

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Bill Novak is a general assignment reporter for the Wisconsin State Journal.