The Small-Town Beekeeper Facing Down Big Ag

A conversation with rural Wisconsin beekeeper Kristy Lynn Allen.

Maximillian Alvarez

A beekeeper inspects a bee covered wooden frame that stores the honeycomb inside his hives as he checks honey production on August 7, 2015 in Skelton, England. Photo by Ian Forsyth/Getty Images

A proposed concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO) in Burnett County, Wisconsin, is slated to house 26,000 hogs and produce millions of gallons of liquid manure every year. Residents fear the irreparable damage a facility of that size could do to their air, land, and waterways, as well as to their property values and the local economy, and many fear there’s nothing they can do to stop it. But a diverse coalition of farmers, community members, and environmental advocates is fighting back to protect their homes, their ways of life, and what remains of the independent farming economy. As part of a special collaboration between The Real News Network and In These Times magazine for The Wisconsin Idea,” Max, Cameron Granadino (TRNN), and Hannah Faris (In These Times) travelled to Burnett County over the summer to speak with residents about their concerns and about their struggles against Big Agriculture and the factory farming industry. In this interview, Max talks with local farmer and beekeeper Kristy Lynn Allen about the damage the industrialization of farming has done to agriculture in general, and about the damage the new CAFO would do specifically to farmers like her. Allen is the founder of The Beez Kneez, LLC, and serves as president of the local chapter of the Wisconsin Farmers Union.

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Maximillian Alvarez is editor-in-chief at the Real News Network and host of the podcast Working People, available at InThe​se​Times​.com. He is also the author of The Work of Living: Working People Talk About Their Lives and the Year the World Broke.

Democratic Rep. Summer Lee, who at the time was a candidate for the state House, at a demonstration in Pittsburgh for Antwon Rose, who was killed by police, in 2018. Lee recently defeated her 2024 primary challenger.
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