The following is an excellent article from the January 1-15, 2015 issue of The Progressive Populist written by Jim Goodman on page 14 titled “Citizens Shouldn’t have to Force Government to Enforce Law” and I quote:
“Citizens Shouldn’t Have to Force Government to Enforce Law”
By JIM GOODMAN
This is a story from Wisconsin, but similar stories are playing out every day all over the US. Stories about big dairy farms, hog farms, poultry farms.
Kewaunee County, near Green Bay, Wis., has 14 permitted CAFO’s (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations of 1,000 animal units, about 700 dairy cows) giving it one of the highest livestock densities in the state. Wisconsin has over 220 dairy CAFOs and, according to the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR), there are currently about 30 more permit applications pending. Clearly, the move to fewer and bigger livestock operations is a growing trend.
With more cows comes more manure and when concentrated in a smaller area the possibility of ground and surface water pollution becomes a very real threat. With 30% of the private wells tested in Kewaunee County and 50% of the wells in the county’s Lincoln Township contaminated with E. coli and other contaminants it would appear that the threat is now a reality.
In March of 2012, Kinnard Farms, Lincoln Township, applied to the DNR for a re-issuance of its WPDES (Wisconsin Pollutant Discharge Elimination System) permit and proposed to construct new facilities more than doubling its herd size to 6,200 cattle. This number of cattle would produce over 70 million gallons of manure per year without, according to Kinnard Farms, any pollution of ground or surface water. The permit was granted, despite the fact that Kinnard Farms had a history of permit violations, (three notices of noncompliance, for land spreading violations, as well as the 2010 notice of violation for its manure lagoon overflowing).
The DNR is supposed to prevent ground and surface water contamination. They didn’t. A group of residents of Lincoln Township, who are now unable to use water from their wells saw legal action against the DNR as their only recourse. In October 2012 neighbors of Kinnard Farms filed a petition requesting the DNR to review the permit, challenging the DNR’s issuance of a permit before the expansion plans were completed, noting that there was no limit placed on the number of cows at the dairy and no provision stipulating a requirement for ground water monitoring wells. The permit as issued, could not assure that manure storage facilities and land spreading would not result in runoff events that would pollute surface and ground water. The plaintiffs knew that even on a good day a permit is only as good as the legal enforcement. The petitioners were only asking that laws already on the books be enforced. Midwest Environmental Advocates attorney Sarah Williams stated that “The petitioners are not trying to get rid of of CAFOs, they’re not trying to stop this industrial dairy from expanding, what they want is a permit that protects their water and health,”.
An editorial in Hoard’s Dairyman defending the CAFOs in Kewaunee County cried foul, implying that the wells were not deep enough; “the great number of private wells in the Kewaunee area that have been there for a number of generations and are simply not deep enough to ensure high-quality water. We all share responsibility to ensure our own water quality as neighbors. That includes having wells that are up to standard.” Even though the wells had always been up to standard, once the manure started flowing things changed; now the residents were at fault, not the expanding farm, nor the DNR in their failure to enforce their own regulations. However, in his October 2014 decision, Judge Jefferey Boldt apparently didn’t agree; he ordered Kinnard Farms to begin groundwater monitoring for pollutants at the building site. He ordered monitoring to include no less than six monitoring wells, two of which must monitor off-site land spreading of manure. It was also ordered that a maximum number of animal units at the facility be noted on the permit. The DNR was ordered to modify the Kinnard Farms permit to limit discharge of manure or wastewater pollutants to navigable waters.
Government agencies should not have to be forced by citizens to enforce the law. In a state where “moving forward” means getting bigger, the environment and public health always seemed to be trumped by someone needing to increase their profits. We are told that economic survival depends on growth, no matter what business you are in.
I don’t agree. Wisconsin may be open for business, but then, growing business and taking profit at the cost of the public is clearly not the essence of a “healthy, sustainable environment.” There is something seriously wrong with society if profit for a few is put ahead of public health. And when the government refuses to enforce laws protecting the public, then there is something seriously wrong with the government.
Jim Goodman is a dairy farmer from Wonewoc, Wis., a board member of Family Farm Defenders and a Food and Society Policy Fellow of the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy.
From The Progressive Populist, January 1-15, 2015“
(SINCE I LIVE IN WISCONSIN AND MADE MY MONEY RUNNING A SMALL FAMILY-RUN DAIRY FARM AND WAS SUCCESSFUL AT IT, I KNOW JUST EXACTLY WHAT THE AUTHOR OF THIS ARTICLE IS TALKING ABOUT–THE GROWING NUMBER OF BIG CORPORATE FARMS. A FRIEND OF MINE, WHO WAS ALSO MAKING MONEY AT THE TIME, WHO TOOK OVER THE FARM FROM HIS FAMILY, WAS MAKING MONEY AND PAYING INCOME TAX, UNTIL HE GOT TALKED INTO CREATING A BIGGER DAIRY OPERATION THAT WENT FROM 80 COWS TO 800 COWS. WHILE HE SAID, HIMSELF, HIS PROBLEM IS GETTING ALL THE MANURE OUT WITHOUT CREATING POLLUTION BECAUSE THERE ARE BIGGER FARMS THAN WHAT HE EVEN HAS. HE TOLD ME THAT WHEN HE WAS MILKING 80 COWS HE WAS MAKING MONEY AND PAYING INCOME TAX BUT IN MILKING 800 COWS, HE ISN’T MAKING MONEY. I KNOW ANOTHER FARMER THAT, WHEN HE GOT BIGGER, HE DECLARED BANKRUPTCY AND THEN STARTED OUT AGAIN. SO WHILE I THINK THE QUALITY OF THE WATER IS VERY, VERY IMPORTANT, I THINK IT’S CRIMINAL THAT THE GOVERNMENT GIVES GRANTS TO BIG CORPORATIONS, INCLUDING DAIRY FARMS AND NOT TO THE SMALL FARMERS AND TELLING THEM THEY ARE COMPETING ON THE SAME LEVEL WHICH IS A LIE BECAUSE I NEVER GOT ANY MONEY FROM THE GOVERNMENT ON A GRANT FOR NO REASON, WHICH IS DONE FOR OIL COMPANIES AND MANY OTHER BIG CORPORATIONS, EVEN IF THEY DIDN’T PAY ANY INCOME TAX, EVEN BIG INVESTMENT BANKS BECAUSE THEY SAY THEY ARE “TOO BIG TO FAIL.” COMMUNISM COULD USE THE SAME EXCUSE. AND WHERE DOES THAT LEAVE OUR DEMOCRATIC SYSTEM AND FREE ENTERPRISE THEN? WHICH THE CANDIDATES RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT MUST TALK ABOUT BECAUSE OF OUR GROWING U.S. DEBT. THE NEXT ARTICLE FROM THIS ISSUE IS TITLED “12 STEPS FORWARD FOR AMERICA” BY SEN BERNIE SANDERS.
LaVern Isely, Overtaxed Independent Middle Class Taxpayer and Public Citizen and AARP Members