It is a rare month that we don’t hear about another massive manure spill into our waterways, and the legal leakage of 500 gallons per acre per day from manure lagoons into the groundwater goes completely unrecorded and unreported.
Meanwhile, our Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, with its new “Chamber of Commerce” mentality, is busy permitting new operations and expansions, but is so underfunded and understaffed that, according to the state’s own evaluation, they have failed to enforce their standards 94% of the time. A CAFO in Kewaunee County was just allowed to double its herd, despite multiple rounds of testing showing over one third of wells tested to be contaminated in the county.
It is time for a sober analysis of the consequences of the wholesale industrialization of our agriculture. We need a pause in further permits and expansions until we can get a grasp on the effects we are already seeing and our state environmental enforcement agency can get its regulatory act together.
This is why Crawford Stewardship Project has joined Sustain Rural Wisconsin Network, nearly 50 other organizations, and municipalities from across the state in proposing a statewide moratorium on new and expanding Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) with over 1000 “animal units.” To learn more about the statewide moratorium effort, visit sustainruralwisconsin.org.
On the home-front, we are supporting neighbors in their struggles with several industrial agriculture projects. A CAFO in Harrison Township, Grant County, is pushing for expansion through a particularly suspicious process rife with conflicts of interest and red flags.
Just north of Viroqua, in an area riddled with sinkholes, karst towers, and springs, a large vertically integrated pork producer out of Iowa, Lynch Livestock Inc, bought out locally-owned
All this is on top of our ongoing projects reviewing the annual Nutrient Management Plans for the largest factory farms in Crawford County and coordinating volunteer water quality monitoring at sites of particular concern. Yes, we’ve been more than busy, but this is only the tip of the iceberg if we can’t get the state to renew its commitment to protecting our natural resources through adequate funding, review, and enforcement.