Sunday, February 22, 2015

Walker's Shit Storm of Outrage

From Manitowoc HTR

Over the last couple of months Gannett Media has surprisingly run a series of articles and op ed pieces that have accurately detailed the impacts of giant ag (known as CAFOs - Concentrated Animal Feedlot Operations) with a special Focus on Kewaunee County just to our north.  

Together with other article they document a Shit Storm of Outrageous actions that will affect the well being of the State for decades to come.

Another article details the finds of the Wisconsin Environment Research & Policy Center  which published the following findings.

In Wisconsin, dairy concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) hold 434,547 animal units — equal to 303,879 cows, assuming they are all milking and dry cows —and can produce more untreated waste than 69 million people. That's more than 12 times the population of Wisconsin.
As of 2010, pollution from livestock operations of all sizes has left more than 4,000 acres of lakes and 377 miles of rivers and creeks too polluted to sustain their designated uses of swimming, fishing, or providing a healthy habitat for aquatic plants and animals in Wisconsin.
Over time, the DNR has issued fewer citations to factory farms, despite rapid growth in the number of operations. In 2012, the DNR issued just three violation notices for animal waste from CAFOs — down from 13 in 2011 and 15 in 2010. The agency has also never turned down a permit request.
In the past five years, agribusinesses and agribusiness-related organizations (such as the Dairy Business Association) spent more than $4.4 million lobbying the state government in Wisconsin. Many state regulators responsible for enforcing rules on factory farms are former agribusiness lobbyists.

I have spoken out before about farm related issues.  The crisis in farm and other land related policies has now reached epic proportions.  Its time to begin to hold the pols accountable.

I would like to commend Gannett for an excellent series of reports and commentary regarding the environmental debacle in Kewaunee County. In the 1980s I was the first farmer to participate in the Wisconsin Fund to implement manure runoff control in the Manitowoc River watershed. At that time I had 65 cows, which by today's standards is hardly a farm at all. What was then a common ethic of stewardship among farmers has now degraded to a moral outrage.
Our politics have betrayed us. We have bought wholesale into the notion that we are somehow better off by allowing the monied interests to decide what is best for us and that prosperity is gained from simply turning them loose. Nowhere is that more evident than in Kewaunee, where there is overwhelming support for ultra-conservative politicians Andre Jaques and Frank Lasee, who then return the favor by giving these operations a pass over the obvious interests of their constituents.
As that crew attempts to patch Walker's broken budget, the victims in Kewaunee will find much company in their misery. Regionally, six warden positions out of the Green Bay office have been left unfilled, resulting in a 70 percent decrease in tickets issued. Eighteen more in DNR's science bureau are to be cut, representing 31 percent of their personnel. With hamstrung science and crippled enforcement the entire state will soon join them.
Republicans are responsible for attempting to remove over 14,000 acres from the public domain, a prime goal of the Dairy Business Association, whose members include the very Kewaunee farms that are destroying the water there. Some of that public land and water includes the Besadney nature preserve and fish station that supply much of the salmon eggs that support the Lake Michigan sport fishing industry. One of the largest farms there virtually surrounds it.
Unless we begin to connect the very real dots between our collective loyalty to these politicians, the situation will continue to decay. They are the tributaries to this river of filth which now threatens to inundate the entire state.
Note: Jaques and Lasee are not the only villains nor is it a problem unique to Republicans.  In the 2012 primary the DBA endorsed only 3 candidates and TWO of them were Democrats.  One of them, Jim Brey is well known to the lakeshore area. 
Brey is also notorious for opposing the Clean Water Act because of run off mandates imposed upon cities.

In that same race I was proud to have received the endorsement of the Sierra Club and two other conservation groups, Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters and Clean Wisconsin.

Since I wrote this more has come out.  According to the Sierra Club Walker's budget now is attacking current meager funding of  the Soil Conservation Service to develop soil "nutrient plans".

Water safety is also impacted by the Governor’s budget.  It eliminates the Fertilizer Research Council and funding for its innovative manure management studies, it reduces funding to county Soil and Water Conservation Departments who work with farmers to reduce runoff pollution by $800,000 and it reduces funds for nutrient management plans by $500,000.  These cuts increase threats from water pollution caused by factory farms.  Thankfully, it also contains some good water policies, including maintaining bonding for the Urban Nonpoint Source, Targeted Management Runoff, Contaminated Sediment Removal, and Dam Safety programs, and a proposal to continue collecting ballast water fees needed to control aquatic invasive species.  

Read the full story here: 

Did we really deserve this?  Is this really what voters intended?  I have one word for that.


People are fighting back, however.  Up in Bayfield County a moratorium on new CAFO facilities has been enacted by their supervisors.

The Bayfield County Board of Supervisors voted to adopt a one-year moratorium on livestock facilities licensing in Bayfield County on Wednesday evening.The one-year moratorium will apply to all facilities over 1,000 animal units and last for 12 months, unless the facility has established vested rights


Other related articles.


  1. I live in Kewaunee county and am curious about your reference to the fish hatchery. The land around this facility is primarily operated by Pagel's ponderosa, the owner of which is a county board supervisor and chairman of our county Land and Water Conservation Department. I am trying to connect your dots. Maybe you are referring to manure runoff issues and the water quality of the Kewaunee River?

  2. Yes, Ponderosa is the one I was referring to and yes it was mostly a reference to a potential spill.
    However, the DBA is also a strong advocate for selling off the public lands which is what the Scarboro nature preserve is. It is largely composed of former crop land and with the current spike in crop land prices it is exactly the sort of property the DBA has in mind to make available to its members.

    FYI The Besadny fish station and ladder is not a hatchery. It is an egg collection station. The fry are hatched someplace else. But a manure spill there during the run for any of the species could destroy an entire season's generation there. And, the run seasons closely correspond to prime manure spreading for corn land.

  3. Here is a blog posting I did last winter on this subject. Thought you would find the current spreading fields interesting.