FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Citizens Shouldn’t Have to Force the Government to Enforce the Law

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. Stories about people whose health, homes and communities were adversely impacted by putting too many animals in too small an area.

Kewaunee County, near Green Bay Wisconsin 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 CAFO’s and according to the 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.

Of course, 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). So what was the basis for assurances that even more cows would result in less pollution?

The DNR, through its permitting process and enforcement procedures of livestock facilities, 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 for drinking, cooking or bathing, saw legal action against the DNR as their only recourse.

In October of 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 CAFO’s 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”. So apparently, 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.

Personally 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, WI.

More articles by:

Jim Goodman is a dairy farmer from Wonewoc, Wisconsin.

Weekend Edition
July 10, 2020
Friday - Sunday
Lynnette Grey Bull
Trump’s Postcard to America From the Shrine of Hypocrisy
Anthony DiMaggio
Free Speech Fantasies: the Harper’s Letter and the Myth of American Liberalism
David Yearsley
Morricone: Maestro of Music and Image
Jeffrey St. Clair
“I Could Live With That”: How the CIA Made Afghanistan Safe for the Opium Trade
Rob Urie
Democracy and the Illusion of Choice
Paul Street
Imperial Blind Spots and a Question for Obama
Vijay Prashad
The U.S. and UK are a Wrecking Ball Crew Against the Pillars of Internationalism
Melvin Goodman
The Washington Post and Its Cold War Drums
Richard C. Gross
Trump: Reopen Schools (or Else)
Chris Krupp
Public Lands Under Widespread Attack During Pandemic 
Alda Facio
What Coronavirus Teaches Us About Inequality, Discrimination and the Importance of Caring
Eve Ottenberg
Bounty Tales
Andrew Levine
Silver Linings Ahead?
John Kendall Hawkins
FrankenBob: The Self-Made Dylan
Pam Martens - Russ Martens
Deutsche Bank Fined $150 Million for Enabling Jeffrey Epstein; Where’s the Fine Against JPMorgan Chase?
David Rosen
Inequality and the End of the American Dream
Louis Proyect
Harper’s and the Great Cancel Culture Panic
Thom Hartmann
How Billionaires Get Away With Their Big Con
REZA FIYOUZAT
Your 19th COVID Breakdown
Danny Sjursen
Undercover Patriots: Trump, Tulsa, and the Rise of Military Dissent
Charles McKelvey
The Limitations of the New Antiracist Movement
Binoy Kampmark
Netanyahu’s Annexation Drive
Joseph G. Ramsey
An Empire in Points
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
COVID-19 Denialism is Rooted in the Settler Colonial Mindset
Ramzy Baroud
On Israel’s Bizarre Definitions: The West Bank is Already Annexed
Judith Deutsch
Handling Emergency: A Tale of Two Males
Michael Welton
Getting Back to Socialist Principles: Honneth’s Recipe
Dean Baker
Combating the Political Power of the Rich: Wealth Taxes and Seattle Election Vouchers
Jonah Raskin
Edward Sanders: Poetic Pacifist Up Next
Manuel García, Jr.
Carbon Dioxide Uptake by Vegetation After Emissions Shutoff “Now”
Heidi Peltier
The Camo Economy: How Military Contracting Hides Human Costs and Increases Inequality
Ron Jacobs
Strike!, Fifty Years and Counting
Ellen Taylor
The Dark Side of Science: Shooting Barred Owls as Scapegoats for the Ravages of Big Timber
Sarah Anderson
Shrink Wall Street to Guarantee Good Jobs
Graham Peebles
Prison: Therapeutic Centers Or Academies of Crime?
Zhivko Illeieff
Can We Escape Our Addiction to Social Media?
Clark T. Scott
The Democrat’s Normal Keeps Their (Supposed) Enemies Closer and Closer
Steve Early - Suzanne Gordon
In 2020 Elections: Will Real-Life “Fighting Dems” Prove Irresistible?
David Swanson
Mommy, Where Do Peace Activists Come From?
Christopher Brauchli
Trump the Orator
Gary Leupp
Columbus and the Beginning of the American Way of Life: A Message to Indoctrinate Our Children
John Stanton
Donald J. Trump, Stone Cold Racist
Nicky Reid
The Stonewall Blues (Still Dreaming of a Queer Nation)
Stephen Cooper
A Kingston Reasoning with Legendary Guitarist Earl “Chinna” Smith (The Interview: Part 2)
Hugh Iglarsh
COVID-19’s Coming to Town
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail