General permit system for Wis. CAFOs gets OK at hearing

No opposition to speeding up DNR permit process for CAFOs...

This story details the current move by the Wisconsin DNR to streamline the permit process for CAFOs and the reasons behind this move.

By Sara Bredesen
Regional Editor - Country Today

WAUSAU - Opposition was absent at the first of five hearings on the Department of Natural Resources' proposed general permits for concentrated animal feeding operations under the state's point source pollution program.

Twenty-five people attended the hearing March 26 at Northcentral Technical College in Wausau and seven made comments. All speakers were in favor of the general permitting system. Few changes were suggested.

...some farmers complained that they missed out on lower building material prices because they were held up in the permitting process. A general permit would help move the process along.

...environmental groups would do well to focus on getting more farms into CAFO permits.

Read more at The Country Today.

Ethics of Factory Farms

Purposeful Dairy Practices Draw Public Criticism

By Katerina Athanasiou

From Food, Inc. to Michael Pollan’s novels, in recent years, the public at large has criticized agriculture. Often, the public portrays farmers as villains. Busy farmers frequently remain unheard in the media. Recently, ABC ran a special with the headline, “Got Milk? Got Ethics? Animal Rights v. U.S. Dairy Industry.”

...Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO) are farms that raise animals in confined area while adhering to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) criteria. Consequently, they carry a negative connotation.

Read more at The Cornell Daily Sun.

CAFOs = Dangerous, Excess Manure Problem

The following is a Washington Post story that ran in the Sunday edition of the St. Paul Pioneer Press on 3/28/2010. It provides an excellent overview of a major problem with CAFO and a serious health risk to those living near CAFOs. The store also discussed the impact of politics on the control...or lack of control...of CAFO operational control.

By David A. Fahrenthold
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, March 1, 2010

Nearly 40 years after the first Earth Day, this is irony: The United States has reduced the man-made pollutants that left its waterways dead, discolored and occasionally flammable.

Animal manure, a byproduct as old as agriculture, has become an unlikely modern pollution problem, scientists and environmentalists say. The country simply has more dung than it can handle: Crowded together at a new breed of mega farms, livestock produce three times as much waste as people, more than can be recycled as fertilizer for nearby fields.

That excess manure gives off air pollutants, and it is the country's fastest-growing large source of methane, a greenhouse gas.

And it washes down with the rain, helping to cause the 230 oxygen-deprived "dead zones" that have proliferated along the U.S. coast. In the Chesapeake Bay, about one-fourth of the pollution that leads to dead zones can be traced to the back ends of cows, pigs, chickens and turkeys.

Despite its impact, manure has not been as strictly regulated as more familiar pollution problems, like human sewage, acid rain or industrial waste. The Obama administration has made moves to change that but already has found itself facing off with farm interests, entangled in the contentious politics of poop.

Read more @ Washington Post.


Help Links To Wis DNR Wastewater Permit Process

Below are some links to Wisconsin DNR sites with info on CAFO wasterwater permit hearing and the permit approval process:

WPDES Permits on Public Notice

An Overview of the WPDES Wastewater Permit Process

Wisconsin's Largest Farms and Manure Management

Agricultural Runoff Management Staff and Partners

Book Review: Animal Factory by David Kirby

Animal Factory is a new book by David Kirby that looks like it would be helpful reading for those trying to understand CAFO's and the political power struggle surrounding them. Below are a couple reviews of the book. I haven't read it and, in fact, just learned about it. There are a number of copies available through the MORE library system, for you library card holders in Western Wisconsin.

Here's a link to the MORE page:

"Swine flu. Bird flu. Unusual concentrations of cancer and other diseases. Massive fish kills from flesh-eating parasites. Recalls of meats, vegetables, and fruits because of deadly E-coli bacterial contamination. Recent public health crises raise urgent questions about how our animal-derived food is raised and brought to market.

In Animal Factory, bestselling investigative journalist David Kirby exposes the powerful business and political interests behind large-scale factory farms, and tracks the far-reaching fallout that contaminates our air, land, water, and food. In this thoroughly-researched book, Kirby follows three families and communities whose lives are utterly changed by immense neighboring animal farms. These farms (known as Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations, or CAFOs), confine thousands of pigs, dairy cattle, and poultry in small spaces, often under horrifying conditions, and generate enormous volumes of fecal and biological waste as well as other toxins. Weaving science, politics, law, big business, and everyday life, Kirby accompanies these families in their struggles against animal factories. A North Carolina fisherman takes on pig farms upstream to preserve his river, his familys life, and his home.

A mother in a small Illinois town pushes back against an out-sized dairy farm and its devastating impact. And, a Washington state grandmother becomes an unlikely activist when her home is covered with soot and her water supply is compromised by runoff from leaking lagoons of cattle waste. Animal Factory is an important book about our American food system gone terribly wrong and the people who are fighting to restore sustainable farming practices and save our limited natural resources..."

Here' a link to another review from the Foodservice Educators Learning Community Blog.



Discussing the creation of Wisconsin Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permits for dairy farms/animal feeding operations...

"March 26, April 1, 6, 8 & 13 - Pursuant to § 283.49, Wis. Stats., the Department of Natural Resources will hold public hearings on a proposal to issue two Wisconsin Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (WPDES) general permits for Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO). § 283.35, Wis. Stats., authorizes the Department of Natural Resources to issue general discharge permits for categories of point source dischargers.

Large Dairy Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (WI-0063274-01). The permit covers the handling and land application of manure and process wastewater at new, existing or expanding dairy animal feeding operations with at least 1,000 animal units but no more than 5720 animal units. This is a first time issuance for this general permit..."

Dates of hearings:

March 26, Wausau - North Central Technical College, Center for the Health Sciences Building Auditorium, 1000 West Campus Drive.

April 1, Grand Chute - Grand Chute Town Hall, Board Room, 1900 Grand Chute Blvd.

April 6, Viroqua - Firehouse Restaurant and Lounge, Lower Level, 804 South Main St.

April 8, Eau Claire - Ramada Inn Convention Center, Lower Ballroom, 205 South Barstow St.

April 13, Fitchburg - Fitchburg Community Center, Oak Hall, 5520 Lacy Road.
Where: Fitchburg Community Center 5510 Lacy Rd. , Fitchburg

Read more @ Isthmus/Daily Page


Wisconsin Groundwater Protection Bill Being Debate

Below is an excerpt from an editorial appear in the 3/17/10 edition of the The Country Today weekly newspaper out of Eau Claire. It has information on a groundwater protection bill being considered in Madison.

"A groundwater protection bill introduced last week by state Sen. Mark Miller, D-Monona, and state Rep. Spencer Black, D-Madison, on the surface appears to be a no-brainer, if you believe everything in the news releases from environmental groups touting the legislation.

The bill, according to the Wisconsin Waters Coalition, would "provide the means to ensure a responsible, balanced use of our groundwater supplies." Who could argue with the need to do that?

Building off the Groundwater Protection Act of 2004, the legislation would close gaps in current law that allow "excessive pumping" by large irrigation and municipal wells, according to the environmental group Clean Wisconsin. The bill would authorize state government to identify groundwater management areas in locales with severely drawn-down aquifers, and local councils would be appointed to come up with ways to preserve a plentiful water supply..."

Read more of this opinion piece at The Country Today newspaper.

For more stories on the legislation, click here.

Drink Water From Cow Manure?

Here's an interesting article about a St. Croix County CAFO owner working on the development of a way to deal with waste water from his dairy operation...

John Vrieze owns the Emerald Dairy in Wisconsin.He has 1,600 cows that make milk, but he is turning something else into water. Cow manure.
The farmer got tired of spending thousands of dollars a year hauling manure out to holding ponds.
He decided to search for another way and discovered the 'Nu Way' system.
It mechanically breaks down cow manure into reusable elements.
One by-product is distilled water..
The farmer says the water is clean and safe to return to the watershed. He says he and his cows actually drink it.

Here's link to the article on this story.Check out the comments at the bottom of the story. "Country Girl" lives near this operation and her water has e-collie contamination.

WKRG.com News