Skip to main content

I attended the 3 December, 2009 "Hearing" on the State of Wisconsin’s largest Dairy farm to date! For those who couldn’t attend, here’s what I saw. Look:

First, the DNR spokesperson stated the sole purpose of the hearing was to hear only comments germane to the modification of three issues: 1) whether the producer could double his current herd to 11,500 Animal Units, 2) an amendment in the Nutrient Management Plan that allows increases in liquid manure to be land-spreading over 12,000 acres with reduced State monitoring requirements, and 3) a reduced compliance schedule for evaluating processed wastewater and storm water discharges at the producer/owner’s request. (That’s right twice as many cows but a reduction in testing, say what!)

The DNR kindly allowed the producer to make introductory remarks that had nothing to do with any of the three issues. The owner said he and his two co-owners had been milking cows "before learning to ride a bike" and that he felt a commitment to the community, employees and "my people." He gave a commercial for a new brand of "miracle grow" they’re experimenting with—a clear, blue-juice produced from the 92 million gallons per year of liquid manure at their industrial Dairy. He actually held up the manure in what appeared to be a one-liter flat-bottomed boiling flask, and two similar flasks with chemical corn-fertilizer and manure and lastly the clear blue "miracle grow" solution.
He said, "this is what it’s all about. We want to be a good neighbor." There for a second I thought he was going to drink the kool-aid looking concoction. But instead, he smiled like a cat and said something about the decline in farming and the increased world population and that someone had to "feed the world." For a minute I felt like I was at an old time medicine road show. Because anytime I hear someone tell me they are going to "feed the world" I think about Gene Logsdon’s essay that states,

"Today "feed the world" is the forked-tongue hypocrisy that mega-companies utter while they try to monopolize the food business. No country, no company, no government can feed the world, especially when the cost of the food is greater than the people who need feeding can afford. Food is a much more complex thing than the "feed the world" enthusiasts want to understand. ..1) much of the world lives quite well without corn and soybeans or animal products fed with corn and soybeans. 2 Millions of people eat foods Americans have never heard of. The Mongolians thrive on horse milk...Feeding the world is not the problem. Teaching people how to feed themselves is the problem. But agribusiness doesn’t want people to know how to feed themselves.

But, strangely, no one got up to tar and feather this charlatan. It was a very polite audience, mostly filled with people pandering to the owners of CAFO-Rosendale for their business because they were either vendors or employees. Those in support mostly said these were nice guys who should be given a chance to work their magic or do whatever they wanted to do.

None of these supporters dealt with the directions to speak solely to the three issues of the hearing; I wanted to yell "Point of Order" but also to watch this circus as it unfolded under the auspices of "a Hearing" by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

Those who spoke for allowing the permit mostly wore bright, blue shirts and hats handed out by CAFO-RD that read "Rosendale Dairy = Jobs matter." These were either vendors or employees of the CAFO from the Owners to the Public Relations person of the Dairy Business Association, a powerful lobbying group. It was obvious these people were not thinking about the long term consequence of allowing this industry to operate in this neighborhood; they just work for these operators. Not one of them lived anywhere near this industrial site.

In all, there were 59 speakers. Most of those who ask for the permit to be "Denied" were friends of the environment, defenders of family farms, neighbors of the CAFO and those seeking to slow this train wreck of a natural disaster down. "What's the hurry?" was a common refrain. People from other county stewardship concerns; chemistry and environment teachers, small farm agrarians, county ag agents, Sierra Club and Clean Wisconsin spokespeople and a State Legislator made salient points. All concerned and well informed citizens pleaded for reasonable consideration on behalf of the neighbors, the quality of rural life in Wisconsin, the lack of enforcement displayed to -date by the DNR and suchlike.

There were tears shed, too. Neighbors talked about a loss of freedom to open their windows on summer nights. Neighbors talked about being denied access to safely walking country roads because of the stench of the 4,000 animals there now and the increase of 13,000 (not an exaggeration!) trucks annually, carrying everything from manure to sileage over narrow county roads. (And that number will double with the expansion of this CAFO.) They spoke of the dust created by the traffic. And, of course, the toxic smell of ammonia.

The decision is just around the corner. The DNR has the responsibility to Grant/or deny the five-year permit within a limited time of its filing.
I’m willing to bet the permit comes through within the next month. Any takers on this one?

Originally posted to harvstpt on Fri Dec 18, 2009 at 10:51 AM PST.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  Sadly, you are probably right (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    historys mysteries, sandblaster

    n/t

    Repubs - the people in power are not secretly plotting against you. They don't need to. They already beat you in public. (Bill Maher)

    by Sychotic1 on Fri Dec 18, 2009 at 10:54:01 AM PST

  •  Wow, sorry to hear it. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Creosote, fiddlingnero, harvstpt

    i live about 1 hr from the nearest dairy farm but have ridden thru it, whew. I feel for you and your neighbors. Thanks for the diary.

    With no definite future & no purpose other then to prevail somehow - The Mermen

    by blueoregon on Fri Dec 18, 2009 at 11:00:58 AM PST

  •  Competition is your friend. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    arlene, fiddlingnero

    Snowville Creamery can't stop this diary, but it can sell you dairy products from actual, omg, pastured cows.

    You don't need to buy milk from CAFOs.  If you want better milk, click the link.

    Show me the POLICY!

    by Fabian on Fri Dec 18, 2009 at 11:05:50 AM PST

    •  It's not one or the other (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Fabian, fiddlingnero, nchristine

      If you're a dairy, you have to have a CAFO license.  Period.  Even if you keep your animals on pasture all the time.  Not all CAFO licenses cover feedlot operations.  They also cover confined animals of any kind.

      And dairies always qualify.  This is because the animals are confined for a limited time each day, and the rules mean that a portion of a day counts as a whole day.  So it doesn't matter if they spend 23 hours a day on pasture, and 1 hour milking.  According to the law, this is no different than them being confined all day long.  And if you confine your animals for more than a certain number of days per year, well you have to get a CAFO license.

      I know, I own a sheep dairy.  They are on pasture all the time, except when being milked, and I have fewer than 100 head altogether, but I still have a CAFO license.

      And good thing too, because the government makes sure I collect any manure that falls on concrete and store and dispose of it properly.  Even if it is only a small amount.  They make sure I only spread it on fields that need it, and that I don't spread it near waterways.  I even had to build a lagoon to store all the rain water that falls in the barnyard (which here in Oregon is a considerable amount), just because of the small amount of sheep urine that may collect there.

      Unlike the salt-of-the-earth farmer who had the farm before me, who also kept sheep, but didn't dairy.  He just let the urine collect and drain anywhere, and piled all the barn scrapings out into a field that had a watercourse running through it.

      So understand the term before you use it.  I think what you meant to say, instead of CAFO, is 'feedlot operation'.

      •  Oops. My bad. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        fiddlingnero

        I didn't realize that dairies always qualify as CAFOs.

        Still, it's unusual to have pastured dairy cows.  That's a shame.  I was trying to figure out why it's so hard to get quality cheese in the states.  I can get some great cheese out of Europe, many great cheeses in fact.  We have plenty of dairies here.  We produce a lot of cheese domestically, so why is it of such mediocre quality?

        The answer is what the animals eat.  The best cheeses don't come from feedlot, grain fed animals.  The best cheese comes from pastured animals.  That's why it is more expensive.  You can't put animals on pasture year round and animals that are on pasture produce less milk than confined animals.  Ye olde input/output ratio.  It measures almost exclusively quantity, not quality.

        Milk and cheese that comes from feedlot operations tends to taste bland.  It lacks depth and complexity.  I eat cheese the same way I drink beer - quality over quantity.  If it doesn't taste great, I'll spend my money on other things.

        Show me the POLICY!

        by Fabian on Fri Dec 18, 2009 at 02:15:16 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Competition is your friend (0+ / 0-)

      I can't disagree with you on this. I only hope there is competition in place after our DATCP and WDNR comes to the realization that they aren't really "helping" anyone with their favoritism toward Dairy farms of over 750 animals. But I guess this is what the Dairy Business Association wants because their members turn out in full force for these hearings. Lastly, how do you think Option 2 will play out for you in Ohio? Thanks for the message.

  •  My family (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    PeterHug, Dar Nirron

    has a dairy herd in Wisconsin that's under 50 cows.  I can't even imagine what being anywhere near  thousands would be like except for completely unbearable.  Big agribusiness sucks.  I'll keep my fingers crossed that this schmuck doesn't get his permit.  

  •  I just moved to WI a couple of weeks ago (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sara R, arlene, Bush Bites

    How awful this sounds! I'd love to get involved in agri-activism in this state, as I'm a huge advocate of family farms and sustainable practices.

    Thanks for this diary.

    GOP Talking Points Hotline: 1-800-WHINE

    by Auntie Neo Kawn on Fri Dec 18, 2009 at 11:28:02 AM PST

  •  What Happened to the DNR? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    palantir, harvstpt

    They used to care about protecting the environment and game management.  I grew up on a farm.  Cows, like cats and dogs, have their own personalities.  It seems inhumane to me to keep them constantly in a stall with no exercise or outdoor time.

    Don't look back, something may be gaining on you. - L. "Satchel" Paige

    by arlene on Fri Dec 18, 2009 at 11:44:17 AM PST

  •  The hearing sounds nearly identical (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    the fan man, harvstpt
    to last September's Public Service Commission hearings on Alliant Energy's so-called "hynrid" coal power plant, capable of buring "up to 20% biomass". I attended the hearing in Portage, where I saw the traveling road-show of regulars hired from a cross-section of coal-friendly business and labor organizations to fill the audience.

    After several supporters bragged that this "up to 20%" benchmark would bring us closer to Governor Doyle's target of 40% biomass for energy production, none could answer either of my questions - whether up to 20% could possibly mean 0%, or how many 20%'s does it take to add up to 40%? Silence. Not even crickets.

    The encouraging thing is that the PSC also took public comments on-line, and the proposal was absolutely destroyed there, with well over 90% opposed. The proposal was rejected unanimously by the PSC.
    http://www.cleanwisconsin.org/...

    Is the DNR taking comments by any other means than these public hearings? That could make a difference.

    "All war is stupid" - JFK

    by jorogo on Fri Dec 18, 2009 at 11:58:56 AM PST

  •  Where? (0+ / 0-)

    The name of the company is Rosendale; I assume this is near Rosendale, Fond du Lac County?

    Good luck getting Jim Doyle's DNR to stop this. Doyle is already packing up his stuff at the executive mansion; he's the lamest of lame ducks, and frankly he hasn't been the most progressive governor we've ever had anyway.

    The Bush Family: 0 for 4 in Wisconsin

    by Korkenzieher on Fri Dec 18, 2009 at 11:59:33 AM PST

    •  Where? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Korkenzieher

      This industrial complex is in Pickett, WI, in the Town of Rosendale. To get there, go south on County M off Hwy 44. You can't miss this one. All the buildings and manure lagoons are in place. The owners built all the structures before the permits were in place to give themselves a head start in the permitting process. (They're kind of arrogant like that!)If you want to drive by it at night you can see the glow in the night sky; during the day you can't miss it either.

  •  The hearing sounds nearly identical (0+ / 0-)
    to last September's Public Service Commission hearings on Alliant Energy's so-called "hynrid" coal power plant, capable of buring "up to 20% biomass". I attended the hearing in Portage, where I saw the traveling road-show of regulars hired from a cross-section of coal-friendly business and labor organizations to fill the audience.

    After several supporters bragged that this "up to 20%" benchmark would bring us closer to Governor Doyle's target of 40% biomass for energy production, none could answer either of my questions - whether up to 20% could possibly mean 0%, or how many 20%'s does it take to add up to 40%? Silence. Not even crickets.

    The encouraging thing is that the PSC also took public comments on-line, and the proposal was absolutely destroyed there, with well over 90% opposed. The proposal was rejected unanimously by the PSC.
    http://www.cleanwisconsin.org/...

    Is the DNR taking comments by any other means than these public hearings? That could make a difference.

    "All war is stupid" - JFK

    by jorogo on Fri Dec 18, 2009 at 12:00:49 PM PST

  •  Only 11,500 animals huh? Was he applying for (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    fiddlingnero, harvstpt

    a city charter? How someone goes from working cows as a youngster to a 11000 hd operation is beyond me.

    He who distinguishes the true savor of food can never be a glutton, he who does not cannot be otherwise. - Thoreau

    by the fan man on Fri Dec 18, 2009 at 12:33:05 PM PST

    •  That issue was raised, too. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      the fan man, fiddlingnero

      More than one comment dealt with the amount of untreated sewage coming from this feedlot. This much manure is more than the City of Green Bay. One of the problems in the State of Wisconsin when the topic of untreated sewage arises is the Milwaukee Metro Sewage District. It's been dumping raw sewage into Lake Michigan for years. It's probably done more environmental harm to lakeshore property, local beaches and like that than some farm runoff. It's one of the first things I hear when I raise the issue about manure runoff. Two wrongs do not make a right; but the MMSD needs attention.

      •  When you have enough animals together, (0+ / 0-)

        ammonia emissions can create a toxic smog as you well know. Even if this guy ran a state of the art operation, sequestering all waste and converting it to energy and fertilizer, it's still too much concentration of production for the public good.

        He who distinguishes the true savor of food can never be a glutton, he who does not cannot be otherwise. - Thoreau

        by the fan man on Fri Dec 18, 2009 at 04:02:31 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site