July 28, 2015

Environmental review ordered for Bayfield County hog farm

The state Department of Natural Resources says a proposed mega hog farm in northern Wisconsin will have to undergo an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) process, before it can move forward. The proposed Badgerwood swine operation would be located in the town of Eileen, near Ashland in Bayfield County. The $17.7 million dollar facility would house almost 19,000 pigs, 7,500 sows, and 100 boars.

Residents of the region have raised concerns about its potential impact on water quality, given its location in the Lake Superior basin and the millions of pounds of manure the farm is expected to generate each year. State Rep. Beth Meyers (D-Bayfield) says the EIS is an important step in determining what impact the farm could have on the health of residents in the area. “I just want to make sure everything goes right with this project, if it does go through,” Meyers said.

The DNR says the EIS process will provide the best way to comply with the Wisconsin Environmental Policy Act requirements, as the agency evaluates permits for the project. The agency plans to offer more details soon for how the public can help identify issues the review should cover.

Wisconsin milk production outpaces national growth

Wisconsin cows (File photo: WRN)

Wisconsin cows (File photo: WRN)

New figures from the USDA show Wisconsin’s milk production continued to grow by leaps and bounds last month. The Badger State raised its output in May by more than three times the national increase, with Wisconsin cows pumping out 2.5 billion pounds of milk. It’s a 4.4 percent increase from the same month a year ago.

The state remains second in milk production behind California, where a massive drought continues to hurt dairy producers. The Golden State made 2.9 percent less milk in May, at 3.6 billion pounds.

Wisconsin has had huge increases in milk production throughout 2015, with just over twice the national jump through the first quarter of the year.

Report critical of industrial dairies in Kewaunee County



Advocacy groups say the hazardous, uncontrolled growth of industrial dairy pollution is running rampant in Kewaunee County. That’s the finding of a new 140-page report by local, state and national organizations led by the Socially Responsible Agricultural Project, or SRAP.

SRAP teamed up with organizations Family Farm Defenders and Kewaunee CARES to research, publish and provide recommendations for the report, which cites multiple violations, hundreds of manure management failures and a host of operational problems at the 16 large industrial dairy concentrated animal feeding operations, or CAFOs.

“We came to Kewaunee County because industrial dairies are out of control and the Wisconsin DNR is out of touch,” according to SRAP Regional Coordinator Scott Dye. “The ongoing contamination of Kewaunee County’s land, water and air and people right under the nose of the state agency meant to protect them is indefensible, has created a public health emergency and requires immediate action.”

Lynn Utesch, who’s a grass-fed beef farmer in Kewaunee County, help start the community group Kewaunee CARES.

“Wisconsin DNR has failed to carry out its most basic mission: to protect the health of Wisconsinites and the Walker Administration needs to read this report, admit its shortcomings, and change policy now,” said Utesch.


Avian influenza control zone quarantines lifted

Things are returning to normal for the state’s poultry industry. The state Agriculture Department has lifted the quarantines in control zones around all five Barron County farms struck by this spring’s bird flu outbreak. “It allows all of those that are in the control zones to resume movement of product, which previously had to be done by permit only,” DATCP’s Raechelle Kline said

The farms themselves remain quarantined, until they’ve completed the cleaning and disinfection process. They will then be allowed to repopulate their flocks. There have been no new detections of Avian Influenza in Wisconsin since May 4.

State lifts bird flu quarantine in Juneau County

File photo: DACTP

File photo: DACTP

State agriculture officials have lifted a bird flu quarantine in Juneau County, which was put in place after the virus was found in a backyard flock.

The Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection says no new cases of the H5N2 avian influenza have been found in the six mile quarantine zone since the virus first turned up in mid-April. The flock was destroyed after the initial discovery.

The movement of poultry in Juneau County will remain banned until the end of the month. Similar bans remain in effect for Barron, Chippewa, and Jefferson counties, where the virus has also been found. However, officials say there are no current plans to cancel bird exhibits at local, county, and state fairs later this summer.