The issue of possible dairy farm expansion and environmental concerns took center stage in Kewaunee County, during a public hearing Tuesday morning where the DNR took testimony on permits for five large operations.
Ahead of that hearing, one of the farmers up for renewal hosted reporters at his farm near Casco. During the news conference, Lee Kinnard told about 75 members of the local farming community, the dairy industry is vital to the area. “Agriculture and a strong community and the environment are not at all at odds,” Kinnard said.
Kinnard Farms is home to about 10,000 dairy animals.
As a concentrated animal feeding operation, or CAFO, the farm needs a Department of Natural Resources permit every five years. As part of that process, Kinnard is asking to possibly expand to potentially house 12,800 animals.
Kinnard Farms is one of five CAFO farms looking to either renew its permit, expand its herd, or establish itself as a new farm.
The DNR’s public hearing drew about 100 people. Many on hand wanted to talk about the environment, spreading cow manure and possible groundwater contamination. “It’s our water. We share this resource,” said Susan Marks of Sturgeon Bay. “It’s not just about business expansion, it’s about survival here for everybody.”
“Adding that many cows would just add a load of manure that our land is not capable of handling,” said John Beck of Sturgeon Bay.
But there was also some support. “To say no, and to stop these dairies from doing their business and bringing their money to the community, it’s a shame,” said Nathan Nysse, an agronomist.
The DNR will take written comments for another week. A decision is expected by the end of the year.