Issues: Media Reports

Wisconsin Watch's Failure at the Faucet Series

Failure at the Faucet is part of the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism’s ongoing Water Watch Wisconsin project, which examines state water quality and supply issues.

Six Part Series:

Safeguarding Your Drinking Water

Safe, Clean Drinking Water Eludes Many Wisconsinites

Nitrate in Water Widespread, Current Rules No Match for It

Going Organic: One Farmer’s Fight Against Contaminants in the Groundwater

Cost of Most Drinking Water Pollution Borne by Consumers

What is Nitrate?

The Superbug Threat We Need To Watch For Isn't From Our Prescription Bottles, But From Our Meat

"What you may not have heard, however, is that the majority of drugs used in the U.S. aren’t even taken by humans. Approximately 70% of medically important antibiotics are sold for use in livestock. This is a trend that started in the middle of the 20th century when farmers began putting small doses of antibiotics in the food, water and minerals of animals for growth promotion, disease prevention, and disease control. It became standard practice and seemed to make sense – keep the animals healthy, increase growth, produce more food, increase farm profits, and lower food costs for consumers. It is even attributed with tripling American meat production over the last 50 years. But the reality hasn’t been that simple. A side effect we hadn’t anticipated was antibiotic resistance, and in turn, higher health care costs."

Read the Forbes article here

Local Communities Stand Up for Local Control

"Local control is especially important for farmers and rural communities since local residents have the knowledge and understanding of the areas they live in and can therefore make decisions about what is best for the community. This is especially true when it comes to regulations, such as zoning regulations, that impact the natural resources that can make or break a community. Farmers and ranchers depend on clean and adequate water and healthy soils."

Read the article here. 

DNR to Factory Farms: How Can We Help?

"The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, charged with protecting the state’s environment, is creating a website portal to help large-scale developers and the operators of factory farms.

“The purpose of the [project] will be to assist businesses and other customers through the complicated permitting processes while recognizing internal efficiencies,” states an internal memo obtained by Isthmus through a records request. The DNR says the undated memo was produced in September."

Read the Isthmus article here

Petition to EPA: Wisconsin Fails to Comply with the Clean Water Act

"Today, on behalf of 16 Petitioners from across the state of Wisconsin, Midwest Environmental Advocates filed a Petition for Corrective Action with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to request action by both federal and state agencies to bring Wisconsin back into compliance with the Clean Water Act. Wisconsin citizens petitioning the EPA have long-standing water problems from poor implementation and enforcement of the landmark federal law."

Read the Midwest Environmental Advocates article here. 

Near Madeline Island, Fight Looms over Hog CAFO

"The vivid blue expanse of Lake Superior and the national lakeshore near Madeline Island here in northern Wisconsin have always been largely immune to environmental threats from factory farms — until now.

A proposal to build the first large-scale livestock facility in the Lake Superior watershed has triggered fierce reaction in the tiny towns along its southwest shore, where residents depend on the lake for drinking water and the annual flow of tourism dollars, a third of which comes from Minnesota."

Read the Star Tribune article here. 

DNR Environmental Arm to be Shifted to Unit Intended to Assist Businesses

"In a plan outlined to employees Tuesday afternoon, the DNR would consolidate many responsibilities for water and air pollution into a single division and streamline other areas.

Some hot-button topics would be placed in a separate unit known as "business support and external services."

Those include zoning near shorelines, dam safety, wetlands protection and runoff pollution, including runoff from farms.

In Wisconsin, shoreland zoning, runoff pollution caused by manure and fertilizers applied to crops, and development near wetlands have often been the most divisive.

These functions are housed under the DNR's water division, which is being jettisoned."

Read the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article here

As Wisconsin DNR Studies Impact of Proposed, Supersize Pig Farm, Community Divide Deepens

"For decades, Reicks View Farms has been raising lots and lots of hogs in Iowa. Reicks hopes to expand into northern Wisconsin and raise 26,000 hogs in Bayfield County.

The number of hogs qualifies the proposed farm, called Badgerwood, as a CAFO, or a confined animal feeding operation. It would be the first in the Lake Superior basin."

Listen to Milwaukee Public Radio's report here

Wisconsin DNR Plans Full Environmental Study on Huge Pig Farm

"The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources announced Tuesday that it will require a full environmental impact study of a proposal for a huge pig farm in Bayfield County.

Iowa-based Riecks View Farms, and critics of the company’s planned pig farm, welcomed the DNR’s decision to give close scrutiny to what would be the largest hog farm in Wisconsin and the first animal feeding operation of its scale in the Lake Superior basin."

Read the Wisconsin State Journal article here

Proposed Hog Megafarm Causes a Stir in Bayfield County

"An Iowa business wants to construct the first megafarm in the Lake Superior basin, with plans to produce thousands of pigs annually a few miles from Ashland and the shore of Chequamegon Bay.

But plans for the Bayfield County farm are coming under criticism from some residents who fear that millions of gallons of hog manure will eventually wash off the land and pollute the big lake.

Big dairy farms are a growing economic force — and source of controversy — in Wisconsin. Their numbers have more than quadrupled since 2000, according to Department of Natural Resources figures.

Large-scale hog farms haven't grown at the same pace."

Read the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article here. 

Bayfield Event to Address Corporate Hog Farm

"The much-debated prospect of a large-scale hog farm moving into Northwestern Wisconsin takes center stage today at the 19th annual Pie and Politics event in Bayfield.

In addition to being treated to free pie, the expected hundreds of spectators will hear from a trio of speakers warning them about the pollution risks associated with pig farming's expansion into Bayfield County.

Meanwhile, the Iowa farming corporation that's behind the effort continues to address environmental hurdles in its attempt to bring the first Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation, or CAFO, into a county known for its orchards and smaller family farms.

Earlier this spring, Reicks View Farms was asked by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to resubmit two key proposals as it worked to secure the Wisconsin Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit that would allow it to move forward."

Read the Duluth News Tribune article here

WORT Radio Interview: Pig CAFO in Bayfield

"What are the consequences of Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations in local communities? How will the proposed CAFO in Bayfield County affect Wisconsin? Are there any logical alternatives? On Tuesday, June 16, guest host Patty Peltekos, talked with Mary Dougherty about the proposed pig CAFO."

Listen to the WORT radio interview here

A Question and Answer with Reicks View Farms Representatives

"Ashland Daily Press’s Amber Mullen met with Gene Noem and Dennis Frame to discuss some of their plans for the proposed Badgerwood Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) in the Town of Eileen.

Noem is a representative of Reicks View Farms and Frame is the retired co-director of Discovery Farms for the UW-Extension currently serving as a hired consultant for the proposed Badgerwood CAFO."

Read the Ashland Daily Press article here

Pollution Concerns Heighten Hog Conflicts

"From Washington state to North Carolina, federal lawsuits are challenging the efficient, profitable livestock industry to change its ways. The arguments found in the lawsuits are based on studies that increasingly show the impact phosphorous, nitrate and bacteria from fertilizer and accumulated manure have on lakes and rivers as well as air pollution that may be harmful to respiratory health.

Large-scale livestock farmers insist they’re using techniques to keep manure and fertilizer from draining into waterways, though fifth-generation farmer Bill Couser of Des Moines says, “We realize this is not going to happen overnight or in two years.”

However, those who rely on rivers and lakes for drinking water or live near such farms — especially in the top two hog-producing states of Iowa and North Carolina — are growing impatient, and their lawsuits serve to highlight the debate between the right to raise livestock and the right to clean water and air."

Read the Des Moines Register article here

Experts Weigh in on Proposed Pig Farm in Bayfield

In February 2015, Farms Not Factories hosted their first CAFO informational forum at the Northern Great Lakes Visitors Center. The purpose of the forum was to answer unanswered questions environmentalist, public health and economist presented their findings and experiences with confined animal feeding operations also known as CAFOs.

Watch the Fox 21 report here. 

Proposal for Large-Scale Hog Farm in Bayfield County Sparks Debate

"The prospect of a major hog farrowing farm — one where piglets are born and raised for a few weeks or months — coming into Bayfield County brought raucous discussion into the barn office last week. An application was filed with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources in December that would make it the first so-called Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation in a county widely known for its apple orchards and family farms. The operation could have as many as 20,000 to 25,000 pigs on site at any given time."

Read the Duluth News Tribune article here

Wisconsin Supreme Court Ruling: Manure is a Pollutant

"The Wisconsin Supreme Court has ruled that manure applied to fertilize a field in the usual course of a farming business was transformed into a “pollutant” when it seeped into adjoining neighbors’ wells. As such, the Court ruled that a “pollution exclusion” clause in the farmer’s insurance policy eliminated his insurer’s duty to defend him in lawsuits seeking damage for the contaminated wells."

Read the article here. 

Proposal for Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation Concerns Bayfield County Residents

"A proposal to establish a hog farrowing operation in the Town of Eileen in Bayfield County has raised concerns by several Bayfield county residents, who fear the potential impacts on groundwater, odors caused by hog manure and impacts on existing organic farming operations.
They plan to take those concerns to the Bayfield county Board meeting tonight, even though no firm commitment to build a Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) has yet been announced.
According to Duane Popple, a wastewater specialist with the Agricultural Runoff Section of the Department of Natural Resources, he has spoken with Dale Reicks of Reicks View Farm near Lawler, Iowa about the possibility of operating a farrowing facility on Franzel Road in the Bayfield County Town of Eileen."

Read the Ashlad Daily Press article here