The Kewaunee County Land and Water Conservation Committee plans to put discussion of a dairy herd expansion moratorium on the agenda for its regular January meeting.
A majority of the speakers at a Nov. 28 public hearing Tuesday pleaded with the state Department of Natural Resources not to allow further expansion of dairy herds in Kewaunee County as it prepares to certify Wisconsin Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (WPDES) permits for five concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs).
The concern was over groundwater pollution and well contamination, especially in the northern part of the county after recent scientific confirmation that spreading liquid manure over thin soil with fragile karst underpinnings is a major contributing factor.
The permits as written would add about 4,500 additional animal units at the five CAFOs, what one speaker said would be the equivalent of 90,000 humans moving into the area.
Two members of the general public and Supervisor Lee Luft repeated the call for a moratorium on herd expansion when the committee held its December meeting on Tuesday.
“I think this committee needs to put forth to the full board a moratorium in the county to keep the herd sizes as they are until we solve this problem, and then we can move forward with expansion,” said Joe Mills of Kewaunee.
The county cannot enact such a moratorium on its own but can try to influence the DNR, committee members said.
Casey Buhr of Algoma read into the record a portion of an email he said he sent to committee members last week, also urging a pause in herd expansion, at least until a TMDL study of area waterways is completed.
“There’s evidence that already exists that shows agriculture is a contributing factor in groundwater contamination and waterway impairment,” Buhr said. “Many of the farmers have made this point themselves and indicated they wish to be part of the solution.”
Luft asked Supervisor Chuck Wagner, who chaired the meeting, to add discussion of a herd expansion moratorium to the board’s Jan. 16 agenda.