To start I want to identify that there are a lot of good things going on to improve water quality in Kewaunee County. We have new farming practices being implemented that are more environmentally sound. There are multiple programs in our county, state and federal agencies that are helping in the water quality areas.
There have been a lot of changes in our county that affects Kewaunee County’s farmers. Some of these changes are related to our Land and Water Conservation Department for our county.
In 2015 there was an ordinance passed that is part of a strategy to improve well water quality in our county. Kewaunee County has had well water issues for many years, especially in areas of the county with shallow depth to bedrock. This ordinance has affected some farmers more than others based upon the soil types and depths on their farms. This is one area that has caused frustration for some farmers.
Another area is a land use fee that was passed by the county board which equates to 50 cents per acre per year. These fees were set to help pay for the time that it takes for the Land and Water team to inspect our farmland to look for areas that need attention for conservation practices. Most of the farm owners also participate in the Farmland Preservation program that pays $7.50 per acre to perform conservation practices.
The reason I bring this to attention is that our Land and Water Conservation Department team has been taking some harassment from frustrated farmers over how some of these changes has affected their farms.
Our L &W team works very hard to make Kewaunee County a better place to live. Their responsibilities are governed by county and state regulations. They don’t make the rules but yet they have to enforce them. Their main focus is to protect and improve water quality, ground and surface water in our county.
Please understand that they are only trying to do their jobs as instructed. If you have frustrations, don’t take it out on the staff. You can come to our L & W committee meetings that we have monthly to explain your frustrations and we can see what we can do to help. Or call any one of the L & W committee members. The contact information for our committee is on the county website.
I want to invite our farmers to come to our L & W committee meetings. That’s how you can influence how our department works with our county’s farmers. Please treat our county employees with respect. Let’s all work together to make Kewaunee a better place to live.
John T. Pagel
Dairy Farmer and Chairman of Land & Water Conservation Committee