Farmers Sue State to Stop Giant Dairy

     MADISON, Wisc. (CN) – Family Farm Defenders sued Wisconsin to try to stop a commercial dairy whose planned 6,270 “animal units” would produce 55.3 million gallons of manure and wastewater a year.
     Fifty-five million gallons of wastewater would cover 1 acre 169 feet deep.
     Family Farm Defenders and three landowners sued the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources in Dane County Court.
     The state has approved a giant Richfield Dairy in small, centrally located Adams County and rebuffed the nonprofit’s request for a contested hearing.
     Family Farm Defenders is joined by three plaintiffs who own land with surface water as far as 25 miles away from the proposed dairy, which the landowners say will be degraded by the dairy’s discharges.
     In addition to 4,300 milking/dry cows and 250 steers, the dairy also plans to build two large manure storage ponds with a combined holding capacity of 33.2 million gallons.
     Family Farm Defenders also objects to the numerous other structures planned: a freestall barn, an 80-stall milking parlor, livestock holding area, concrete feed storage pad, vegetated treatment area for precipitation runoff, sweet corn silage bunker, HDPE [high density polyethylene] lined sweet corn silage attenuation basin, manure processing building, manure solids storage area, animal mortality storage facility, two high capacity wells, and four stormwater management ponds.
     Family Farm Defenders says the surrounding community will be degraded by the dairy’s “odor, truck traffic, land-spreading practices, and projected impact on water quality and quantity.”
     The nonprofit says its mission is to foster a “farmer-controlled and consumer-oriented food and fiber system, based upon democratically controlled institutions that empower farmers to speak for and respect themselves in their quest for social and economic justice. To this end, FFD supports sustainable agriculture, farm worker rights, animal welfare, consumer safety, fair trade, and food sovereignty. It generally is opposed to industrial farm operations such as CAFOs [concentrated animal feeding operations].”
     Family Farm Defenders claims the state “erred in determining that there were no disputes of material fact” in its request for a hearing. It says the decision was a “procedural error” that violated Wisconsin law. It wants the decision set aside, vacated or remanded for corrective action.
     The plaintiffs are represented by Christa Westerberg and James Saul with McGillivray, Westerberg & Bender.

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