MEA Weighs in on CAFO Expansion Proposal

Agricultural pollution threatens groundwater as well as surface water. Harmful algal blooms like this one in Green Bay have become more common in recent years.

Midwest Environmental Advocates is urging the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to fully evaluate the risks to public health and water resources before issuing a permit that would allow Door County’s largest livestock operation to double in size.

S & S Jerseyland Dairy, a concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO) located in Door County, has applied for a wastewater permit that would allow it to expand its herd size from 5,000 cows to approximately 10,000 cows.

If allowed to expand, the facility would generate more than 95 million gallons of manure and process wastewater annually. The production area and the fields where the manure will be spread are located in an area that is highly susceptible to groundwater contamination due to shallow depth to bedrock. In short, it is difficult to imagine a worse place for a dairy operation of that size. 

On Feb. 14, MEA submitted comments to the DNR outlining the risks to public health and to Door County’s groundwater and surface water. We believe S & S Jerseyland lacks adequate acreage to safely dispose of the huge amount of manure the expanded facility would produce. We have also asked DNR to do the following: 

  • require groundwater monitoring at production sites and fields where manure will be spread 
  • impose a limit on the number of animals allowed at the facility
  • require written spreading agreements for all fields where manure will be spread 
  • prepare an Environmental Impact Statement, which would allow the public to offer truly informed comments and would assist public officials in making informed decisions

MEA’s comments were submitted about a week after DNR held a public hearing where many community members spoke in opposition to the proposed permit. DNR is expected to consider and respond to all public comments in a Notice of Final Determination within the next few months. 

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