Letter: CAFO settlement is harmful to residents

To the editor:

Your Oct. 20 headline “DNR settles suit of large farm rules” was a disappointment. The article went on to explain the DNR “cannot make up the rules as they go along” and was very misleading.

The DNR agency has constraints with staffing, funding and support from our politicians. We all know, it’s who you know and how much you have that govern our laws in this country.

The Dairy Business Association has many lobbyists and is a daily presence in our Capitol. This article stated Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations can utilize animal run-off through a vegetation patch to filter pollution from their calf barns. It does not explain that this particular practice affected a field that abuts a natural wetland and river. The river is now contaminated with E. coli. The DNR was contacted by a resident about concerns of contamination of the river. The DNR stepped in and cited the CAFO to correct problems.

The Dairy Business Association sued the DNR. The CAFO did not take any accountability for the pollution to our environment and played the blame game. Residents within a 2-mile radius of this large CAFO have concerns regarding high levels of nitrates in their drinking water. They cannot use their well water for drinking or cooking.

“Under the settlement, the DNR agreed that vegetation patches are valid pollution control-systems and to stop regulating calf hutches.”

What happens to our ecosystem or water source if this practice is left to continue to pollute our environment?

“Farmers’ investments will be protected by this victory.”

The CAFO’s victory is to continue to make “big bucks” and collect government stipends (our tax dollars) to support them and Dairy Business Association. This is no victory for us and our wildlife that rely on clean drinking water/land that is not overcome with animal waste.

I encourage all individuals who live in a farming community to have your well water tested for nitrates. Nitrate is one of the most common groundwater contaminants in rural areas originating from farming practices. You may have a nitrate issue and do not know about it. You cannot see or taste nitrates. It is dangerous, especially for families with young children and pregnant women.

It is not in our best interest to let the CAFOs run our government. They do not have our best interests at heart. Do nothing and watch your property values plummet. Be safe – test!

Leslie Hill,

Town of Almon