Sep 9, 2015

Big Ag Is Poisoning the Dairy State

Agrarianism v. Industrialism—Dairy State's Big Ag Poisons Water, Hits Clean Water Advocates with Defamation

Wisconsin's tourist and recreational treasures are under assault from its domestic industrialized dairy model emitting toxins through the annual dumping and spraying of 100s of millions of tons of liquidized cow manure into the environment.

Think of the dairy polluters' full-spectrum assault as an airborne, land, water, chemical and biological attack.

The polluters could not care less, as property values plummet and areas around sited CAFOs or industrialized factory farms create unofficial red lines.

Even as long-time and young residents flee Wisconsin, the Dairy Business Association (DBA) calls for more migrant labor on one side of its mouth, and tells Wisconsinites they're all about jobs and feeding the world on the other.

The 'Sage of Baltimore,' H.L. Mencken, once said, "When somebody says it’s not about the money, it’s about the money."

Mencken knew hucksters when he heard them, and the DBA are hucksters writ large polluting on a massive scale, now employing defamation for public image damage control.

Clean water advocates from Kewaunee, Brown, Door, Bayfield, Ashland, Wood, Adams, Portage, Waushara and Dane counties and more are blossoming. The River Alliance of Wisconsin has all lights blinking red.

The heavily Catholic Fox River Valley appears to be taking seriously Pope Francis' call "that the earth is essentially a shared inheritance, whose fruits are meant to benefit everyone," a corollary of which is don't poison your neighbor. (Ikerd)

If the Fox Valley is coming around to the value of clean water under the Pope's influence, the DBA is effectively the anti-Christ. Children almost dying is a tragedy that resonates and most people won't forget the bastards who almost poisoned children to death with more tragedy to come in the Green Bay and Fox River Valley watersheds.

In Green Bay, a community bank's CEO in Green Bay decided the costs, the externalities (Ikerd) (Mal Contends), to area communities, families' health and water are issues worth discussing.

The gentleman, Robert B. Atwell, offers a presentation advocating dialogue and solving the water-pollution crisis and Wisconsin is in crisis.

Brown County Wisconsin (where Green Bay is located), after all, is the place where a six-month-old infant landed in intensive care after drinking well water in 2004 from the faucet, an activity becoming more dangerous across northeastern Wisconsin and the Fox Valley in east-central Wisconsin.

Reports Charles Duhigg in the New York Times (Oct. 15, 2009)

Judy Treml, of Wisconsin, told [federal] lawmakers that her 6-month-old daughter was hospitalized after drinking water that had become contaminated when a nearby farm covered its land with manure, which then seeped into her family’s well. One of the problems, lawmakers said, is that such pollution often goes unpunished or is outside the jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act.

'I just can’t imagine turning on your faucet and manure coming out,' said Representative Phil Hare, an Illinois Democrat. 'We’ve got to fix this, and we’ve got to fix it quickly. It’s shameful that your family has to go through this.'
The Treml family was lucky their infant survived, and only though the extraordinary efforts of medical professionals.

The very young, the elderly and those with compromised immune systems are the most vulnerable to the array of toxins industrialized ag sickos inject onto communities and surface and ground water in pursuit of money and political power.

Green Bay in Lake Michigan is turning into massive dead zones.

Other stories on the record concern similar occurrences in Door and Kewaunee counties, also in northeastern Wisconsin, with background assurances from toxicologists the DNA of bovine toxins can be traced to individual CAFO and near-CAFO operations with the same industrialized ag model.

"Door County Public Health Director Rhonda Kolberg said 16 people living in or visiting homes in the area were sickened after coming in contact with water from nearby wells, including a 3-month-old child who had visited Paul and Leona Lysne's home," notes Peter J. Devlin in the Green Bay Press Gazette. See also Lundstrom, Door County Pulse.

"Nitrates and bacteria," Mark Sagrillo of Kewaunee County says. Sagrillo drinks all of his water from bottled water for more than a decade now.

So what is the response of the industry pressure group, the Dairy Business Association (DBA)? Deny, attack and defame.

Treml, Lysne, Sagrillo, well they're fearmongers if they blame CAFOs and industrialized agriculture.

The DBA tried to shut down discussion, released a smear job in early September on the Green Bay community banker, Robert B. Atwell, who is the founder and CEO of Green Bay’s Nicolet National Bank (publicly traded as Nicolet Bank Shares Inc.), and targeted clean water activists in the press.

Mr. Atwell is a staid numbers guy as you might expect of a banker and declines all press interviews, preferring to engage the public in an occasional presentation he gives entitled, "Water, Money and Community."

The DBA threw a brush-back pitch with the message: Shut up, Atwell.

Atwell has been giving his talk for over a year and stays low-key, but one suspects this long-time Brown County resident knows fully well about the Tremls, Lysnes and so many other Wisconsin families.

Below is a factual retort to the DBA from Lynn and Nancy Utesch, small sustainable farmers with Kewaunee Cares [Kewaunee C-A-R-E-S (Citizens Advocating Responsible Environmental Stewardship] (Facebook)], to the hit job on the banker concerned about his patrons' health and community.

Residents living in northeastern Wisconsin may wish to consider opening a checking account with Green Bay’s Nicolet National Bank if they want to continue to drink water from the faucet.

Many refuse to drink the water now, it's not worth the risk.

Here's some fact checking on this DBA propaganda piece by the DBA's Gordon Speirs entitled 'Environmental discussion needs facts, not fearmongering'.  

DBA: "Unfortunately, Atwell’s speech is lacking on both fronts." [DBA references environmental policy enforcement and the scientific underpinnings of those laws.]

DBA: "[Atwell] repeatedly talks about a March 1 helicopter flight over a field 'saturated in manure,' often implying or saying it was a CAFO operation."

... It is a near 100 percent probability that any field covered in manure over the winter is a non-CAFO operation. According to state law, 'unless there is a department approved emergency situation … liquid manure may not be surface applied (by a CAFO) from February 1 through March 31.'

Fact Check: Actually it may well have been from a smaller farm or from a CAFO.  Many CAFO's ask for emergency spreading during times even during the restricted times mentioned by Mr. Speirs. Volumes of manure generated at these operations are so voluminous that emergency spreading has become quite a regular practice, rolling back all of the good work by those, such as the Treml family, whose own tragic experience with e-coli poisoning due to winter spreading helped enact winter spreading regulations.

DBA: Atwell states the Bible of manure/nutrient management on each farm — the Nutrient Management Plans (NMPs) — "are not followed and not verified … regulations without compliance testing is useless," specifically in regard to "industrial-scale operations."

Violations of the Clean Water Act can cost more than $30,000 a day — that’s a penalty that not even a deep-pocketed banker could weather for long.

Fact Check:  Many Clean Water Act violations are NOT met with any fine, and minimal enforcement. Most efforts are made in merely making the farm and polluting violation "Come into Compliance." Sometimes "coming into compliance" can take multiple years, while the citizenry is repetitively exposed to "BMP's"--Bad management Practices-- that contaminate, poison and pollute.

DBA: Among the environmental safeguards built into the system:

CAFOs are required to report where every drop of manure goes and distribute that manure in accordance with an NMP (specific to the needs of the crops, and not an ounce more).

Fact Check:  Many farms have workforce and haulers onsite who are not even aware of how much manure is actually supposed to be distributed per acre. NMP's and self-monitoring aren't working in Kewaunee County where 79% of our farmland is in Nutrient management plans, accompanied by the mass contamination occurring there. An Environmental Integrity Project report Spring 2015, revealed that some CAFO's are applying excess nutrients that could never be taken up by a growing plant.

DBA: CAFOs report manure distribution annually to the DNR and provide detailed information as to what fields were applied, when application was done, volume of the application per acre, as well as the sampled nutrient content of the manure as analyzed by an appropriate lab.

Fact Check: Often reporting comes in a full year later after the application has occurred. Samples analyzed for nutrient content are not done on a regular consistent basis, prior to manure being applied. 

DBA: CAFOs are required to test their soil at least every four years to demonstrate they are not over-applying nutrients.

Fact Check: While this is a true statement, soil samples are pulled from questionable areas, and all sampling is done by the farms' self-monitoring agronomist, not a third party.

DBA: If the DNR sees potential problems in the reporting or discrepancies in the projected amount of manure generated versus the amount reported, they will investigate further.
Fact Check: Annual reports often are not fulfilled, including logging of amounts, content, fields spread on, etc. What does a further investigation by the DNR here-- really mean? Any further investigation could be taking place a full year after the application in question has occurred. 

DBA: Atwell cites California’s dairy and environmental struggles as a reason for alarm, suggesting Wisconsin dairymen have long emulated the West Coast model and are engaged in a 'race to the bottom.'

Wisconsin has a long history of pursuing far more progressive environmental standards. Wisconsin enacted siting laws under Gov. Jim Doyle specifying standards for CAFOs and accounts for factors including livestock structures and their location on a property, nutrient management, odor and air issues, waste storage facilities, runoff management, and local approval involvement.

Fact Check: Under Gov. Doyle the Livestock Siting Laws were enacted - that take away local control and help impoverish our rural communities. CAFOs exist without realistic odor standards or air emissions outside of the facility itself - yet the majority of all these issues take place on spreading fields where nothing is regulated.

'Strict standards' for manure storage allows for a leakage rate of 500 gallons per acre, per day. 

Local approval?  Livestock siting laws stripped communities of having a voice-- and protecting the places they call home.
Former Gov. Jim Doyle (D-Madison) (2003-2011) deserves condemnation for carrying the DBA's poisoned-water agenda leading to his seven-point reelection in 2006.

Doyle took in a hefty sum from Big Ag, even a contribution from the infamous polluter James Wysocki, a financier of the National Potato Council who has been upping his contributions to the National Republican Congressional Committee in the GOP quest to kill the federal EPA as Scott Walker has done to the Wisconsin DNR.

The Wisconsin Livestock Facility Siting Law that CAFOs use in litigation is pure political payoff to the DBA, signed into law by Jim Doyle, and which became effective in May 2006.

Wonder what Jim Doyle has to say about getting the monstrous CAFO-industry juggernaut moving and polluting Wisconsin waters.

For future reference, if the Dairy Business Association puts out a press release, assume it's a series of lies.

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