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Large farms await next steps after court decision

The Dairy Business Association knows about as much as you do when it comes to what last week’s Wisconsin Supreme Court decision means for some of its members. The state’s high court ruled last week that the Department of Natural Resources officials can impose operating conditions on large farms and consider the environmental impacts of high-capacity wells before approving permits. One of the decisions dates back to a nearly-decade-long case involving Casco’s Kinnard Farms.  In 2015, an administrative law judge called for Kinnard Farms to limit the number of animals and to install groundwater monitoring stations. Opponents to the decisions, including the DBA, said at the time that the DNR could not require those conditions under state law. DBA Director of Governmental Affairs John Holevoet likened the case to one ruled on earlier this year where the Wisconsin State Supreme Court stripped the powers from former Department of Human Services Secretary-designee Andrea Palm on how she handled the COVID-19 pandemic. While the future of the permitting process for operations like Kinnard Farms remains murky, Holevoet says a lot has changed with how farmers operate since the case first entered the courts.

Holevoet says it is unlikely that animals would be removed from farms, but could see the possibility of new limits moving forward. He adds that the real impact of the decision could be a couple of years away. Midwest Environmental Advocates Executive Director Tony Wilkin Gibart told last week it should have never taken eight years to get to this point, but called the decision a true David vs. Goliath moment. He added it showed that Wisconsin residents have the right to demand clean water.  


Picture courtesy of the Dairy Business Association

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