You could see more cows come to Kewaunee County if Kinnard Farms in Casco chose to max out on its permit allowance.
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has placed a maximum of 21,450 animal units (approximately 15,000 cows) on Kinnard Farms under the proposed permit that had a hearing last week. The farm is currently operated with 11,369 animal units (approximately 8,000 cows), approximately 1,500 less than it proposed when it went through the permitting process in November 2017. One milking cow is equal to 1.40 animal units. The permit suggests the farm anticipates over 103 million gallons of manure and process 2,045 tons in solid waste in 2022. The liquid manure production is less than what was reported in the 2017 application.
The permit also shows Kinnard Farms operating on more land with over 16,200 acres under its nutrient management plan, compared to 11,400 acres at the time of the 2017 permit. In addition to having the proper storage for the liquid manure generated by the increased herd, Kinnard Farms is required to install a groundwater monitoring system at some of its land application sites. Kinnard Farms has to submit an initial plan for groundwater monitoring by March 31st and an update by September 30th.
A Wisconsin Supreme Court decision last summer opened the door for the DNR to offer farms with an animal unit cap and other conditions such as groundwater monitoring. The case stemmed from Kinnard Farms nearly doubling the size of their herd in 2012 and the lawsuits that soon followed.
Environmental advocates have expressed their concern ahead of its official approval. Midwest Environmental Advocates Executive Director Tony Wilkin Gibart told news outlets that the DNR is missing the opportunity to develop that limit as a meaningful way to address the water contamination crisis in Kewaunee County." The permit fact sheet does point out that the “Kinnard production site does show persistent exceedances of groundwater quality standards for nitrates and bacteria.” Evan Feinauer from Clean Wisconsin applauded the groundwater monitoring requirement, but added that it does not go far enough.
The public can still weigh in on the proposed permit until January 25th.