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Kinnard Farms, DNR reach settlement on groundwater suit

You may not see liquid manure trucks leaving Kinnard Farms in Casco in the near future as a result of a settlement reached on Monday.


The Midwest Environmental Advocates on behalf of six Kewaunee County neighbors, the Wisconsin Department of National Resources, and Kinnard Farms announced a settlement of a suit on Monday. According to the settlement’s terms, Kinnard Farms will withdraw a legal challenge it launched opposing the permit conditions imposed by the DNR such as instituting herd limits and mandating groundwater monitoring in several locations throughout their operations. It also requires Kinnard Farms to install a manure processing technology by 2027 that would substantially eliminate the use of liquid manure on their fields. The farm would be required to install groundwater monitoring systems in the fields and report the results if they do not reach those marks. The groundwater monitoring was a part of their 2022 permit application.


Jodi Parins was among the six neighbors involved in negotiating the settlement and she expressed her hope that the settlement and the potential of Sedron’s Varcor manure processing technology will allow them to stop being afraid of drinking their water. “Our fight for clean drinking water stretches back more than a decade and has involved many ordinary yet dedicated people, including more than a few who are no longer with us. This is a deeply personal issue for many of us,” said Parins. In March, Kinnard Farms reached a separate settlement that required them to pay $215,000 in fines and upgrade a pair of waste storage facilities and a feed storage area. 


In a statement made then by Kinnard Farms owner Lee Kinnard, he said that they “look forward to pursuing state-of-the-art manure management technology that will allow our family to remain on the cutting edge of conservation and further protect and improve water quality.”


You can read full quotes from Parins, Kinnard, and MEA attorneys below.


“Due to the relatively new nature of the technology, as well as this CAFO’s history of compliance violations, our clients insisted that a clear timeline and strong provisions for ensuring transparency and accountability be incorporated into the final settlement,” said MEA Staff Attorney Adam Voskuil.


Jodi Parins, a neighbor involved in negotiating the settlement, said, “Our fight for clean drinking water stretches back more than a decade and has involved many ordinary yet dedicated people, including more than a few who are no longer with us. This is a deeply personal issue for many of us. This settlement and the potential of Sedron’s Varcor technology will allow us to get on with our lives and, hopefully, stop being afraid of drinking our water.”


“Reaching this settlement allows us to move forward in our work to advocate for increased accountability and oversight of large livestock operations,” said MEA Senior Staff Attorney Dan Gustafson. “MEA’s participation in this case continues to focus attention on the public health risks associated with the expansion of industrial dairy operations in areas that are highly susceptible to groundwater and surface water pollution.”



As part of our ongoing commitment to implement practices that are highly protective of our region’s precious water and soil resources, the Kinnard Farms family is excited about the opportunity to move forward with the installation of state-of-the-art manure management technology.

The installation of this technology, the first such in Wisconsin, is a game changer. It will transform liquid manure into three separate and pathogen-free products: clean water, dry organic fertilizer and an organic ammonia fertilizer. The technology will remove most of the truck traffic from our local roads and greatly reduce the need for long-term storage of liquid manure in lagoons. Removal of the water from the manure hastens our ability to increase our family’s already extensive use of regenerative agricultural practices, allowing us to plant cover crops and eliminate tillage on an even greater number of our fields. These practices are proven to regenerate soil health, prevent erosion and sequester carbon, and are highly protective of water quality.


This settlement agreement represents a breakthrough in recognizing the benefits of accommodating farmer-led innovation to drive science-based environmental solutions on Wisconsin dairies. In facilitating this settlement, the DNR deserves credit for recognizing the potential of the technology, the value of providing flexibility within a regulatory framework and the usefulness of collaboration. We also appreciate the willingness of the other parties in this agreement to come to the table in the pursuit of the common goal of protecting our precious water and soil resources.

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