Agriculture group: “Third World conditions” in Kewaunee County

cows on farm

An agricultural group is calling out the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, accusing the agency of not protecting the health of people in Kewaunee County.

Socially Responsible Agricultural Project (SRAP) issued the 137-page report, saying in it there’s proof the DNR isn’t doing its job protecting Kewaunee County residents.

“We should not mince words about this. This is nothing short of a public health emergency. What we’re talking about are Third World conditions in America’s heartland,” SRAP’s Scott Dye said.

How farms manage waste in the county has been a hot button topic for years. That waste seeps into the water wells and contaminates drinking water, according to the report.

Dye, the group’s field coordinator, says this report shows the DNR is letting industrial dairy farms pollute Kewaunee County by not checking to see if farms are following the rules for handling waste, not enforcing rules that already exist, and not taking community complaints seriously.

“We have people in our community who cannot drink their water, brush their teeth, wash dishes, and are fearful of bathing in their water if they have an open cut,” Lynn Utesch of Kewanee Citizens Advocating for Responsible Environmental Stewardship said.

“The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources that has utterly failed its duty to properly regulate the 16 largest industrial-size farms and failed in its duty to protect the health and safety of the county’s residents and environment,” said Dye.

Dept. of Natural Resources spokesman Bill Cosh sent this statement to Action 2 News:

Protection of groundwater and our drinking water in Kewaunee County and the entire state remains a priority for this agency.  To that end, we are working with citizens and other stakeholders of Kewaunee County to develop proposed actions and potential solutions to reduce risk to public health and groundwater quality that could not only be applied in northeast Wisconsin, but also be potentially applicable to other areas of the state. We are regulating within the full authority we have within the current laws and rules. However, we are continuing to work to come to potential suggestions for the legislature.


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