The Midwest Food Products Association praised the Wisconsin State Senate which passed a bill modifying high-capacity well regulation last week.
The bill would exempt well repairs, replacement, reconstruction and ownership transfers from state oversight. It also calls for a study of watersheds in Wisconsin’s Central Sands region where concerns over groundwater use have been raised.
According to MWFPA President Nick George, “This is a necessary piece of legislation in order to insure regulatory certainty for farmers who rely on high-capacity wells to irrigate their crops and hydrate livestock. Our producers rely on high capacity wells for irrigation of land in order to produce a steady supply of raw product for fresh and processed consumption."
Purchasing, pumping, treating and disposing of water is a major cost to Wisconsin’s food manufacturers. George pointed out that food processors use water to rinse, cook, chill and sanitize their facilities. A large percentage of the water used is returned to the ground.
Wisconsin ranks third nationally for food manufacturing with $43.7 billion in shipments. More than 64,000 people in Wisconsin were food processing employees in 2015 and the industry accounted for $3.1 billion in annual payroll.
“Food processors and their growers strive to be good environmental stewards because their livelihood is directly dependent on maintaining productive land and water resources,” said George. “The food products industry cannot exist without an adequate supply of clean, affordable water.”