Dairy farmers want new state water officer to help, not hurt

Benjamin Yount
The Center Square
There are some worries among dairy farmers in Wisconsin about a new water officer position that’s headed for Gov. Evers’ desk.

(The Center Square) – There are some worries among dairy farmers in Wisconsin about a new water officer position that’s headed for Gov. Evers’ desk.

The Wisconsin Senate this week approved a plan, AB 727, that creates a new hydrologist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Extension.

The Wisconsin Dairy Alliance and the Venture Dairy Cooperative released a joint statement pleading with the governor not to turn the new position into an environmental advocate.

“We request this position be clearly defined as a resource specific to helping farmers, of all sizes, to support practices that improve the environment and compliance,” Dairy Alliance President Cindy Leitner said Wednesday.

The fear is that the hydrologist could tip the scales on regulations for groundwater, manure use, and chemical levels on farms across the state.

Venture Dairy Cooperative Executive Director Kim Bremmer says farmers have seen the negative impacts of advocacy from state regulators before.

“While only one position might seem harmless enough, the dairy industry and especially our members, have expended significant time and resources correcting the record to combat biased research conducted by just one agenda-driven researcher,” Bremmer said.

The legislation spells out the job for the new hydrologist as “focus[ing] on developing groundwater resource information primarily at county or local scales and assisting state and local governments, industries, and the public in interpreting and using this information.”

The proposal passed unanimously in the State Assembly last month.

Gov. Evers is expected to sign the legislation once it reaches his desk.