Historical context of CAFOs and their manure
The article detailing Ledgeview residents seeking answers to the permitting process for a manure pit for Ledgeview Farms LLC lacked historical perspective.
In the 1980s, the process of flushing manure from confined dairy cow feeding operations was developed. At the time the process was developed, little to no forethought or scientific investigation was given to the detrimental effects the process would have on the environment and communities.
Large concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) developed by taking advantage of the efficiencies associated with the process. Now the detrimental effects recognized with liquid manure flushing are degradation of ground and surface water, loss of soil organic content, nitrate and phosphate to streams, sedimentation of creeks, streams and harbors, aberrant increases and decreases in property values and excessive wear on town roads. All of these effects and costs are externalized to the general population.
The Legislature has the responsibility and authority to ensure that ground and surface water resources and soil fertility are sustainable. The Legislature has delegated its authority in this regard to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.
The DNR is now placed in the untenable position of establishing regulations that make a fundamentally flawed process work. Millions of dollars have been spent on CAFO facilities, liquid manure distribution equipment and cheese processing plants.
I cannot help but be reminded of a statement attributed to a member of the British Parliament (Winston Churchill): “You can always count on Americans to do the right thing – after they've tried everything else.”