Big farms, frac sand mines could feel force of judge’s groundwater ruling

The number of CAFOs, or concentrated animal feeding operations, has shot up in the past decade — as have concerns about their impact on water quality and quantity.

Two weeks ago, Administrative Law Judge Jeffrey Boldt approved the state Department of Natural Resources’ issuance of permits for a large and controversial dairy farm in Central Wisconsin. But he also reduced the amount of water the farm could pump from proposed high-capacity wells and required the DNR to consider the impact of the withdrawals in conjunction with other, nearby wells — a concept known as cumulative impacts. Continue Reading

The community digester located near Waunakee is the stateÕs first to process manure from more than one farm. Roughly 100,00 gallons of manure from 2,400 cows on three nearby farms is pumped daily through underground pipes to the digester. Its purpose is to keep phosphorus from polluting the Yahara watershed.

Manure digesters seen as best hope for curbing lake pollution, but drawbacks remain

Since 2001, manure digesters have been popping up across the state. Wisconsin now has 34, the most in the nation, with two more scheduled to begin operating by 2015. In all these digesters, bacteria eat biomass like manure, food scraps or whey and emit energy in the form of methane gas. Continue Reading

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Should raw milk sales be legalized?

For farmer Brian Wickert, the raw milk bill is about having the freedom to live without interference from the government. But for health officials in America’s Dairyland, it’s about potentially exposing unsuspecting citizens to disease-causing bacteria. At the crux of this debate is the age-old question: How much should government protect its citizens from possible hazards? Continue Reading

Slideshow: A community transformed (Dairyland Diversity Part 6)

Reporter Jacob Kushner and photographer Jake Naughton went to Darlington, Wis., for the latest installment of our Dairyland Diversity package (it’s here: Immigrant dairy workers transform a rural Wisconsin community). And they came back with an unusual coming-to-America story. One in which the old guard and the new wave are actually living in relative harmony.
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