Green Guide

Wisconsin officials propose rules to limit farm animal waste

Posted July 11

— Wisconsin officials have created new standards to limit animal waste on farms in the eastern part of the state.

The proposed regulations from the state Department of Natural Resources target more than 87,000 acres of farmland in 15 eastern counties, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (http://bit.ly/2tJz5wQ ) reported. The land lies over fractured bedrock, which can serve as a pathway for manure to get into aquifers and taint drinking water.

In recent years, concerns over well contamination in the state have increased. Northeastern Wisconsin is particularly vulnerable because of high cattle populations and geological conditions of the soil. Studies in Kewaunee County have found that rain and melting snow can cause manure to seep quickly into the ground and contaminate wells.

The proposed rules include certain practices farmers must follow, such as avoiding certain areas to reduce the possibility of polluting groundwater. Spreading manure on farm fields with less than 2 feet of soil and on frozen or snow-covered ground with less than 5 feet of soil would be prohibited. Farmers would also be required to keep manure 250 feet away from a drinking water well.

Currently, regulations are uniform across the state. Department officials said special action must be taken in eastern Wisconsin in order to meet the groundwater standard.

The proposal is expected to go to the Legislature by January. A similar measure was reworked last year after farm groups raised objections over the regulations.

"We want to ensure that any end result brings about environmental protections and is practical for farmers to implement," said John Holevoet, a spokesman for the Wisconsin Dairy Business Association.

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