Signs from the demonstration in Madison on December 1st.
Photo by Sara Martinez
Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, the Department of Agriculture, Trade & Consumer Protection & the Dairy Business Association (a lobbying group) sign memorandum of understanding.
(Means that there will be a 'cozy' relationship with a lobbying group for factory farms)
I think by now you all know my position on factory farming. There is no benefit from it (except of course it makes "Big Ag" richer).What we need in Wisconsin & all over the country is more controls on the siting process & much more regulation to prevent the polluting that these farms cause. Right now, the Dairy Business Association (DBA), a private organization that represents factory farming in it's lobbying efforts, is trying to push through legislation that rushes the process of permits for CAFO's. This takes away what little local control citizens have left to protect family farms and the air & water quality of the their area. Seems that the DBA has undue access to the Wisconsin government. They were responsible for steering the unfair Livestock Siting Law throught the legislature & also lobbied sucessfully to extend the deadline for CAFO's national air emmisions standards. They are obviously NOT on the side of the citizens of Wisconsin who feel it is their right as living being on this earth to have fresh air to breathe and uncontaminated water to drink. Besides that, do you really think that the products that come from those farms are healthy for you to eat? I read a report that said that 98% of the meat, milk & eggs you buy at a conventional grocery store and that you consume while eating out are from factory farms. It's not that family farms can't produce enough to feed the population, it's that legislation is written to benefit the huge CAFO's. How can smaller farms compete with the unfair advantages that factory farms have? Do your part & eat from local food providers. Know where your food comes from. You will not only be helping the farmer, you will benefit health-wise.
So, there was a Dairy Business Association meeting in Madison on December 1st at the Concourse Hotel. One of the speakers at this meeting was the DNR secretary Matt Frank. A group of concerned citizens demonstrated by picketing outside the hotel. Now you know that the DNR & the DATCP are supposed to be representing the citizens of the state, not big business interests. The DBA insists that it's lobbying efforts help all the state's dairy farmers but in reality it helps fewer than 2%. They seem to be more interested in aggresively helping the huge factory farms which have outside investors who want to place even more CAFO's in Wisconsin. You see, other states have places tougher restrictions on CAFO's due to the environmental disaster they cause. Of course they want to come to Wisconsin. The legislators (along with the DBA) are trying to make it easier. Do the citizens of Wisconsin deserve to be the ones that get the prize of more factory farms with less legislation?
Here is a quote from Matt Urch, a local family farmer, who was demonstrating outside the hotel:
"The DBA is working to make sure that Wisconsin opens its doors to California-style megadairies, even those proposed by absentee investors. If factory farms were the boon to rural communities like the DBA says they are, people would be fighting to bring them in, instead of struggling to keep them out. Our elected officials and the appointed heads of DNR & DATCP need to do what is best for the majority of family farmers and rural nrighbors & stop catereing to a few factory farm operators." Well said Matt.
Here is another quote from Susan Erlandson of Vernon County:
“Iʼm here today because families and consumers have a right to know that the DBA is encouraging large factory farms in Wisconsin. There is a lot at stake in terms of the environment and the publicʼs health and safety. Itʼs been proven that CAFOs are a threat to water quality with their large manure lagoons and systematic use of sub-therapeutic antibiotics. The DBA promotes questionable practices in agriculture.” Thanks Susan.
And from Dan Peper:
“I think there are positives that are going on in agriculture, like grass-based farming, and we see examples all over the state. The real issues are not all about size. However, a CAFO that needs a massive manure lagoon just canʼt be a good example of whatʼs new and right in farming.”
So what can you do to stop this from happening where you live? Keep informed & active. Write to your legislators, attend meetings, protest. Believe me, this is not something you want in your back yard.