Yahara Pride Farms builds on success

Keith Ripp, assistant deputy secretary at the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, spoke at the annual Yahara Pride meeting in DeForest, Wis.

By MAA
DEFOREST, Wis. — More than 125 farmers, community members and agribusiness professionals came together recently to celebrate conservation accomplishments and future projects.
“Building on success” formed the core of the Yahara Pride Farms Watershed-wide Conference on March 7.
​Yahara Pride Farms (YPF) is a farmer-led non-profit organization working to improve soil and water quality. The group strives to help advance new ideas and technology that balance water quality improvement with farm sustainability and profitability.  Continue reading “Yahara Pride Farms builds on success”

Lafayette Ag Stewardship Alliance looks to the future

By MAA
DARLINGTON, Wis. — More than 100 farmers, community members and agribusiness professionals came together recently to explore conservation practices and how farmers can make them economically viable.

The topics formed the core of the first annual meeting of the Lafayette Ag Stewardship Alliance (LASA) on March 1. LASA is a nonprofit farmer-led group focused on protecting and improving the quality of water and other natural resources in Lafayette County in southwestern Wisconsin. Continue reading “Lafayette Ag Stewardship Alliance looks to the future”

Honoring the land

Dairy earns conservation award

“We abuse land because we regard it as a
commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.”
-Aldo Leopold,
Foreword, A Sand
County Almanac

Brickstead Dairy in Greenleaf, Wis., received the Aldo Leopold Conservation Award.

By Leah Call
MAA
After more than a decade of implementing conservation efforts at Brickstead Dairy in Greenleaf, Wis., fifth-generation farm owner Dan Brick feels optimistic about the land he will someday pass on to his three sons.

“I know my kids are going to have a tough time taking over the farm—hopefully we kind of turned the ship around, improving things going forward,” Brick said. “I can say I gave it my best effort to give my kids the opportunity to farm.”

Last December, Brick’s efforts were recognized when he received the Aldo Leopold Conservation Award, founded by the Sand County Foundation and presented in partnership with the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation, Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board and the Wisconsin Land and Water Conservation Association.

The award, bearing the name of famed conservationist Aldo Leopold, recognizes farmers throughout the United States for private land stewardship and outstanding conservation practices. Continue reading “Honoring the land”

Wausau sewage dump shows media, environmentalists have it out for farmers

Courtesy of WSAU TV 

By Dan Ellsworth
Wisconsin Water Alliance President

On Jan. 23, the City of Wausau piped 3.7 million gallons of raw, untreated human feces and waste directly into the Wisconsin River. Was this by accident? No. It was by design, as the waste was routed directly to the river by the city’s sewerage system after a pipe leading to the wastewater treatment plant was plugged. Everything worked according to plan. As city officials alluded to afterward, the waters of the Wisconsin River actually were the perfect solution to the problem, as opposed to allowing sewage to back up into some Wausau homes. Continue reading “Wausau sewage dump shows media, environmentalists have it out for farmers”

Gallagher: Save the Bay initiative keeps moving forward

By Mike Gallagher
For MAA

I’m proud to be from Northeast Wisconsin. Here, we treat everyone we meet with kindness and respect. We stand by our veterans and help those in need. And we work hard every day to, in our own small way, hold the line and leave our little part of the world better than we found it.

Our character is shaped not only by our traditions of kindness and decency, but also by our land. From our rivers and streams, to our forests and rich farmland, the natural abundance of Northeast Wisconsin shapes and defines who we are as a people. Perhaps most significantly, we are home to the largest freshwater system in the world: the Great Lakes. These waters are tied directly to 1.4 million jobs, including the tourism industry that sustains many of our coastal communities. The lakes give drinking water to 40 million people each day and provide water for our crops that feed people around the world.

Continue reading “Gallagher: Save the Bay initiative keeps moving forward”

Dairy farmers voice support for local communities, sustainability efforts

Peninsula Pride Farms President Don Niles speaks during a gathering Tuesday of Kewaunee County farmers and ag professionals.

By MaryBeth Matzek
MAA Editor

CASCO, Wis. — Farmers and agricultural professionals from Kewaunee County gathered Tuesday morning at a local dairy to voice their commitment to agriculture, the community and the environment.

“We are committed to the belief that agriculture, a strong community and environmentalism can co-exist. Farms are an important part of our local communities,” said Lee Kinnard, the fifth generation of his family to farm in the county. “We take pride in being part of that 1.7 percent of the U.S. population that feeds everyone else in the country and we also take pride in protecting the environment.”

Nearly 100 area farmers and others connected to agriculture attended the gathering at Kinnard Farms Inc. near Casco prior to a state Department of Natural Resources public meeting to collect comments about the water discharge permits for five large farms. Farmers in Kewaunee County have come under scrutiny because of water quality issues. Continue reading “Dairy farmers voice support for local communities, sustainability efforts”

Agriculture groups part of new Michigan water coalition

By MAA

Michigan leaders have formed a unique new coalition working to improve water quality in the Western Lake Erie Basin.

The Michigan Cleaner Lake Erie through Action and Research (MI CLEAR) Partnership includes farmers, agricultural and environmental leaders, universities, conservationists, landscape professionals, energy leaders, tourism and economic development interests, and more. Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) Director Jamie Clover Adams said she was encouraged to call the diverse membership to the table as a new way to tackle the ongoing water quality challenges affecting the basin.

“Our mission is to improve the water quality of the Western Lake Erie Basin through open discussion among regional leaders that brings a coordinated perspective to existing efforts,” Clover Adams said. “We will drive support for research that builds understanding of the science around water quality issues, and promote actions that bring long-term, meaningful change.”

She added the MI CLEAR Partnership will promote awareness of science and research-based efforts aimed at improving the health of Lake Erie, and provide quantifiable metrics and unbiased information about Michigan’s efforts to preserve and protect the WLEB’s waters.

In addition to MDARD, other members of the MI CLEAR Partnership:

  • Michigan Farm Bureau
  • University of Michigan Water Center, Graham Sustainability Institute
  • Ducks Unlimited
  • Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ)
  • The Nature Conservancy – Michigan Chapter
  • Monroe County Drain Commission
  • Michigan Agribusiness Association (MABA)
  • DTE Energy
  • Michigan Nursery and Landscape Association
  • Michigan Chamber of Commerce
  • American WaterWorks – Michigan Chapter
  • Michigan State University Extension Institute of Water Research and Technology
  • Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Family Foundation

Water organization leader: Judge overstepped authority in well decision

By MAA
A Dane County judge ignored an opinion from the Wisconsin Attorney General and state law when vacating eight high capacity well permits issued by the Department of Natural Resources, according to the leader of a non-partisan organization focused on protecting the state’s water resources and advocating for sound water policies.
“This is an ill-advised and seriously flawed decision from a Madison judge who wants to legislate from the bench rather than follow the statutory law and accept the opinion of the Wisconsin Attorney General,” said Dan Ellsworth, president of the Wisconsin Water Alliance. “In reaching its faulty decision, the court ignored a 2016 attorney general opinion that correctly states the DNR’s authority and the proper statutory provisions controlling the issuance of high capacity wells.”
Judge Valerie Bailey-Rihn ruled this week the DNR had ample authority to set limits on well applications to protect drinking water supplies and lakes and streams that might be affected by heavy water use.
Ellsworth said the ruling also goes against Act 310, which was enacted by the Wisconsin Legislature in 2003 and contains specific requirements for issuing high capacity wells, and Act 21, which provides that explicit statutory laws are controlling and the public trust doctrine is not implicated when issuing permits for high capacity wells.
“These laws were enacted by the Legislature to give certainty to the regulatory permitting process without sacrificing water protections. Unfortunately, the judge failed to read the clear statutory law that regulates high capacity wells and instead invoked a flawed and incorrect reading of the public trust doctrine,” he said. “We expect the case will be appealed and are confident that it will be overturned.”
Ellsworth said WWA will continue to work to protect the state’s water resources and advocate for sound water policies that benefit current and future generations of Wisconsin families, cities, businesses, farmers and others.

Group formed to protect Wisconsin’s water

By MAA

A diverse group representing Wisconsin businesses and landowners have formed a new organization aimed at broadening the discussion about Wisconsin’s fresh water supply and the important role it plays in sustaining and growing the state’s economy.

The Wisconsin Water Alliance (WWA) will advocate for common sense regulations and policies that both help protect the state’s abundant fresh water supplies and foster a science and fact based discussion on water related issues, said Dan Ellsworth, who serves as president of the WWA board and is president and CEO of ANIMART LLC.

“Wisconsin has an abundant supply of freshwater, including deep, replenishing aquifers, the Great Lakes, the Mississippi River, the Wisconsin River, many other rivers and streams and an estimated 15,000 inland lakes,” he said. “We want to work with policy makers and others who share our commitment in protecting this vital natural resource for generations to come and to also make sure that we can continue to rely on it to help drive the state’s economy.”

Ellsworth added the WWA has as its mission to advocate for sound water policies that benefit current and future generations of Wisconsin families, cities, businesses, and others.

Continue reading “Group formed to protect Wisconsin’s water”

WI farmer-led conservation group debuts in LaFayette County

By MAA

A group of farmers in western Wisconsin launched the Lafayette Ag Stewardship Alliance (LASA) in late August.
LASA will identify and promote conservation practices that demonstrate continuous improvement in farming methods that protect water quality.
The farmer-led, nonprofit organization, sets forth three main responsibilities: protecting natural resources, empowering members to continuously improve and giving the public an inside view of farming practices, said Jim Winn, a dairy farmer from Wiota and chairman of the new group.
“All of us in the community share in the responsibility of protecting the quality of our water. As farmers, we realize and accept our role,” he said.
Sixteen farmers, representing 23,000 animals and 56,000 acres of farmland, already are on board. Members include crop farmers, beef farmers and a pig farmer. The farms are of all sizes and types, including one organic dairy.