Life for Wisconsin families has been disrupted by the relatively rare practice in Wisconsin of using water irrigation systems to spray liquid manure on farm fields. Now the issue has taken on new urgency as more large dairy farms consider using the practice.
Six leading researchers at Johns Hopkins University’s Bloomberg School of Public Health are warning northeastern Wisconsin rural residents that over-application of manure at intensive livestock operations could cause them a host of health problems and damage the environment.
A four-day hearing on challenges to the expansion of a Kewaunee County mega-dairy illustrated deep divisions, ranging from neighbors who shared fears of polluted wells and illness to fertilizer and feed dealers who showed up to express their support of big farms.
Water-quality advocates say the state Department of Natural Resources’ regulation of large farms, known as concentrated animal feeding operations or CAFOs, is too lax. DNR acknowledges low staffing levels have strained enforcement efforts, and described the program.
Critics were quick to carp that OpenBook Wisconsin, Gov. Scott Walker’s new website tracking state spending, was delayed for a year and is still not fully functional. One Democratic lawmaker said “it’s had more problems than the Obamacare website.”
Wisconsin, the only state with a program that compensates the owners of dogs killed by wolves while hunting other animals, has paid tens of thousands of dollars during the past decade to individuals who have violated state hunting or firearms laws.
Scientists have learned that some chemicals may mimic or disrupt the hormones of people and wildlife, with potentially health-damaging results. They can be natural, like the estrogens produced by plants or cows, or synthetic, like birth control pills. They are known to be widespread in the nation’s waters, and to a lesser extent have turned up in groundwater. Sidebar to story on estrogenic wells in northeastern Wisconsin’s karst region.
Like some other west-central Wisconsin residents, Frances and Dean Sayles are frustrated with the state Department of Natural Resources’ lack of a comprehensive approach to addressing concerns surrounding potential health problems from crystalline silica dust. Now some residents, academics, local government officials and even a frac sand producer have begun taking action.
Prions — the infectious, deformed proteins that cause chronic wasting disease in deer — can be taken up by plants such as alfalfa, corn and tomatoes, according to new research from the National Wildlife Health Center in Madison. The research further demonstrated that stems and leaves from tainted plants were infectious when injected into laboratory mice.The findings are significant, according to the researchers and other experts, because they reveal a previously unknown potential route of exposure to prions for a Wisconsin deer herd in which the fatal brain illness continues to spread.