Numerous farmers and supporters of agriculture lined up on March 15 at the Capitol in Madison to share with a committee of legislators why it’s vital that high-capacity wells remain available without an additional blanket of regulation.
Lawmakers are considering two bills related to such wells. They are explained in the cover story of this newsletter.
At a time when agriculture is at best misunderstood and at worst under attack, it is important to have the commitment we saw last month to engage lawmakers and the public. So, kudos to the people who participated — 172 spoke or registered in support of the bills. That’s impressive. The opponents numbered 144.
Here are excerpts from some of the testimony of DBA board and staff.
Cindy Leitner, board member, owner of LDS Inc., Chilton, a dairy equipment and supplies dealer
“In addition to my connection to dairy farmers, I am also a lakefront homeowner (in Manitowoc County) and the president of our lake association. … I understand people’s deep connections to their property and their lakes. In Section 4, there is an option for short-term relief for lakes struggling with highly variable or low water levels. That allows lake associations to make use of groundwater pumping to stabilize lake levels. Cedar Lake, where my home is, drilled a high-capacity well in 1972, and has maintained lake levels since that time.”
Cody Heller, board member, Heller Farm Inc., CWAS, Alma Center
“My dairy does not have a high-cap well, as most dairy farms don’t… I have at least 30 years left to work and live in the dairy industry. Thus, sustainability is important for our dairy and all farmers. … For us, as an industry, sustainability does not just pertain to production. It means sustaining the environment as well. It is important to my family and the dairy industry to ensure that we are environmentally sustainable and stewards of the environment.”
Nicole Barlass, director of member relations
“I have dedicated my life to helping further Wisconsin agriculture and our state’s dairy community. Like me, I know there are people on these committees that care a great deal about agriculture. Some of you are former farmers, some are from farm families like mine, one of you is a former veterinarian, and many others simply represent agricultural areas. If you care about Wisconsin agriculture, including dairy farms, I urge you support this legislation.”
Tom Crave, board member, Crave Brothers Farm & Farmstead Cheese, Waterloo, Wis.
“These wells are absolutely essential to businesses like ours. There is no good reason that high-capacity wells like ours cannot be repaired or replaced without a second DNR permitting process. Similarly, one day our farm and factory and the wells that go with them will be transferred to the next generation of my family. There is no environmental reason why that transfer should require a new permit or review.