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Manure is mum at Land Conservation
LAFAYETTE COUNTY LAND Conservation Committee during a tense moment at the meeting. (l to r) Melissa Bartz, Max Blackbourn, Kriss Marion, Micah Bahr and with his back to the camera Dave Hodgson.

DARLINGTON – The controversial issue of the manure storage ordinance seems to have come to an abrupt end at the Land Conservation Committee on Monday, Feb. 5.
    When the January minutes were asked to be approved, Micah Bahr, committee member, noticed in the minutes, that manure storage was listed to be on future agendas. Bahr asked chairman David Hammer why manure storage is not on this meetings agenda. Hammer answered, “Because some of these items we don’t need anymore. Like manure storage – that’s history. We have two items from Ms. Kriss (Kriss Marion), so we’ll go from there.”
    Then at the end of the meeting the subject was brought up again by Dave Hodgson, Farm Service Agency (FSA) representative. He asked, “Just to clarify, where are we sitting with manure storage ordinance from last meeting?”
    Hammer responded, “I cannot see putting that on the agenda anymore after this individual (Micah Bahr) wrote a letter to the Republican Journal. I’m tired of him complaining, so we’ll just leave the ordinance the way it is.”
    Bahr asked, “Is that your decision to make? Last time we discussed it, we were supposed to have a proposed ordinance sent to us within two weeks for us to review. I thought that’s the way it was left, and now, all of a sudden it’s left off the agenda. So if you don’t like my letter to the editor in December, you really won’t like my next letter on this subject.”
    Hammer rebutted, “That’s fine with me.”
    Bahr said, “You have a right to write an opposing view.”
    Hodgson continued, “Again, just to clarify, this is just a dead issue.”
    Hammer said, “Yes.”
    Kriss Marion, committee and county board member, was given three minutes to explain that Wisconsin Land and Water would have a resolution presented at their conference. Marion is suggesting that Lafayette County Land Conservation sign on to the resolution, so the counties will have a unified voice. The resolution is for the State to support Groundwater Programs. On behalf of all counties, they encourage that the state legislature make available additional resources for counties to plan and implement groundwater programming that will be for better understanding, protection and utilization of our groundwater and drinking water supplies.
    Marion said, “This is regarding the concerns that so many county’s have, that groundwater supplies are in trouble. Rock County just received a report from their health department that stated 30 percent of private wells exceed the health advisory level for nitrates, in their county. We don’t have any information since we have not done a lot of studying of wells. This resolution is asking for funding to study it.”
    Marion made a motion that Lafayette County show their support for groundwater programs and that the committee agree with the resolution that will come up at the Wisconsin Land and Water conference.
    John Bartels, committee and county board member, said, “The thing of it is, that none of us know much about it. Except, I do know the state handles this stuff. Why are you trying to bring this in to this county? The state handles this, if there are any problems they would come in and take care of it. The rest of us on this committee don’t know anything about it. I make a motion that we table this.”
    Marion said, “What do you need to educate yourself about this? Last meeting I brought five articles about these concerns. This week I passed around a study on Wisconsin counties…”
    Bartels interrupted stating, “We don’t care about the other counties. All we care about is this county and this county will take care of this county. We don’t know enough about this stuff to just bring this about today. I think this needs to be tabled and further studied. So I make a motion that we table this.”
    It was pointed out that there was a motion already on the table to accept this resolution. Bahr seconded the motion.
    Marion asked, “Is there confusion about what this resolution is? This is to ask the state to fund groundwater studies in all the counties of Wisconsin.” Marion held up a map of Wisconsin that showed a coliform bacteria study that found Lafayette County tested positive in 15 percent to 25 percent of the wells. UW–Oshkosh, conducted the study.
     “We are the reddest in the state for coliform and yet we have not done any serious looking into groundwater. We can’t afford it, so this is asking the state for help,” she added,
    Hammer asked for a roll call vote. The vote went: James – yes, Wolfe – yes, Hodgson – yes, Bahr – yes, Marion – yes, Bartels – no and Hammer – no. Approved 5-2.
Wedig Statement
    Joe Wedig, farmer in Lafayette County, addressed the committee with a prewritten statement. He started by saying; “I appreciate all you do on this committee for the county. There is a lot of conversation about what this committee is doing.”
    Wedig continued with his statement saying, “There is not a cookie cutter fix here, every farmer is different. We need a general set of guidelines for everybody to adhere to, and not target any certain group of farmers. Be careful about the guidelines that we want to put into practice, they may come back to haunt the every day farmers. This may go as far as, the manure thing and the confinement that we may not have the ability to have free range chickens, turkeys or grass fed beef, and where does it stop? If the guidelines continue to be put into action, this may put this part of Lafayette County’s economic engine out-of-business. If farmers are restricted and their costs are too high and they can’t control certain regulations, you may see future generations disappear. This committee needs to embrace proactive practices and testing, rather than regulations. Regulations will kill us.”
    “The ag industry is in a rough economic environment right now. We must do all we can to keep everybody in agriculture with opportunities to continue. Rules and regulations are not the answer, showing everybody involved the options to fix the problems that exist is the answer. This committee needs a superior laid out set of plans to tackle this and embrace the people involved in this, to help adopt the changes. This is a great area to live in, it has been for ages and with careful management, it will continue to prosper.” Wedig thanked the committee.
     Hammer brought up an article he saw that stated western Wisconsin has the highest bankruptcy rate in the nation. “That’s scary,” he said.
    In other business:
    •Melissa Bartz gave a report on USDA programs, including: working on CRP-CREP programs; burn plans for CRP land; 30 EQIP contracts approved; Over $500,000 has been spent on RCPP, most of those will be cover crops or ripp-rapp, most are three to five year programs; honey bee initiative, where cover crops are used that benefit the honey bees and other pollinators; a new Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) sign-up is until March 2; Earth Day at Woodford Park is Wednesday, April 18.
    • Max Blackbourn, Conservation Technician, gave his report. Doing a lot of surveying and planning.
    •Monica Yates-Olsen will have a report at the next Land Conservation meeting.
    •Marion had a handout regarding what other municipalities are doing for groundwater protection. Marion said, “We are a lovely rural place to live and I think that protecting our groundwater for future generations of farmers and residents is an important part of that. I think we should work on this for future meetings.”
    •Approved naming the Land Conservation science award at the fair – the Al Brandt Science Award, Brandt’s family will sponsor the award. Land Conservation would sponsor a different award having to do with environmental, science.
    •Discussed the Wisconsin Land and Water Conservation Association, Inc. (WLWCA) conference held March 14 – 16.
    •Reposting Secretary position.