Dairy Groups Question Non-Renewal Of CAFO Permit

Wisconsin Dairy Alliance and Venture Dairy Cooperative along with Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce have submitted comments to the DNR questioning their decision to do away with a CAFO General Permit.

“We hear time and again from the DNR that the CAFO program is understaffed and underfunded and that’s why permit renewals are behind, but then they voluntarily layer on additional red tape to the process,” says Kim Bremmer, executive director of Venture Dairy Cooperative. “It makes us wonder if their claims of being inadequately resourced have any merit. The general permit is used by other industries but is now unavailable just for farms. When we’ve asked why this is we get no response.”

The groups criticized the decision for a number of reasons:

  • The DNR lacks statutory authority for this action.
  • The lack of transparency associated with this policy change.
  • The DNR’s ongoing pattern of seeking higher fees and more regulations on CAFOs, while ignoring tools (like this one) to minimize red tape.
  • The implication of this determination for other WPDES general permits issued by the DNR.

“DNRs claim that this change will only affect a small number of farmers is only because DNR has pushed nearly all farms to the more cumbersome individual permit,” says Cindy Leitner, president of Wisconsin Dairy Alliance. “This individual permit forces the DNR to spend additional time and additional cost on each permit renewal while not adding any environmental benefit. Conversely, the general permit provides more predictability and certainty for both CAFOs and DNR staff.”