DNR Requires Groundwater Monitoring at Kinnard Farms

DNR press release

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) modified the Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) permit for Kinnard Farms to require groundwater monitoring on farm fields. The modification is effective during the current permit term, which expires in January 2023.

According to a press release from the DNR, the department issued a draft permit modification for Kinnard Farms on Dec. 3, 2021, and it received considerable public input during the comment period and hearing. Based on information received during the public comment period, the department determined groundwater monitoring of manure land spreading sites is warranted and practical at a minimum of two land spreading sites. 

The permit also caps the number of cows on the farm at 7,950, similar to the existing size of the farm. 

In July 2021, the Wisconsin Supreme Court issued an opinion in Clean Wisconsin, Inc. vs. DNR, concluding that the department has the authority to include terms in a CAFO permit that ensure compliance with effluent limitations and water-quality standards. The permit modification is required as part of a farm-specific settlement agreement that hinged on this Wisconsin Supreme Court opinion. 

According to the settlement agreement, the department must set an animal unit cap and determine whether groundwater monitoring of land spreading fields is warranted.

By law, CAFO permits require farms to demonstrate they have adequate manure storage capacity for the number of animals at a facility and adequate land base to manage manure and process wastewater, meeting nutrient management plan requirements established by the DNR; the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection; and the Wisconsin Natural Resources Conservation Service. In addition, the law requires a CAFO permit to include the permittee’s reasonable projection of the maximum animal units during a permit term.