Letter to the Editor: Actions Speak Louder than Words

The folly of choosing one of the more egregious polluters in both Door & Kewaunee County as the face and mouthpiece for the Peninsula Pride Farm organization – was not well thought out by PPF and diminishes its credibility. In a county suffering from a third of its tested wells contaminated by high nitrates, e. coli, or both; a community where Judge Jeffrey Boldt called the situation “deplorable…massive regulatory failure” – to come out of the gate as a Prideful group seems a little premature, or in the very least, oblivious to the state of affairs in our region of the state, and those most grievously affected.

Are there good, prideful farmers in the Peninsula Pride? Most certainly, although non-disclosure of the farm membership leaves that up for interpretation.

Public relations? Similar farmers groups are popping up all over the nation as industrial agriculture continues to tank in the court of public opinion, in recognition that over 80 percent of our runoff pollution is attributed to agricultural practices.

In the Pulse Jan. 13, 2016 article, Peninsula Pride President, Don Niles states, “You just get into that thing where farmers and environmentalists lob insults at each other from their trenches. That wasn’t honorable and it wasn’t productive.”

The “environmentalists” of Kewaunee County consist of property home owners concerned with plunging home values; mothers and fathers concerned with their children’s health, as well as their own; all citizens who consume the necessary drink, water; and all citizens concerned with their quality of life. They are not a group of grumbling, complaining “anti-farming” people, “lobbing insults,” as they have been tagged, along with references of being “radical” or “activists.” These are citizens living in Kewaunee County who have proactively spent a considerable amount of personal time and money seeking solutions, including permit challenges to operations; citizens who have taken on the tasks of water sampling impaired rivers, tributaries, and violating discharges; who have taken on the duties of policing and documenting what is going on where they live, forming citizen groups such as Kewaunee CARES, Citizens Advocating Responsible Environmental Stewardship, to create awareness and educate those where we live; have spent numerous hours, spanning multiple years in various workgroups, including the state manure workgroup [three-year process], and the DNR/EPA/stakeholder workgroups which are now heading into their second year, to address the practices that poison and contaminate where we live. These same citizens have petitioned the EPA through the Safe Drinking Water Act, and filed the Petition for corrective Action [PCA], stating that the EPA should possibly take over for the defunct DNR, which is not fulfilling its duties under the Clean Water Act.

What is not “honorable” is infants in intensive care due to e. coli poisoning; what is not honorable is eight families being displaced from their homes due to a 76-million gallon manure lagoon setting up in the neighborhood; what is not honorable is our Land and Water Chair and the Peninsula Pride president costing Town of Lincoln over 14 thousand dollars as the town protected its people from the threats of spray irrigation of manure, in an ordinance ban – these businessmen opposed. What is not honorable is manure flowing from a Luxemburg family’s tap in October, 2016. What is not honorable is the grotesque sheer negligence of continued violations, and manure spills, by habitual abusers, who do not receive enforcement or fines for their behaviors.

I am one of the people who will not applaud, nor laud the Peninsula Pride Farm group—until actual results become visible in our community.

The funds flowing to this group are taxpayer monies, coming from Dept. of Ag, Trade and Consumer Protection. If seeking public trust, disclosure of the group, its members and businesses, which includes the Dairy Business Association, should be disclosed to the public from the Peninsula Pride membership.

Tom Brey stated, “I think actions are going to speak louder than words.” We agree.

Somehow the “environmentalists” – the “citizens” in Kewaunee County – have been left with the responsibility and burden of cleanup, with taxpayer monies, for an industry whose mismanagement has poisoned and polluted the landscape, our water, and threatened our health. These “environmentalists” are those seeking democracy and clean water where they live; striving to protect their health, homes & futures; citizens seeking social and environmental justice where they live.

Only time will determine Peninsula Pride’s merits. Will these same farms implement the rulings made in court for animal herd caps and monitoring wells? Or will they continue to appeal in court these safeguards for our community?

Actions speak louder than words.

Nancy Utesch, Kewaunee CARES Co-founder

Kewaunee, Wis.