Letter to the Editor: Searching for Solutions for Manure Problems

Community leaders are searching to uncover solutions to difficult farm problems impacting livelihoods in Kewaunee and Door Counties. I take issue with Representative Joel Kitchens’s blanket statement that letters of opinion do not represent truth, this promotes dissent in a community searching for solutions to difficult problems. To offer praise for his work is not yet warranted since problem solutions have not yet been achieved.

[It] is difficult to be a farmer of land regulated with requirements for operations that often unfairly affect cost and methods that do not always make sense. For example: manure pits, with high build cost, but deemed necessary to handle liquids. What about lessening water usage such that manure pit requirements may be reduced. Now the farmer must develop more cash flow that requires larger herd size, on and on. And if you come to Kewaunee County you will see the results of this path. It profits the agri-chemical and pharmaceutical industry while the farmer sinks further in debt. It reminds of the days of the blue harvester. It is unfortunate, if lower cost, simple alternatives are available, such as aerobic treatment, but do not meet the stringent control of industry and politics.

Is aerobic treatment of waste product better suited to sensitive recreational areas such as Door County? And if so, then why would this not be better suited to people also living in Kewaunee County?

Aerobic treatment offers low odors, operates at higher temperatures for pathogen destruction and produces a valuable compost material as compared to anaerobic treatment. Why not issue a monetary grant to S&S Ag Enterprises to develop a cleaner, more friendly aerobic process to treat waste manure? A more efficient vacuum waste removal process could be employed, significantly reducing water usage. Aerobic treatment practice uses existing equipment. A robotically operated tractor to maintain aerobic windrows, further reduces cost. Is this a no brainer? I don’t know, but it has been demonstrated, and we need a better way than the path chosen today.

The CAFO industry operates under rules developed more for family farm type operations. Herd size is out of control and far out exceeds the capacity of the natural system to support the waste product.

In Kewaunee County, further extension of anaerobic waste treatment is being considered that will develop a mega-anaerobic digester to treat farm waste product at a central processing facility. This facility would then generate and convert methane gas to a compressible natural gas to be connected to the natural gas pipelines. It is unknown what consequence this mega-digester will have upon the people in Kewaunee County but that does not seem important to the regulatory and political system.

Maybe the farm operation should concentrate more on better food production practice rather than spilling into the industry of energy production.

Tom Cretney

Kewaunee County, Wis.