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Farms Not Factories March Newsletter


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F O L L O W on F A C E B O O K
S E N D an E M A I L

Notes From The Field


Dear Friend of Farms Not Factories, 

According to the calendar, spring has sprung and judging from the warm sunshine and the rapidly deteriorating ice, I think it's true. Spring also means the Wisconsin State Legislature is in session and judging from what we've seen so far, it's going to be a busy session. And that means Wisconsin citizens need to be engaged, watchful and educated about the changes afoot in Madison! 

For example, I went through the DNR WPDES (CAFO permit) database a few weeks ago and created a spreadsheet with all the expired CAFO permits in WI. And guess what?? 93 of the 291 permits for WI CAFOs are expired (nearly 32%).  That means there are at least 333,930 Animal Units, or nearly 334 million pounds of cows, pigs, turkeys and chickens, producing manure with an expired permit in Wisconsin. 

In addition, Farms Not Factories submitted written testimony to the Legislative Audit Committee regarding the June 2016 Legislative Audit Bureau's report on the DNR's wastewater permitting and enforcement program.

These are examples of the lack of oversight by the DNR when it comes to CAFOs in WI. And I lay the responsibility for this alarming and wholly unacceptable situation at the feet of our elected officials in Madison. They have the power (by providing funds and direction to the DNR) to rectify this situation and they choose NOT to protect citizens from the rampant CAFO pollution poisoning rural communities because they are doing the bidding of Big Ag at the Capitol.

I've included a number of ways you can help in this newsletter...everything from a World Water Call-In Day to a Spring Runoff Art Show to an Informational Meeting About a Northern Wisconsin Organizing Cooperative. I hope you find something that suits you -- we need all hands on deck! 

As always, thank you for your support, 

World Water Day Call-In Event March 22nd

World Water Day is an annual event celebrated on March 22. The day focuses attention on the importance of fresh water and advocates for the sustainable management of freshwater resources. Wisconsin's citizens are uniting to protect and care for Wisconsin's water resources by actively engaging with elected officials across all levels of government. 

What better day to hit our elected officials with hundreds of phone calls regarding water concerns right here in Wisconsin than on World Water Day!

We've made a list .... checked it twice.  It's time to find out who was naughty or nice!
Linked below is a list of our WI Legislators ranked in order using information from the League of Conservation Voters Scorecard regarding voting history on conservation and water issues.  We have placed those with the WORST track records at the top of the list!  These should be your first calls on World Water Day to let them know you are watching and that you expect better representation on our water issues.

2017 Legislator Rankings on Water Issues

Also linked below are pre-written talking scripts with step by step directions for those who are not quite sure how to get started or what to say.  We have made it as easy as possible for folks to engaged in the process and to take the first steps to being a Wisconsin Water Advocate.  

Tips for Calling Elected Officials
Pre-Written Phone Scripts 

Together we can all make a difference.  Our Legislators need to hear over and over again that Water Knows No Boundaries and they need to listen to ALL Wisconsin citizens when voting on water issues and legislation.

Plan now with your local organizations and grassroots group to join the hundreds across the state who have committed to participate in the World Water Day Statewide Call-In Event!  Make sure your area and your concerns are heard by all!

Northern Wisconsin Citizens' Organizing Cooperative Meeting March 23rd

Dynamic political change requires an equally dynamic and engaged citizenry but the question of where to begin is a big one. A non-partisan citizens' organizing cooperative is a great place to start as we work towards a vibrant Northern Wisconsin community. 

Most other advocacy/issue-based organizations are accountable to the groups that fund them which usually means they are not able to be responsive to our needs and wants. But if WE own and direct the organization then WE will be heard and our actions will reflect our priorities. 

And that's what makes a citizens' organizing cooperative different than the traditional advocacy groups -- it's funded and directed by the member-owners. The cooperative fees go towards hiring a paid organizer who is accountable to the member-owners and ensures that our priorities are front and center. 

Jeff Smith, former state representative and organizer for the Western WI Organizing Cooperative, will provide the basic framework for the cooperative model, share his experiences as an organizer and answer your questions. 

For more information, take a look at the Citizen Action website:

Hope you can join us at the Northern Great Lakes Visitors Center on Thursday March 23rd at 6:30!

CAFO Panel Hosted by the Chequamegon Democrats at Northland College March 28th

 The Chequamegon Democrats are hosting a CAFO Panel Discussion on Tuesday March 28th at 7 PM.

The panel will include:
- Mary Dougherty, Co-Founder of Farms Not Factories and Regional Consultant for Socially Responsible Agriculture Project 
- Duane Popple, Retired Wastewater Specialist for the WI DNR 
- Robert Schlack, Emeritus Professor of Economics at Carthage College.

David Saetre will be moderating the discussion.

The discussion will be held in the Commons on the second floor of the Ponzio Campus Center at the Northland College Campus. The event may be moved to the Sigrud Olson Environmental Institute Sentry Room, please check here for updates. 

This Event is open to the public and everyone is invited to attend!

League of Conservation Voters Lobby Day in Madison on March 29th

March 29th is another great opportunity to connect with your state legislators to share your concerns on numerous water and conservation issues. Criste Greening and I are hosting a break-out session about CAFOs, the issues with excess manure and information about local ordinances that have been passed around the state to protect local communities.

This year the Conservation Lobby Day will focus on the following topics. (Please see links provided for detailed information):
Manure in drinking water
County conservationist funding
Lead in drinking water
Preserving our state parks

Be sure to register in advance for Conservation Lobby Day at the following link: REGISTER HERE

Chequamegon Bay Arts Council Spring Runoff Show Closing Reception and Awards Ceremony March 30th 

The Chequamegon Bay Arts Council - CBAC Spring Show, in collaboration with Farms Not Factories is open and runs through March 30th at the Washburn Cultural Center. The Cultural Center is open Wednesday through Saturday 10 AM - 3 PM.

Please join us for the closing reception and awards ceremony March 30 at 5 PM. .

Artists utilize the power of art to promote education and social change on a topic that is close to home: the importance of clean water. It’s time to get to work for our community, especially with the changes proposed with the current administration. 

Water connects us…to Lake Superior, to the rivers and streams ending in the Lake, to the towns on the rivers…and on and on. Water holds us up. Water hydrates. Water irrigates. Water baptizes. Water cleanses. Clean water is essential. 

As the snow & ice melts in the spring and movement begins again in the streams and on the Lakes- a new season begins- all that was dormant regrows, stretches out and reaches for the sun.

And here it is: Our community artists sharing a “Spring Runoff” arts narrative with our community. 

Sierra Club Lake Superior Meet and Greet at the Blue Wave on March 31st

Please join us for a Sierra Club Lake Superior Meet and Greet at the Blue Wave Restaurant in Ashland on March 31st at 6 PM. 

— Elizabeth Ward, Sierra Club Program Director, will provide an overview of Sierra Club activities throughout Wisconsin
— Lee Balek, Sierra Club Executive Committee Board Member, will discuss Sierra Club’s desire to have an active presence in northern Wisconsin 
— Mary Dougherty, co-founder of Farms Not Factories and Regional Consultant for Socially Responsible Agriculture Project, will discuss the threats to Lake Superior by the proposed CAFO, the importance of collaboration among advocacy groups, and citizen engagement. 

This event is free and open to the public. Blue Wave is located at 2521 Lake Shore Dr W, Ashland, WI 54806.

Pay-For-Play SB 76/AB 105 "Death By 1,000 Straws" Legislation in Madison

The high-capacity well legislation, SB 76/AB 105, is currently in committee in Madison and it's imperative that citizens continue to write and call their state representatives to register their opposition to SB 76/AB 105. This legislation is a classic example of agribusiness's pay-for-play influence in Madison (Urban Milwaukee article  and Wisconsin Democracy Campaign article) and we believe these bills are likely to cause great harm to the waters of Wisconsin. 

These bills recieved a hearing on March 15th and faced tremendous citizen opposition. At this time, it's unclear if our elected officials listened to our concerns, only time will tell as this bill continues to move forward.  Please continue to call or email our elected officials in Madison and let them know you expect them to protect our water.

Provided below is a quick link to the actual bills, a detailed bullet list of concerns, Farms Not Factories  submitted written testimony, as well as a link to all Senate and Assembly Representative emails in a quick "Copy and Paste" format.  

Senate Bill 76 
Assembly Bill 105 
Points of concern
FNF SB 76 Written Testimony 
FNF AB 105 Written Testimony 
2017 Elected Officials Contact Document

Bottom line regarding this bill is that periodic review of high capacity wells and the DNR’s ability to condition high capacity well permits is essential to protect our beautiful Wisconsin waters.  It is now up to you to take action. Contact your state elected officials and voice your concerns today.

We recommend that you focus on only one or two topics from the supplied bullet list and write your personal message to your local representatives.  Then, please forward on your message to all elected officials.  Although you may get many return messages stating that you are not a particular “representative's constituent”, your opposition still becomes part of the public record and is recorded. All elected officials voting on this bill need to see and hear the opposition to it from around the state.  

Water knows no boundaries and neither should our elected officials when voting on water legislation.

Vote YES for Water at the Annual Spring Conservation Congress Meeting in April

DNR holds its annual Spring Conservation Congress at 7 p.m., Monday, 10 April 2017. Please attend or vote absentee on important natural resources issues.

Questions #66 & 67 address DNR deficiencies under the Clean Water Act.

Question #69 corrects the problem of  “authority.” With Iowa’s Dale Reicks proposed 26,000 hog CAFO proposed near Lake Superior and his 10,000,000 gallons of hog manure (annually), Ashland’s Mayor asked DNR to suspend the application to study threats to drinking water. DNR wrote, “You must understand that if the owner of the facility meets all statutory and administrative code requirements, the Department cannot deny him a permit.” Let’s ensure DNR gets that authority from the legislature by voting YES on #69.

This link will show you where the meeting in your County will be located and lists the questions to review and print in advance.

On or before 10 April 2017, you can vote ABSENTEE by

  1. going into a DNR service stations and marking up a copy of the questionnaire; or
  2. emailing your vote for each question with your name and address to; or
  3. printing the questionnaire with your answers and mailing them to:

Department of Natural Resources
Scott Loomans, FH/4
101 South Webster Street
Madison, WI 53707-7921

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