In talking with St. Croix County staff concerning the extremely high phosphorus levels on fields around Emerald Sky Dairy…..they shared that funding for cover crops and other Best Management Practices is NOT available to landowners if their acres are under a CAFO’s NMP.
…The monies dedicated for these types of BMPs is being set aside for small to medium sized farmers…..and cannot be used if land is under a CAFO NMP – even if the landowner themselves are not a CAFO.
This was very disheartening as one of the local farmers near Emerald Sky wanted to utilize cover crops and was looking for cost-sharing. The hope was if this farmer had success….then other area farmers would be willing to try this and we could perhaps make a dent in the high phosphorus readings on area fields. However, DNR said “NO” since his land is under a CAFO NMP and they don’t think taxpayers would approve of $$ going to CAFOs in this manner.
St. Croix County staff are now exploring other funding opportunities such as the Wild Rivers Conservancy (formerly St. Croix River Association). Minnesota has independent funding available through their conservation districts to help on their side of the St. Croix River watershed….however, Wisconsin does not have similar funding sources and are at the mercy of state/federal dollars only. It was shared with me that the Minnesota staff are realizing their smaller urban projects are not having a big enough effect on the river’s water quality….due to land use (or misuse) going on the Wisconsin side.
Open to other thoughts, ideas, suggestions, etc. If we don’t use cost sharing for CAFOs — then will they be required through their permits to use BMPs? How else do we combat their large footprint of environmental damage? Are landowners aware they don’t qualify for many other programs such as cost sharing if they allow their land to be utilized by a CAFO? Would that incentivize some landowners to end their CAFO contracts? Lots of questions…few if any answers.
STOP WI CAFOs