Dairy Business Association files lawsuit against DNR

GREEN BAY, Wis (WBAY) -- The Dairy Business Association is trying to keep the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources in check through a lawsuit seeking to stop the agency from overreaching its authority.

The dairy group filed the lawsuit last Monday against the DNR.

It centers on how the agency implements new regulations without going through an approval process required by state law.

The lawsuit states: "This case seeks to put an end to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources’ (“DNR”) practice of enforcing blatantly illegal rules related to the permitting and operation of large Wisconsin livestock farms."

The lawsuit deals specifically with rule changes to how farmers manage rainwater that comes in contact with feed storage or calf hutch areas. Right now, farmers use vegetation to control runoff, but the DNR is looking to change that.

“Now [the DNR] believe[s] that this treatment process of using a vegetative treatment area to treat this water before it eventually leaves the farm is inadequate, and they want us to go to full collection of the water of our silage pit,” says Gordon Speirs, a dairy farmer and member of the Dairy Business Association.

The DBA argues the DNR did not follow proper procedure for changing that regulation.

“If they want to bring new regulations, there’s a legal, lawful process that they’re required to do to bring those requirements to the farmer, to the community,” Speirs says.

The lawsuit comes amid ongoing concerns in Kewaunee County, where groundwater has been contaminated. That’s why some are concerned about parts of the lawsuit that ask for current regulations to be changed, specifically those that affect groundwater.

"To weaken ... The proposed regulations that are coming forward, I just think that it's really important that knowing what we know now about the groundwater, and how quickly it can be contaminated, with both human and bovine waste when it's applied improperly, this is not the time to weaken the regulations,” says Lee Luft, a Kewaunee County Board Supervisor.

Action 2 News reached out to the DNR, but were told the agency does not comment on pending litigation.

To see the full lawsuit, click here.