Kewaunee County farmers are calling for unity

KEWAUNEE COUNTY, WIS. (WBAY) - About 100 farmers came together in Kewaunee County on Tuesday looking for unity. The area is under scrutiny because of water quality issues many believe are caused by mega farms. It's a story we've been following for a few years now.

As we've reported, Kewaunee County is the first in the state to regulate the application of liquid manure and other agricultural waste-water. This summer, a federal study found 40 Kewaunee County wells had evidence of contamination much higher than anywhere else in the state.

Lee Kinnard in front of dozens of fellow farmers asked for unity and better communication on Tuesday.

“If we are after clean water, if we are after a strong community, I live on the farm, my family lives right on the farm, I want those exact same things, I don't see where these stories really diverge, in my mind it's the same goals we should be working together,” said Kinnard.

Many farmers said they need to do a better job showing other people their commitment to the environment.

“What we're really about is hard work, we're changing centuries old farming practices using science, using new technology, using new information that we're helping to collect to find a better way to protect the shallow delicate environment that we all live and operate on,” said Don Niles of Peninsula Pride Farms.

An example of change is keeping the fields green in the Fall, not bare, in order to preserve nutrients come Spring.

“All of the farmers are here today to show support, we're all in this together, and this is our environment, we live here with everybody else, and we want to make sure we're doing the best job possible,” said Nathen Nysse, an independent crop consultant with Tilth Agonomy.

The gathering on Tuesday preceded a meeting by the DNR which collected comments about the water discharge permits for five large farms in the area.