Letter to the Editor

Who wants a hog CAFO on the Kickapoo?

By Forest Jahnke, Crawford Stewardship Project

Crawford County has a long history as a beautiful and productive agricultural community, and many of us hope it remains so.

Unfortunately, extreme financial pressures, the result of corrupted government policies and rampant corporate consolidation in agriculture, have been squeezing out small and medium sized farms.

Big Ag promotes large-scale monocultures and concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) as “efficient”, “scientific”, and the only way to make a decent living producing food.
We are told that the draining of people from our rural communities and the costs to our water, air, soil and health are simply burdens we, and future generations, have to bear… or these impacts are denied and we are told that the Wisconsin DNR regulations have it under control.

We are told by the powers that be that allowing a massive pig Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) along a narrow ridge above the Kickapoo River is inevitable.
Fortunately, some of us do not believe everything we hear, and feel the call to encourage regenerative and sustainable agriculture and protect what we hold dear.

The sinkholes, caves, and springs on and around Harvest Lane show how interconnected the surface and groundwater are, and the stream monitorings already show alarming E. coli and phosphorous levels. Well tests are being conducted by concerned neighbors.

These 5,500 sows would produce enough piglets to fill 27 CAFOs with hogs to fatten, and with Iowa filling to the brim with these operations, we can expect more of them to continue popping up in Southwest Wisconsin, if we continue to allow it. Are you within 50 miles of Southern Crawford County? These piglets and their manure, and everything that goes with that, could become your neighbors.

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services estimates 47% of WI wells already do not meet health standards, hundreds of streams are being newly listed as “impaired” by the Wisconsin DNR.

We are working with local governments, non-profits, and agricultural organizations to launch a Driftless Area Water Study to determine local drinking water quality. Perhaps it is time we consider a moratorium on more of these operations until we can assure the people of this state that their right to clean drinking water can be protected.

At the recent Marietta Township special meeting on the proposed hog CAFO, Crawford Stewardship Project was there to help answer questions, ask a few of our own, and support the voices of the local residents and the watershed.

If you care deeply about the Kickapoo River, area drinking water, and the future of our agricultural landscape, feel free to reach out to us at fjahnke@crawfordstewardship.org or 608-632-2183, and we can plug you into the action!

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