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Wisconsin factory farm to pay $100,000 settlement to state

September 25, 2013

Staff Report

ALGOMA, Wis. — A stipulation entered in Kewaunee County Circuit Court Sept. 12 resulted in $100,000 in fines levied against Keith Duescher, owner of the former “Legendairy Farms” concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO).

After nearly 10 years of violations that subjected neighbors, wetlands and Lake Michigan to manure runoff contamination and toxic emissions, the defendant (Duescher) has stipulated to the facts in evidence and the fine levied by the State of Wisconsin.

Scott Wittkopf, chairman of the Forward Institute in Wisconsin, said: “This case is a stark illustration of how factory farms in Wisconsin are a threat to people who simply wish to live free to breathe clean air and have clean water to drink. Factory farm oversight and accountability to the people of Wisconsin is absolutely necessary to ensure quality of life and quality of our local farms.”

The state case outlined violations committed by Duescher and Legendairy Farms resulting in significant impact to the community and the environment beginning in 2004, including the following:

1. Manure runoff discharged into navigable waters that feed into Lake Michigan, resulting in a significant threat to water quality in the Great Lakes and local tributaries.

2. The failure of Duescher to comply with permit and monitoring requirements posed a significant threat to public and environmental health.

3. Duescher compromised, damaged or destroyed numerous wetland habitats, even after multiple contacts with Department of Natural Resources (DNR) specialists instructing him to remove material discharged into those wetlands.

4. The open burning of a demolished barn and plastic containers resulted in airborne emission of dioxin and asbestos, two highly toxic and hazardous chemicals.

5. A second open burning incident occurred eight months after Duescher had been warned by DNR against open pit burning.

The full text of the stipulation and order can be read at https://docs.google.com/a/forwardinstitutewi.org/file/d/0B-t_JgFcNmKgVmNUYURCcEFwazg/edit.

Wisconsin’s legislature and state agencies have created rules and accountability for a good reason, and this case is an illustration of why,” Wittkopf said. “We need continued oversight of factory farms and their practices for three important reasons. First, we have a fundamental right to live our lives with clean water and air. Second, our food supply needs to be safe and clean. Finally, factory farms engaging in unscrupulous practices without regard for their negative impact on people, land and water are a scar on the long heritage of the Wisconsin family farm as part of the community.

While we appreciate the efforts of the Wisconsin Department of Justice and Department of Natural Resources beginning to enforce the law, there is much more work to be done in this area,” Wittkopf added. “There is a significant amount of research demonstrating the need for oversight and enforcement of CAFO operations.”

Duescher’s “Legendairy Farms” is now owned and operated by Ebert Dairy Enterprises LLC of Algoma, Wis.

From the Sept. 25-Oct. 1, 2013, issue

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