In a decision issued last week, Administrative Law Judge Jeffrey Boldt removed a major obstacle to the construction of the Richfield Dairy by resolving challenges to two high capacity wells permits and a WPDES permit according to DairyBusiness Update Daily.
Milk Source LLC, the owners of the proposed Richfield Dairy site in rural Adams County, first requested the permits in 2011. The well permits and the WPDES permit were issued in November 2012. This decision marks what should be the end of a three-year-long struggle to make the improvements necessary to build the dairy farm. Family-owned Milk Source is a global leader in the dairy industry with multiple farms in Wisconsin and Michigan.
Despite claims made by environmental groups, Judge Boldt concluded the dairy should be allowed to move forward after considering scientific testimony regarding the wells’ potential impact. Judge Boldt also rejected challenges to the proposed farm’s WPDES permit, which is issued by the Department of Natural Resources to protect water quality. The WPDES decision overwhelmingly reasserted the effectiveness of the WPDES CAFO permit program, and will reassure Wisconsin dairy farmers that they can rely on the permits that they have already been granted and provide their farms with much needed certainty.
“The focus on groundwater in this case was really just a proxy fight for activists trying to stop the growth of dairy farming in Wisconsin,” explained Dairy Business Association Director of Dairy Policy Laurie Fischer. “I am glad that the judge handling this case sided with progress.”
Wisconsin has lost over 1,000 dairy farms in the last two years. The number of new dairy developments has stagnated as well. This makes the approval of this dairy’s proposed wells and WPDES permit all the more important. “Wisconsin needs Richfield Dairy and other new farms like it if we want our state to continue to be America’s Dairyland,” said Fischer.