Rosendale Dairy received approval from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to expand their dairy herd to full capacity effective March 1.
After completing the review of an environmental impact statement, the DNR granted final approval of a Wisconsin Pollution Discharge Elimination System (WPDES) permit to Rosendale Dairy. The dairy, located near Rosendale in western Fond du Lac County, will now be able to grow their current herd of 700 cows up to their goal of 4,000 cows. In a year, the owners plan to expand to 8,000 cows which will make the dairy the largest in Wisconsin.
Rosendale Dairy is owned in a partnership between established dairymen Jim Ostrom, John Vosters and Todd Willer.
"The approval of Rosendale Dairy's permit is a positive move for Wisconsin's dairy industry and for our state's economy. We are pleased that the DNR recognized the dairy's many efforts to protect the environment and public health by approving this $70 million project," said Laurie Fischer, executive director of the Dairy Business Association (DBA).
In addition to the WPDES permit, Rosendale Dairy sought and obtained 32 other permits that were required to construct and operate the facility.
WFU not pleased
Wisconsin Farmers Union President Sue Beitlich expressed her disappointment in the DNR approving a permit for the expansion of Rosendale Dairy.
"I am extremely disappointed that plans to expand the Rosendale Dairy have been approved. We have yet to fully understand the environmental and economic ramifications of a CAFO of this size. The groundwater contamination and air pollution produced by Rosendale will be unprecedented in Wisconsin. When Rosendale Dairy's plans are completed, they will produce 75 million gallons of manure per year and match the waste produced by the City of Green Bay," Beitlich says.
"While Wisconsin's family farmers are facing rock-bottom milk prices as a result of a milk surplus, this operation plans to milk another 7,000 cows. The demands on the local infrastructure as well as the strain on the dairy industry caused by the Rosendale CAFO have not yet been thoroughly examined. Dairy plants are flush with milk right now and most are not accepting new patrons. A dairy of this size could displace our family farmers who have been farming and raising their family for several generations on their farm, who have been mindful of our environment and who have been an active part of their local community," she continued. "This is not a positive move for Wisconsin's dairy industry nor for our economy."
Beitlich said Wisconsin needs to change its policies to "prevent a hijacking of Wisconsin's rural communities and agricultural heritage.
"We need to ask ourselves if this type of large-scale expansion is the direction Wisconsin wants to move toward. WFU members say 'No' and ask for change," Beitlich says. "In Rosendale, local zoning ordinances carried no restrictions on CAFOs so Wisconsin Livestock Siting rules did not get challenged. WFU calls on local towns and counties to develop land-use planning and zoning rules that prevent creation and expansion of large-scale facilities like Rosendale. WFU further asks the state to re-evaluate whether the Livestock Siting Board is the best system for balancing the protection of farmers' rights with the rights of the community and the environment."
WFU also calls for stricter regulations under the Federal Clean Water Act that limit the environmental impact of CAFOs, she said.
"There are more than 50 CAFO permits pending in Wisconsin and now that Rosendale is approved, we hope it does not set a precedent, but that each is at least considered for its own merits," she says. "The Clean Water Act rules do not prohibit the facilities from being built, only that they cannot 'populate' until the permits are approved. The DNR was acting within the rules of the Clean Water Act in issuing this permit; however those rules should be strengthened. This is a serious, multi-faceted issue that needs to be quickly resolved," Beitlich concluded.
• Rosendale Dairy is approved to expand dairy to 4,000 cows.
• Their plan calls for doubling the herd to 8,000 cows in 2010.
• WFU President Sue Beitlich opposes dairy's expansion.