Citizens shouldn’t have to force DNR to enforce water laws

Manure-laden in Kewaunee County, WisconsinBy: Jim Goodman, Wonewoc, WI dairy farmer and FFD board member

Captimes (Madison, WI), 11/13/14

Wisconsin has over 220 dairy concentrated animal feeding operations, CAFOs, and according to the Department of Natural Resources there are about 30 more applications pending. CAFOs are required to obtain a Wisconsin Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit every five years once they reach the level of 1,000 “animal units,” or about 700 dairy cows.
Kewaunee County, near Green Bay, has 14 permitted CAFOs, giving it one of the highest livestock densities in the state.
In March 2012, Kinnard Farms, in Lincoln township in Kewaunee County, applied for a reissuance of its WPDES permit and proposed to construct new facilities that would allow it to more than double its herd size to 6,200 cattle. This number of cattle would produce over 70 million gallons of manure per year without, according to Kinnard Farms, any pollution of ground or surface water.
Impacts on the community such as noise, odor and dust damage to public highways do not need to be considered in the permitting process.
WPDES permits are supposed to protect the public. I would assume they are in keeping with the mission of the DNR to protect and enhance our natural resources, including our air, land and water; wildlife, fish and forests and the ecosystems that sustain life.
But a permit is only as good as the legal enforcement. Kinnard Farms had a history of permit violations: three notices of noncompliance for land-spreading violations, as well as a 2010 notice of violation for its overflowing manure lagoon. Still, the DNR issued the permit for Kinnard’s expansion based on incomplete information as to how Kinnard Farms planned to clean up its act.
In October 2012 neighbors of Kinnard Farms filed a petition requesting the DNR to review the permit, challenging the DNR’s issuance of a permit before the expansion plans were completed, noting that there was no limit placed on the number of cows at the dairy and no provision stipulating monitoring wells. The permit could not ensure that storage facilities and land-spreading would not result in runoff events that would pollute surface and ground water.
Kimberlee Wright, spokeswoman for Midwest Environmental Advocates, noted that while the DNR has “some very good men and women who care about Wisconsin’s water, they are very understaffed and they are under horrible political pressure to issue permits.” She also noted that there was only one person in the state dealing with CAFO permits and no staff to monitor permitted facilities.
The petitioners were asking only that laws already on the books be enforced. Midwest Environmental Advocates attorney Sarah Williams stated that “the petitioners are not trying to get rid of CAFOs, they’re not trying to stop this industrial dairy from expanding, what they want is a permit that protects their water and health.”
During the February case hearing, public testimony noted that 50 percent of the private wells tested in Lincoln township, and 30 percent of the private wells tested in Kewaunee County, were contaminated with E. coli and other contaminants. Residents cannot use water from their wells for drinking, cooking or bathing.
In his Oct. 29 decision, Judge Jefferey Boldt ordered Kinnard Farms to begin groundwater monitoring for pollutants at the building site. He ordered no less than six monitoring wells, two of which must monitor off-site land-spreading of manure. It was also ordered that a maximum number of animal units at the facility be noted on the permit.
The DNR was ordered to modify the Kinnard Farms permit to limit discharge of manure or wastewater pollutants to navigable waters.
If, as spokesman Lee Kinnard stated, Kinnard Farms is “very committed to being responsible stewards of those resources” and “passionate about being responsible farmers,” why didn’t they put the petitioners’ requests in place two years ago?
Why didn’t the DNR undertake a more thorough permitting process initially? Government agencies should not have to be forced by citizens to enforce the law.
In a state where “moving forward” means getting bigger, the environment and public health always seem to trumped by someone needing to increase their profits. We are told that economic survival depends on growth, no matter what business you are in. Personally, I don’t agree.
There is something seriously wrong with society if profit for a few is put ahead of public health.
And when the government refuses to enforce laws protecting the public, then there is something seriously wrong with the government.
Posted in Factory Farms | Comments Off

Video of 10/15/14 Food Sovereignty Prize Ceremony in Des Moines, IA

Here is a link to a video of the Food Sovereignty Prize Award ceremony in Des Moines, IA on Wed. Oct. 15th

Food Sovereignty Prize Award | OccupierKaylynn | Bambu…

Broadcast by OccupierKaylynn on
Preview by Yahoo

And here is the program of who spoke when!

7:00 PM   MCs Welcome everyone to the 6th Food Sovereignty Prize, thank the Gateway Dance Theatre, explain the program, and introduce the “mistica” to honor Charity Hicks and John Kinsman, the ancestors,   Yeshica Weerasekera and George Naylor

7:05 PM   Gateway Dancers sing and dance to open ceremony      

7:15 PM    Mistica honoring Charity Hicks and John Kinsman              Tristan Quinn-Thibodeau & Lisa Griffith
7:25 PM    Framing from USFSA/local ally    Mary Harrison & John Peck
7:45 PM    Introduction of C2C by MCs Yeshica Weerasekera and George Naylor
Award presented to C2C by Axel Fuentes, Jahi Chappel, Sharon Donovan
7:50 PM    Rosalinda and Patricio from C2C speak (with translation)              
8:10 PM    MCs thank C2C and introduce UAWC – Yeshica Weerasekera and George Naylor
Award presented to UAWC by Herschelle Milford, Daniel Maingi, Carolyn Walker, Adam Mason
8:15 PM     UAWC representative, Mr. Ali Abd ElRahman, speaks   
8:30 PM     Closing – Thank yous to Small Planet Fund, CCI, Occupy the World Food Prize, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, EcoWatch, and Gateway Dancers            Yeshica Weerasekera and George Naylor invite the winners, USFSA and local and international allies to the stage
Posted in Food Sovereignty | Comments Off

U.S. Farmworkers and Palestinian Farmers share 2014 Food Sovereignty Prize

Honorees Represent Communities Defending Their Human Rights to Food in the Face of Policies of Land and Water Grabbing, Migration, and Militarization

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  September 9, 2014

palestina.jpgDes Moines, IA — The US Food Sovereignty Alliance (USFSA) is honored to name the Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC) of Palestine, based in Gaza and the West Bank, and Community to Community Development /Comunidad a Comunidad (C2C) of Bellingham, Washington, as co-recipients of the 2014 Food Sovereignty Prize.

Their stories of continuous struggle to defend the rights of their communities – farmers and fishers in the occupied Palestinian territories and migrant Mexican farm workers in Washington State, both seeking to produce their own food, on their own land, in their home communities – stand in stark contrast to the storylines coming from agribusiness:  that technological changes to crops can meet human needs and resolve hunger.

Palestine has been under Israeli occupation for decades and this summer faced heightened pressure, including thousands killed and many more injured from bombings, destruction of homes, schools, hospitals, farms, and fishing boats, and hundreds of arrests without due process, and the continued building of settlements on Palestinian farmland. UAWC builds farmers cooperatives and seed banks, and supports women’s leadership, while continuing to seek its members’ human rights to food, land, and water.

“This important prize inspires UAWC to carry on its work in defending Palestinian farmers’ rights against the brutal Israeli violations, both through supporting small-scale farmers and fishermen toward their food sovereignty and rights to land and water, and also through coordination with local and international movements for social justice and human rights,” said Khaled Hidan, General Director of the Union of Agricultural Work Committees in Palestine.

In Washington State, amid failed immigration policies that criminalize working families, Community to Community Development has supported and worked with immigrant farm workers to develop farm worker-owned cooperatives, organize a successful nutrition education project called Cocinas Sanas, and promote domestic fair trade in regional assemblies and meetings. Most recently, C2C has supported an emerging farm worker union, Familias Unidas por la Justicia, and organized a national boycott of Sakuma Farms, their employer, who withheld pay, provided poor housing, and has since retaliated against the workers. Familias Unidas por la Justicia recently won a settlement for wage theft and had a Superior Court Judge rule uphold their right to organize – but their fight is not over.

“In honoring Community to Community, the USFSA honors indigenous farmworkers in the U.S. Displaced by NAFTA, these peasant farmers from Mexico are practicing a tradition of struggle for justice. Together, C2C and Familias Unidas are promoting food sovereignty in rural Washington State and challenging the corporate agricultural interests that are controlling our food system,” said Rosalinda Guillen, Executive Director of Community to Community Development.

The Food Sovereignty Prize will be awarded on the evening of October 15in Des Moines, IA, at the Historical Building. The Food Sovereignty Prize challenges the view that simply producing more through industrial agriculture and aquaculture will end hunger or reduce suffering. The world currently produces more than enough food, but unbalanced access to wealth means the inadequate access to food. Real solutions protect the rights to land, seeds and water of family farmers and indigenous communities worldwide and promote sustainable agriculture through agroecology. The communities around the world who struggle to grow their food and take care of their land have long known that destructive political, economic, and social policies, as well as militarization, deprive communities of their rights.  These are the root causes of want, hunger and poverty.

The USFSA represents a network of food producers and labor, environmental, faith-based, social justice and anti-hunger advocacy organizations. Additional supporters of the 2014 Food Sovereignty Prize include Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom – Des Moines, and Occupy the World Food Prize, along with media sponsor EcoWatch.

For event updates and background on food sovereignty and the prize winners, visit Also, visit the Food Sovereignty Prize on Facebook ( and join the conversation on Twitter (#foodsovprize)


Adam Mason, State Policy Organizing Director

Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement

(515) 282-0484,

 Lisa Griffith, National Family Farm Coalition

US Food Sovereignty Alliance

(773) 319-5838,

Posted in Food Sovereignty | Comments Off

John Kinsman Tributes

JohnKinsmanFarmAidKansasCityThose who attended the John Kinsman Beginning Farmer Food Sovereignty Prize Award Ceremony last March were able to experience an amazing array of tributes to John from around the world that Ruth Simpson had assembled.  Since then many people have requested to see these remembrances, so we are posting them on our website for all to enjoy.  John’s vision and legacy will inspire many for years to come!

Miriam Brown remembrance

Farm Aid Remembrance

Stephen Bartlett remembrance

John Peck Remembrance

PR Watch Kinsman Interview

Ruth Simpson remembrance

John Nichols remembrance

Andrew Bartlett Remembrance

Grassroots International Remembrance

Jim Goodman remembrance

MST remembrance

Siena Chrisman remembrance

Mark Kastel remembrance

Steve Holt remembrance

US Food Sovereignty Remembrance

Remember John — several people — 1-1

Remembering John — several people — 2

Remembering John — several people — 3

Remembering John — several people — 4

Remembering John — several people — 5


Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

“Free Trade” Champions Betray Us All

By:  Jim Goodman, dairy farmer from Wonewoc, WI, and FFD board member
Originally published on Wednesday, July 2, 2014 by Common Dreams
Wisconsin Congressman Ron Kind has apparently never met a free trade agreement he didn’t like. Note it is always a “free trade” agreement, never a “fair trade” agreement.
Free trade defines an agreement that has as a first (and sometimes only) priority, the best interests of corporations namely, their profits. At what expense those profits are taken is apparently of little concern to the trade negotiators and in particular the corporate representatives that are active participants in the otherwise secretive Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations.
Fair trade on the other hand would put the interests of people and the environment ahead of corporate profit. Fair trade would protect jobs rather than off-shoring them as has historically happened after passage of all free trade agreements.
Environmental protection under fair trade would also trump corporate profit— destructive strip mines, mountain top removal, groundwater pollution, air pollution, all these byproducts of the less restrictive environmental protections, that again, always happen when free trade agreements are ratified, would have to be prohibited.
Free trade has no consideration for cultural preferences because it has no consideration for people. Japanese farmers and consumers prefer to grow and eat their traditional varieties of rice, not imported rice— that should be their right, not so under the TPP.
Food safety standards under free trade would, by design, fall to the lowest common denominator. Lower safety standards on food imports, like lower labor safety standards, reduce operating costs and thus increase corporate profit.
Pharmaceutical companies would be granted extended monopoly patents, thus increasing health care costs and access to generic medications.
Banking interests insist on and will get, Financial Service Agreements that would severely limit the ability of governments to restrict the trade of risky financial products or in general their ability to regulate “too big to fail” banks.
Another secretly negotiated free trade agreement the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA) which deals extensively with financial services, would actually further deregulate financial institutions and scrap much of the re-regulation that followed the world financial meltdown of a few years ago.
Perhaps most distressing to the U.S. economy, free trade agreements have always forced workers into a downward wage spiral. Jobs tend to flow to wherever wages are the lowest. The TPP would set the stage for member countries like Vietnam with its $2.75 daily wage to become an even lower cost labor alternative than China.
Free trade proponents like Rep. Kind who co-chairs the Friends of the TPP Caucus note that the U.S. is running a trade surplus with many of the small countries that it has bilateral trade agreements with. True enough, but it is hardly relevant to use bilateral trade statistics with a small country like Columbia as an argument for joining the TPP, a group that would comprise 40% of the world trade. And considering all the positive spin about trade surpluses from bilateral agreements with small nations, the U.S. still ran a trade deficit of over $470 billion in 2013.
We are told that establishing free trade zones will lower tariffs across the globe while encouraging higher labor and environmental standards. Say what? Tariffs are basically a non-issue having been nearly eliminated by previous trade deals while labor and environmental standards will be pushed to the lowest level possible, not elevated.
The Wisconsin State Journal calls Kind “a strong voice for free trade and the prosperity it brings to Wisconsin”. Think about that, how many manufacturing jobs have left Wisconsin and been offshored due to free trade; Johnson Controls, AT&T, Georgia Pacific and Harley Davidson to name a few.
Farmers are told free trade will increase sales of agricultural commodities worldwide making us more profitable. Generally, farmers do not export, grain companies, food processors and livestock packers export and they import –– it all depends on global prices, but generally they make a hefty profit on both ends.
Agricultural commodities are bought wherever they are the cheapest and sold where they are the most profitable. Free trade pits farmer against farmer to see who will produce the cheapest, just as it pits workers against each other in a race to the bottom.
The Friends of the TPP would do well to look at the history of free trade agreements and decide if they really like this status quo, these agreements that profit corporations at the expense of people and the environment. Or perhaps they might do a better job of serving their constituents by supporting fair trade that brings everyone up rather than always seeking the lowest common denominator.

Jim Goodman is a dairy farmer from Wonewoc, Wisconsin.

Posted in Food Sovereignty | Comments Off