What: DNR Decision Regarding Cranberry Creek CAFO Expansion
Contact: Jeff Smith, Citizen Action Organizing Cooperative-Western Wisconsin (715) 579-9811 [email protected]
The DNR rejected Cranberry Creek Dairy’s second nutrient management plan (NMP) application on May 3rd because the revised NMP did not support the proposed expansion to 6,794 animal units (5,500 cows and 1,250 calves). The submitted NMP had a number of irregularities that contributed to the DNR’s rejection: landowners listed as receiving manure who had contacted the DNR requesting removal from the NMP, farm fields listed as receiving manure with no signed lease agreements, and lease agreements that did not include all owners of the land slated to receive manure.
The Cranberry Creek CAFO, currently owned by the Radle family, is located in Dunn County and there is speculation that Grassland Dairy is poised to buy Cranberry Creek if the expansion permit is approved. Cranberry Creek will produce over 51 million gallons of manure annually and in order to have the roughly 4,800 acres of land necessary to satisfy the NMP criteria, the CAFO operator must secure rental land in the area to dispose of the manure.
Some property owners are uncomfortable with the prospect of renting farm land for manure spreading to a large corporation like Grassland, as opposed to a local family farmer like the Radle’s. Jeff Smith, organizer for Citizen Action Organizing Cooperative- Western Wisconsin, sees this as a potential opportunity for citizens in the region to gain control of the situation, “We are particularly impressed with, and grateful for, the property owners who have stood steadfast against allowing the excessive spreading on their lands. This is how neighbors stand together to protect the public trust and resources we all rely on.”
Cranberry Creek’s first NMP was rejected in late 2016 due to the same irregularities that prompted the May 3rd rejection. The Dunn County News reported on September 25th that “A number of nearby landowners told DNR representative Leah Nicol that they were surprised -- and not just a little outraged -- to see their names and parcels listed in the NMP for the spreading of manure from the Cranberry Creek operation.” The two public hearings held in response to Cranberry Creek’s expansion were well-attended and saw comments from a wide array of community members. Smith sees a relationship between citizen input and the DNR’s regulatory action, “It’s worth pointing out that the hundreds of citizens who provided oral and written testimony during the two public input periods had an impact; it’s refreshing to feel our input was heard and respected by the DNR.”