That’s a Whole Lot of Manure
55 million gallons per year from one mega farm; $75,000 to politicians.
Owners of a proposed factory farm in Wood County who have contributed more than $75,000 to legislative and statewide candidates may challenge a recent state appeals court ruling that puts the future of the controversial mega-farm in question.
The decision involves the Wysocki Family of Companies, which wants to build Golden Sands Dairy, a factory farm that would hold up to 5,300 cows and produce an estimated 55 million gallons of manure a year. The farm would require about 4,600 acres of red pine forest to be logged, and it would use 32 high-capacity wells for irrigation. The contentious wells, which have been blamed for shrinking lakes and streams around the state during summer, would supply the farm with up to 2 billion gallons of water to use each year.
The DNR has never rejected a permit for a factory farm, but it has placed conditions on some of the farms because of groundwater and other environmental concerns. Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s DNR has been frequently criticized for being too friendly to big business and other special interests at the expense of enforcing clean air, water and other environmental rules. A Legislative Audit Bureau report released last June showed that DNR inspections, enforcements actions, and fines against polluters – including large farms, factories, and sewage treatment plants – fell sharply over the past 10 years.
Wysocki family members and other owners of the Wysocki Family of Companies contributed about $75,325 between January 2010 and December 2016 to legislative and statewide candidates:
$20,552 by James and Sharon Wysocki, of Custer;
$8,925 from Jeff Sommers, of Bancroft;
$7,650 from Louis Wysocki, of Custer;
$1,100 from Gregory Wysocki, of Stevens Point.
The biggest recipient of contributions from the Wysockis and other owners was Walker, who accepted about $39,125. None of the justices on the seven-member Supreme Court received campaign contributions from the Wysocki family or other owners.
In addition to the campaign contributions, the Wysocki Produce Farm, which is one of the family’s large potato farms, spent about $161,000 on lobbying state policymakers from January 2015 through last December on groundwater legislation and zoning issues.