Rock Co. farmers worried about new mega-farm - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Rock Co. farmers worried about new mega-farm

JANESVILLE (WKOW) -- A new, large-scale dairy farm currently under construction is sparking concern amongst farmers in Rock County.

Tony Ends, a farmer and member of Green-Rock Citizens for Clean Water, says the amount of manure produced at the mega-farm could contaminate ground water that farmers use.

He says nitrates from the 5,200 cows expected to call the mega farm in the eastern portion of the county home could seep into the soil and cause problems for the area's smaller farmers.

"They'll be generating more manure there than our cities do sewage," said Ends, a former reporter.

The Department of Natural Resources says that number of cows could produce as much as 74 million gallons of manure each year.

The dairy farm under construction is owned by a Nebraska-based company that has at least two farms of that size already in Nebraska.

In January, the Department of Natural Resources ruled the new farm would likely not create enough risk of increasing nitrate levels to warrant an environmental impact study.

Consequently, the owner of the farm now has all the necessary permits to begin construction.

The DNR says it will be monitoring the mega-farm more than the typical farm due to its size and potential environmental impact.

Those in favor the farm say it will create at least 50 new jobs and could help bring down the price of some products produced in bulk at the farm. 

But Ends says that will come at the expense of local, independent farmers.

"We want farming to be a way of life, not just for one person, but for hundreds of thousands," said Ends.  "And not just as workers in one business from out of the state, but as independent business owners."

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