The State Budget and Wisconsin’s Waters

Mar 30, 2017 | Agriculture, Citizen Advocacy, Water Policy

The state budget is a place for you to let legislators know that protecting Wisconsin’s waters matters to you. The budget sets both financial and policy priorities for the next two years.

If you are preparing to attend the state budget hearings around the state this month, see the information below about concerns to bring forward to the Joint Committee on Finance.

Dates & Times:

The Joint Committee on Finance will hold public hearings, on the Governor’s 2017-19 Biennial Budget

(Assembly Bill 64/Senate Bill 30)

  • Monday, April 3rd – Platteville
  • Wednesday, April 5th – West Allis
  • Friday, April 7th – Berlin
  • Tuesday, April 18th – Spooner
  • Wednesday, April 19th – Ellsworth
  • Friday, April 21st – Marinette

April 3-5th hearing details:

April 18-21st hearing details:

The Top Two Water-Related Issues:

  1. Keep CAFO management with the DNR
  2. Restore county conservation staff funding

Keep CAFO management with the DNR

The ask: Remove the study in the budget to consider moving concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFO) management from the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to the Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection (DATCP).

The DNR is federally required to be the agency to regulate water quality and nonpoint pollution from CAFOs. They have the staff with expertise to understand, regulate, and manage large scaled CAFOs to make sure they are following the requirements of their pollution discharge permits in order to minimize the impacts to our drinking and surface waters.

The management of CAFOs should NOT be moved from the DNR to DATCP. The study proposed in the state budget is unnecessary and a waste of time and money. Instead, the DNR should continue to do what they are doing right now- continue to improve their own management of CAFOs. Recently, they added four more staff to the CAFO team to begin to address the issues raised in the Legislative Audit Bureau report on DNR’s failures in management CAFOs Wisconsin Pollutant Discharge Elimination Permits (WPDES) permits. DNR should focus on additional improvements to provide better customer service to CAFOs to help them be the good stewards of their land and our waters.

Audit bureau report:

Restore county conservation staff funding

The ask: Restore $1.3 million in annual appropriation levels for state aid to support county conservation staffing efforts.

County Land Conservation Departments (LCDs) are the boots on the ground helping farmers and other land-users meet their objectives while protecting lakes, streams and groundwater.  Last year, county LCDs helped distribute millions in federal and state cost-share assistance to help farmers conserve topsoil, handle expanded herd sizes, and manage nutrients.

Every county in Wisconsin has conservation staff dedicated to helping farmers and other landowners improve their bottom line while assisting them to protect the land and water, including drinking water. Besides helping farmers, county LCDs help to: manage local forests, control invasive species and manage storm-water.

As shown in the graph below, restoring the $1.3 million in annual appropriation levels for state aid to support county conservation staffing efforts would return funding to the $9.3 million base budget from the 2001 to 2011 average of state funding. (Graph provided by Wisconsin Land and Water Conservation Association.)