NORWALK, Wis. (WXOW) – A farm in Norwalk is looking to expand but some of their neighbors are saying no way.
Neighbors of Hawk High Dairy are concerned about keeping their groundwater safe. They also believe a bigger herd could increase the risk of a manure spill.
The farm currently has approximately 700 milking cows but they want to boost that by around 1,000 more.
Neighbors allege that the farm has already contaminated the groundwater and they’re concerned specifically about nitrate levels. They say that making the farm bigger is too risky for the rest of the community.
“It should not be the right of one business or family to take part in activities that will be detrimental to the rest of the people in the community. That isn’t fair,” said neighbor Robert Kufalk.
The family that runs Hawk High Dairy claims neighbors have misconceptions about how they run their farm.
They admit that in the past, manure spilled into nearby Moore Creek, but that issue involved a manure hauler that the farm hired. It was resolved with the Department of Natural Resources.
The farm’s owners say they need to expand their milking herd to keep up with larger farms. They said even if they get bigger, they will still be a family farm.
“The thing I want everyone to know, this isn’t gonna be a factory farm. There’s no investors, no nothing, this is all family owned,” Walker Rynes, a family member of Hawk High Dairy, said.
Representatives from the DNR are accepting public comments through September 3. After that, the DNR will decide whether or not to go through with the permit.
As part of the review process, the Wisconsin DNR says the data surrounding groundwater concerns will be analyzed by a state hydro-geologist. That person will make a recommendation about whether groundwater monitoring wells would be required at the farm.
The DNR says a decision is expected before the end of the year.