An open letter to Senator Frank Lasee:

As a Kewaunee County citizen, I have watched  with great interest, for the past two years,  the continued campaign against wind turbines here.  Dozens of very well-done signs still dot the county, and Senator Frank Lasee continues to have an active voice against these turbines.  There certainly are issues with wind turbines, no dispute;   but personally, it seems that while Kewaunee has actively pursued this issue, they fail to address the real elephant in the room, the 16 concentrated animal feeding operations we have here.  If your math is good, and you’d like to dispute that figure, I should clarify that we have 15 permitted operations, while one unpermitted CAFO operates here without permits, including a WPDES [Wisconsin pollution discharge elimination system] permit, and instead uses a US waterway, the East Twin River, as its wastewater management. 

The signs in the county say things like…Wind Turbines…Lower Property Values…Threaten Ground Water…Threatens Wildlife…Your Tax Dollars are Blown Away…Ruins Lives, Friendships, Communities…create Noise…Health and Safety Risks.  Ironically enough, some of these very signs are right in the vicinity of these large factory farms.  Let us look at these same issues as they relate to Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations here.

#1.  Lowers Property Values.  When a CAFO moves in, it is a known fact that home values plummet 10-90%.  For most individuals, the single most important investment they have is found in their home.   This devaluation is crippling to the average person, unless you have the ability financially and physically to recover from such a blow.

#2.  Threatens Groundwater.  CAFOs are notorious polluters of water.  Having such a large concentration of animals and waste makes an area highly susceptible to both air and water pollution issues.  Kewaunee County currently has roughly 30% of its wells contaminated with high nitrates/and or E-Coli.  A number of residents fearful of polluted wells chose not to know their well’s status—and do not test their wells in spite of health risks that could potentially hurt themselves or their children.

#3.  Threatens Wildlife.  This is huge.  Polluted waterways in Kewaunee County come with a tremendous cost to our wildlife.  Class 1 trout streams are extremely threatened, and massive fish kills, like the one that occurred a few years back from a “spill”, was costly in terms of the amount of fish killed and the cost to the state in replenishing all those fish that died.  This spill was an environmental disaster, and if you remember correctly the DNR was very effective in getting the information and the event under “damage control” by stating that, while under enforcement, the public is not privy to information on the case.  Nothing like having an environmental disaster…just go away.

It would be negligent under this heading if we do not also address the clear-cut practices of eliminating hedgerows and tree lines on properties.  Stewards of old knew that proper conservation practices of areas such as these helped in erosion control, run-off, and provided habitat for wildlife as well.  It seems to be a common practice now to see this important eco-system devalued and eliminated.

#4.  Tax Dollars Blown Away.  These large farm operations and their bloated expansions are fueled by Mega, Mega Taxpayer Subsidies. And those roads that are getting all the wear and tear from their continued use and mega-machinery…well those road repairs are bought by you and me, the taxpayers.

#5.  Ruins Lives, Friendships, Communities.  The politics of this issue tear apart communities, separate people, and create contention among community members.  Silence prevails among a large number of the community… which stems from fear, one’s need to keep things at “work”, among “neighbors”, and within ones family unit, and extended family, “peaceful”.  Perhaps the greatest tragedy lies in those individuals that stand to be displaced from their homes because 86.2 million gallons of untreated, raw manure has just become their new neighbor.

#6.  Health and Safety Risks.  The health and safety risks that CAFO’s pose for individuals and their community are great.  The reality of these operations are that they contaminate our air with high levels of hydrogen sulfide, ammonia, methane (that “fart” smell), and particulate matter that can irritate one’s throat and lungs.  As stated earlier, these operations and water contamination go hand in hand.  Nitrate levels as high as 27 ppm can be found here in Kewaunee County;  10ppm is considered dangerous to one’s health.  Couple that with E-Coli (fecal matter) found in wells, and you have a well that is contaminated–not fit for human consumption.  While we may know that ingesting water such as this can make one ill, you can only wonder, is bathing in it safe?  The human skin is the largest breathing organ on a person, and is permeable to whatever touches it.

#7.  Noise.  These large farms have confused the “Right to Farm” laws with “We have the workforce and the ability to work all night long mentality”…and we don’t care what our neighbors think.  Last summer I got up to check on my sleepless children only to find large farm machinery operating at 1 AM in the morning.  It literally sounded like someone cutting down the back forty!  I thought there’s no way you could harvest firewood in the middle of the night—who would even think of such a notion?  This event did not have anything to do with getting the harvest in, or avoiding a weather event.  Sorry, just because you have the ability to work all night, it doesn’t mean your neighbors are OK with your noisy activities…which go beyond plain rude, disregard. 

Senator Lasee, where is your voice on his issue?   Many of the wind turbine issues certainly parallel issues with these large factory farms. Citizens have contacted your office with their concerns.  Senator Lasee we would like to see you out here to witness what is going on, and the needs of YOUR constituents. We will continue to speak with other senators, even though they all keep echoing, “What does YOUR Senator, Frank Lasee think?”   Well, Senator Lasee?


A Concerned Kewaunee County Citizen



Filed under General Information

4 responses to “An open letter to Senator Frank Lasee:

  1. As a Kewaunee County resident – I couldn’t say it better myself. Thank you so much for voicing my concern as you voiced yours. This just points out that many of our politicians really are only concerned about their next election and not the people who elected them. How sad! JC


  2. Totally 100 percent accurate. I have personally seen, felt, and heard all the fellow concerned citizens states.
    Sept. 19th at 6:30PM, Dr. Pulera M.D. a physician dealing with infectious diseases, spoke before the Town of Pierce Board. She clearly explained that over 150 dangerous infectious bacteria, fungi, and viruses exist in CAFO manure lagoons. When this lagoon waste is sprayed into the environment via field application, the infectious material can blow far and wide in the wind and become literally a dangerous biological cloud that could infect the young, old and medically vulnerable.
    Please, citizens of Kewaunee awaken to this threat. And keep in mind that because of our plentiful water supplies, relatively cheap land and our weak leaderless government, large corporate entities like Smithfield or Tyson could be eyeing up our county at this very minute for a giant Hog or Chicken CAFO. Either of these entities are frightening because of the air, water, and soil pollution they would add to the already degraded air, water and soil of Kewaunee County brought about by large Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations of 700 or more mature dairy cattle in each of the 15 CAFOs Kewaunee County is known to have.


  3. Hi,
    I would like to wish you the best of luck regards Senator Lasee. Many citizens personal experience is that he demonstrates a very limited understanding or interest in these issues, if any. Senator Lase clearly indicates by word and deed that he is interested only in keeping the money flow to his camp from richly funded special interest groups. The large Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) are dependent on tax payer subsidies and price supports and in turn buy the services of well connected and well funded lobbying groups (your tax dollars at work)!

    I refer readers of this blog to WI. Act 122 signed into law in 2011. WI. Act 122 deals with people unfortunate enough to live near CAFOs and the air they breathe. Please google this and reflect on the true origins and nature of this law!


  4. Sandy Winnemueller

    Excellent article! All very true. We are surrounded by them and yet so many refuse to get involved in this or to believe that it affects them in any way. What they fail to remember is that water and air don’t stay still. They move and when they do, they take the pollutants with them. The green, slimy, stinky algae on Crescent Beach in Algoma? Guess what that’s from? Wrong, not the geese and not from Milwaukee. The EPA has released their research that states that 80% of the nutrient load in Lake Michigan is from industrial agriculture. The CAFO’s. And they all want to expand and they are getting the permits to do it too. Where are our leaders? Where is the Health Dept that has been entrusted to protect the health of the public? Who’s paying them to keep quiet in the hopes that no one will notice when they change the rules to favor the rich white guys?


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