Crowd Fills Auditorium at Mega Farm Meeting

By: Elizabeth Schilder Email
By: Elizabeth Schilder Email

Emotions ran high Thursday night at a town board meeting in Wood County to discuss a controversial proposal to build a 6,000 acre dairy farm with 3,500 cows in the Town of Saratoga.

Saratoga residents packed the performing arts center in Wisconsin Rapids demanding answers for questions they say have, until now, been left unanswered.

One of their majors concerns is how the proposed farm could affect the environment, tourism, property values, and public health. Fears that water and air quality could be impacted by the large amounts of manure produced by the farm dominated the discussion.

Despite Wysocki Farms reassurance that they would run a clean facility, residents were not convinced.

Bill Leichtman lives in Saratoga and says, “My biggest concern would definitely be groundwater. Well water... the pollutants that would run off from the land."

Wysocki representatives emphasized their compliance with EPA and DNR guidelines. They added they are taking extra precautions to prevent air and water pollution. Specifically, by using an anarobic process that turns manure into clean energy and helps reduce odor.

They'll also plan to dig 49 high capacity wells to service the farm, which they say has been approved by the DNR.

Regardless, residents aren't happy. They argue the dairy farm will still deplete and taint their water supply. The town has hired a lawyer to guide them on how much authority they'll have on saying yes or no to the proposal.

Many residents have signed petitions asking the DNR to take the people's opinion into account when providing the Wysocki's with permits.

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