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Home / Case Digests / 00-1389 Maple Leaf Farms, Inc. v. State of Wisconsin – DNR

00-1389 Maple Leaf Farms, Inc. v. State of Wisconsin – DNR

According to expert testimony elicited at the administrative hearing, landspreading manure improperly results in the release of pollutants to surface water or groundwater. If applied near streams, or on fields with drainage tile systems, runoff of pollutants into surface waters is likely.

We reject the farm’s claim that because the federal Clean Water Act does not regulate off-site manure spreading, the uniformity provision in the state legislation effectively eliminates the DNR’s authority to impose permit conditions on this activity.

The state legislature authorizes the DNR to implement a permit program that protects groundwater as well as surface water; the state regulatory program is broader and more stringent than the federal program.

This case raises serious policy concerns regarding the wisdom of the DNR’s decision to hold the farm ultimately responsible for the manure it generates and applies off-site. However, there is nothing in Wis. Admin. Code ch. NR 243 which distinguishes between on-site and off-site landspreading activities. In either case, the purpose of the code is to prevent the discharge of pollutants to waters of the state.

Furthermore, the WPDES statutory prohibition on discharges of pollutants from concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) would be of little value if the owners of the CAFOs could avoid responsibility merely by placing those pollutants onto the ground of third parties without regard to rates and quantities so that the pollutants would predictably leach into groundwater or runoff to surface waters.


Recommended for publication in the official reports.

Dist II, Racine County, Torhorst, J.; Brown, P.J.


For Appellant: Matthew H. Quinn, Racine

For Respondent: John S. Greene, Madison

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