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Fight over dairy farm heads to Court of Appeals (UPDATE)

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — A legal battle over one of the state’s largest dairy farms will head to the Wisconsin Court of Appeals after a circuit judge dismissed the owner’s request to overturn groundwater monitoring requirements.

The ruling is the latest in a two-year legal fight between Kinnard Farms Inc. and its neighbors in the town of Lincoln. Opponents of the 4,000-head cattle farm who belong to an environmental group say the farm pollutes groundwater by overspreading manure, and in 2013 filed a legal challenge to a water discharge permit application that the farm needed to expand to 6,200 cows.

An administrative law judge determined that the farm could expand if the state Department of Natural Resources added to the permit groundwater monitoring requirements and a cap on the number of cows.

Farmer owner Lee Kinnard appealed the decision to the Door County Circuit Court, but it was dismissed last week by a judge, who determined that the case couldn’t be appealed until the agency finalized a modified permit, Press-Gazette Media reported.

Kinnard has since filed an appeal with the Wisconsin Court of Appeals, he said.

In a statement Wednesday, Kinnard said the appeal is about the two conditions imposed by the administrative law judge, which the family feels went beyond the DNR’s authority.

“It is important to remember that the DNR itself never proposed the conditions we are challenging. Instead, they were imposed by the administrative law judge against the recommendations of the DNR,” Kinnard said.

Midwest Environmental Advocates, the Madison-based group who is representing five of the farm’s neighbors who filed the initial challenge, believes that the company is resisting reasonable efforts to protect groundwater.

“The people in Kewaunee County don’t need more legal delays. They need clean groundwater,” spokeswoman Stacy Harbaugh said.

Kinnard is moving forward with the expansion, for which he initially applied for a permit in 2012 and could be complete at the end of the year, he said.

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