WisconsinWeekly: DNR OKs manure rules; WI farmers debate ‘organic’ label; VA pushes back against vets; Menominee seek to block MI mine

What to do about manure, organic labeling, vets’ class-action suit and a sulfide mine

Of Note: This week we’re highlighting news affecting Wisconsin farmers, Veterans Administration patients and members of the Menominee Tribe. State farmers may face new rules for handling manure in parts of Wisconsin where the geography makes groundwater susceptible to pollution. The U.S. Department of Agriculture wants to withdraw a rule that would require certified organic meat and poultry producers to abide by stricter animal welfare standards. The VA is pushing back against a class-action lawsuit over emotional distress claimed by patients who risked exposure to HIV because of improper sterilization by a dentist at the Tomah Medical Center. And the Menominee Tribe is suing the federal government, trying to block approval of a mine across the border in Michigan that it fears will pollute the Menominee River.

WisconsinWeekly is produced by Andy and Dee J. Hall, a couple who founded the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism. Andy is the executive director and Dee is the managing editor.

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DNR board approves measure to limit manure pollution in eastern Wisconsin to protect groundwater

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel – Jan. 24, 2018

The Wisconsin Natural Resources Board voted 7-0 to add new restrictions on manure spreading after years of complaints over polluted groundwater. The restrictions target 15 counties in eastern Wisconsin, including metropolitan Milwaukee and the northeast region of the state, the site of many large concentrated animal feeding operations, or CAFOs. Despite earning support on both sides of the aisle, the measure still faces funding shortages and an uncertain fate in the state Legislature. Earlier: WCIJ investigated drinking water contamination caused by manure in northeastern Wisconsin including Kewaunee County

Should ‘USDA Organic’ seal require better animal welfare standards? Farm industry is divided

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel – Jan. 22, 2018

Under President Trump, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has withdrawn its support for a rule that would require “USDA Certified Organic” meat and poultry producers to abide by stricter animal welfare rules. The move has created a rift in the farming community across the country and in Wisconsin, where organic food production is second only to California.

Feds: No grounds for class-action suit over unsterilized dental equipment at Tomah VA

LaCrosse Tribune – Jan. 23, 2018

The U.S. Department of Justice is asking a judge to dismiss a class-action lawsuit filed by a group of veterans claiming they suffered emotional distress after learning they may have been exposed to HIV and hepatitis while receiving dental care at the VA Medical Center in Tomah. In November 2016, VA officials learned that dentist Thomas Schiller had been re-using drill bits and not properly sterilizing them for over a year.

Wisconsin tribe takes feds to court over proposed Michigan mine

Wisconsin Public Radio – Jan. 22, 2018

The Menominee Tribe of Wisconsin filed a federal lawsuit against the U.S. government claiming the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Environmental Protection Agency wrongly delegated the authority to the state of Michigan to regulate wetlands on the site of a controversial pit sulfide mine planned near the border of Wisconsin and Michigan. The tribe argues that even though the Aquila Resources mine would be on the Michigan side of the border, it would disturb the source of the Menominee River.

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