Mike North: We can be proud of high-capacity wells victory
Thursday, June 1, 2017
Posted by: Jamie Mara, director of public relations
Six years ago, we began a fight to protect farmers’ investments in high-capacity wells.
Thirty minutes ago, Gov. Scott Walker signed a law that does just that.
I was proud to be at the ceremony on behalf of all of you and the broader dairy community. Cody Heller, the chairman of our Government Affairs Committee, joined me. Several other supporters of agriculture were present as well.
This new law will do two important things:
- It will protect farmers’ existing investments in high-capacity wells by allowing the repair, replacement, reconstruction and transfer of an existing well without having to go through a new permitting or environmental review process.
- It authorizes a study of a portion of the Central Sands region to determine the true extent of the effects of the wells on surface water and to hopefully provide us with the tools necessary to address that issue definitively.
The bill did not address how new high-capacity wells are permitted. Litigation on this issue involving DBA, several farmers and many other agricultural groups is ongoing. We may need to deal with this issue yet again in the Legislature.
But now is not the time to dwell on possible future fights.
Instead, we should savor this victory. It was three legislative sessions in the making. DBA worked tirelessly on four different bills during that time. We also had to fight back against several other unhelpful proposals that would have added to the regulatory confusion.
This success was only possible through the joint efforts of a coalition that united all of agriculture behind this legislation. We owe a special thanks to our legislative champions, Reps. Lee Nerison and Gary Tauchen, Speaker Robin Vos and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald.
Predictable regulations for high-capacity wells are essential for the prosperity of Wisconsin’s dairy and agricultural communities.
I want to personally thank all of our members who testified or contacted their legislators about this bill. We would not have reached this point without your help and support.
Now, with this win behind us, DBA will continue to work on the rest of its legislative agenda. There is a lot more to do to ensure that Wisconsin’s dairy community can reach our full potential. Please enjoy this accomplishment but, as any farmer knows, there’s more work to do tomorrow.