WFU Expresses Concerns as Senate Leaders Advance SB 312, Citing Limited DNR Authority
Yesterday Senate leaders in the Committee on Natural Resources and Energy voted to move forward with SB 312. As currently written, including the amendment released two days ago, Wisconsin Farmers Union is concerned SB 312 does not give the Department of Natural Resources the flexibility to test for PFAS chemicals as well as to hold responsible parties liable for contaminating our residents’ drinking water.
Wisconsin Farmers Union appreciates the bill authors of SB 312 for bringing forward legislation to address the impact PFAS contamination has had on communities across Wisconsin. We have advocated for amendments to improve this legislation, since the public hearings held in May. WFU is disappointed the amendments on this legislation did not address concerns we raised around DNR authority, and continue to hope to see the Legislature, DNR, and Governor's office come to a reasonable solution. Impacted communities have suffered for too long and should not continue to be forced to wait for vital resources.
The impact of PFAS to the agriculture community is real. As we learn more about PFAS, historic land applications of contaminated processing waste and biosolids spanning decades has led to concerns about plant uptake, use for crop production, accessibility for grazing, and impacts to wildlife and the environment. Farmers who discover these issues, through no fault of their own, need assistance in the form of more research on plant uptake and remediation, as well as access to resources including income support and funding to transition to alternate forms of production if necessary.
“If we are not holding responsible parties accountable, we are not truly addressing this issue, and Wisconsinites, including farmers, will be forced to continue to worry about contamination on their land and water,” said Wisconsin Farmers Union President Darin Von Ruden.“The funding from the State Budget needs to be effectively utilized, and if we continue to pass the buck away from the parties responsible for contamination, we are sticking taxpayers with the bill of cleaning up the polluter’s mess.”
Our members believe that everyone deserves to feel confident knowing that the water coming out of their tap is safe to drink. The legislation proposed needs to make sure drinking water can be tested for contamination, and enforcement against responsible parties can occur. Therefore, without clear language giving the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources the authority to test and order remediation of PFAS on private property, Wisconsin Farmers Union cannot support this SB 312 as written.
Wisconsin Farmers Union, a member-driven organization, is committed to enhancing the quality of life for family farmers, rural communities, and all people through educational opportunities, cooperative endeavors, and civic engagement. For more information, visit www.wisconsinfarmersunion.com.