After more than 17 months of pressure from CSWAB, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has set a May 1 deadline for getting the Dairy Forage Research Center Farm into compliance with state and federal laws that protect water quality.

Since 2002, all Wisconsin farmers have been required to prepare annual Nutrient Management Plans (NMPs) to protect our lakes, streams, and groundwater from polluted agricultural runoff.  According to the Sauk County Land Conservation Department, federal agencies such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture are not exempted from these requirements.

The Dairy Forage Research Center (DFRC), however, has not been producing annual NMPs for its rural Sauk County facility which currently has approximately 670 dairy cattle.  A plan was also required as part of its permit for the manure-holding facility constructed last year on recently-acquired land at Badger Army Ammunition Plant.  Sauk County officials said, however, that the required NMP has still not been submitted.

An environmental protection specialist with the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) in Peoria, Illinois said that the facility’s NMPs have “not necessarily been written down” and that the agency has “perhaps not fulfilled Wisconsin’s requirements before.”

Regional ARS Director Steven R. Shafer said that the agency is working quickly to get the facility in compliance and personally set the May 1 target.  Members of CSWAB’s board met with DFRC staff on April 3 to discuss progress in completing required plan components such as mapping, soil testing, and nutrient analysis.  CSWAB has retained a professional hydrologist/soil scientist to review recently-acquired records for 2002 to 2006.

The Dairy Forage Research Center Farm, including barns and a manure management facility, is located adjacent to Lake Wisconsin in rural Prairie du Sac.  The Agricultural Research Service is the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s chief scientific research agency.  The farm operates jointly with the University of Wisconsin-Madison College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, Agricultural Research Stations.  In September of 2004, the USDA received custody of 1,943 acres of the former Badger Army Ammunition Plant.

Citizens for Safe Water Around Badger (CSWAB) was organized in 1990 by neighbors of the closing military base and has been a driving force in the successful cleanup and conversion of the plant to conservation and sustainable agriculture.