Friday, July 6, 2018

Walker ramps up DNR disintegration, Big Dairy power - - in private

Hey, Wisconsin: get used more GOP-enabled corporate power controlling public policy - - and even deeper brown water statewide - - as Walker further reduces DNR to a kiosk or online portal for hunting and fishing licenses, little else.

Wisconsin already has already doubled during Walker's reign the number of impaired waterways, and made fecal groundwater pollution so common in CAFO-heavy Kewaunee County that the state will bring you bottled water, no charge.

And it's going to get worse in Wisconsin where the wildlife, fresh water, clean air and lands which Walker and his crew touch turn dirty.

Thanks to an open records documents request by Midwest Environmental Activists, and Journal Sentinel reporting, we learn that Walker has been privately meeting with Big Dairy to facilitate the transfer of industrial-scale farming oversight - - such as it is - - and the preservation of critical state water rights guaranteed in the State Constitution's Public Trust Doctrine from the DNR to even-more industry-obeisant 'regulation' by the state agriculture department.

The disclosures of closed-door, special-interest spin sessions and other favors to Big Dairy are news: 
According to the documents, the [dairy] association also emailed talking points to the governor, describing the agriculture department as a “natural regulator of farms,” housed with experts who understand farming practices...  
Late last year, emails show the dairy group and its representatives provided draft legislation to guide the transition. 
The association has also received briefings from the administration as the two agencies work out of the public eye on budgeting, personnel and legal issues to move the program, according to documents, interviews and emails with parties involved.
We knew as I wrote last fall that Walker's continual disintegration of the once-world-class, science-driven DNR aimed to let big dairies and other major businesses shuck the DNR to accelerate embedding Walker's de-regulated, 'chamber of commerce mentality' further into state government: 

Walker figures out new way to serve business, weaken WI DNR 
Right-wing WI GOP Gov. and corporate bellhop Scott Walker now wants to give foxes the run of the farm. 
He's moving to shift from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources the oversight of controversial, large-scale, water-demanding and manure-producing animal feeding and breeding operations to the more industry-focused Wisconsin Department of Ag, Trade and Consumer Protection, (DATCP), where all sorts of ag and dairy promotion and marketing is centered... 
Walker wants to further drain the DNR's mission, just as he did by wiping out its science bureau and laying off agency scientists, and removing climate science and materials from the agency mission, and replacing civil service oversight of the DNR's forestry division with an industry insider
And further separating that workforce from the rest of the DNR staff by moving the forest division up north, and, through budget cuts and favoritism, laying the groundwork for corporate sponsorships at state parks (are direct state parkland transfers to private owners for projects like the proposed, high-end, wetland-filling-and-polluting, artifact-threatening, dune-damaging golf course adjacent to Kohler Andrae State Park south of Sheboygan far off?... 
This is the state agency that is assigned ag and dairy promotion, by law - - and note how promotional, pro-producer it is:
The specific duties of the secretary of agriculture, trade, and consumer protection are outlined in Chapter 93.07 of the Wisconsin state code. Some of the main duties of the office include:[5]
  • Promotion of agriculture: "To promote the interests of agriculture, dairying, horticulture, manufacturing, commercial fishing and the domestic arts and to advertise Wisconsin and its dairy, food, and agricultural products by conducting campaigns of education throughout the United States and in foreign markets. Such campaigns shall include the distribution of educational and advertising material concerning Wisconsin and its plant, animal, food, and dairy products. The department shall coordinate efforts by the state to advertise and promote agricultural products of this state, with the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation where appropriate. The department shall submit its request and plan for market development program expenditures for each biennium with its biennial budget request. The plan shall include the identification and priority of expenditures for each market development program activity. 
  • State aid to Livestock Breeders Association: To receive and examine, prior to its transmission to the department of administration, the biennial request for state aid of the Wisconsin Livestock Breeders Association; to transmit and make recommendations upon this request to the department of administration and the governor; and to advise as to the manner of expending and accounting for state moneys appropriated to that organization."
And promotes ag and dairy businesses and helps those industries sell their products through a non-profit marketing board, according to a DATCP web page:
Established in 1983, this market order board has 25 members who represent Wisconsin's thousands of ​​dairy farmers. Its mission is “To help grow demand for Wisconsin milk by providing programs that enhance the competitiveness of the Wisconsin Dairy Industry.” 
DATCP also:
*  Manages the Alice in Dairyland program.
*  Works closely with the annual World Dairy Expo.
*  Has a non-voting seat on the World Dairy Expo board executive committee.
All of which speaks to a government agency that is a lot closer to private sector goals than is the DNR, even with the changes Walker has made there. 

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