WI feedlot owners settle state’s claims
March 16, 2011 by Wisconsin Department of Justice
March 8, 2011, Madison, WI – A Grant County civil environmental
enforcement action aimed at preventing the continued intermittent
discharge of manure and feed waste from Richard Bellmeyer’s beef
feedlot into a tributary of the Rountree Branch, a Class 2 trout
stream, has been resolved.
March 8, 2011, Madison, WI – A Grant County civil environmental enforcement action aimed at preventing the continued intermittent discharge of manure and feed waste from Richard Bellmeyer’s beef feedlot into a tributary of the Rountree Branch, a Class 2 trout stream, has been resolved.
Since at least 1985, the Bellmeyer feedlot has been responsible for significant manure and feed waste discharges to the stream. The state’s complaint alleged the pastures and feed areas on the Bellmeyer farm lacked adequate vegetation, the animals often stand in several inches of manure, manure has been stockpiled in a drainage way, and rain has sent it through channels, through a culvert, and ultimately to the stream.
Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and Grant County staff began working with Bellmeyer in 1985-86, but little progress was made. He was offered technical assistance and cost-sharing money in 1995, but he did nothing. In 2005, the DNR directed Bellmeyer to apply for a discharge permit, but he did not return the application. Uncontrolled discharges of manure and other process wastewater to the stream were documented in 2008 and 2009, and formed the basis for the state’s lawsuit.
After the lawsuit was filed, the Attorney General’s office worked with DNR and Bellmeyer to address the acute risks posed by the farm operation. Bellmeyer improved his manure management practices, closed the feedlot closest to the stream, stabilized the pasture so it could re-vegetate, and progressively reduced their herd. Bellmeyer chose to depopulate their herd instead of obtaining a discharge permit, and agreed to either obtain a permit or obtain DNR approval of an agricultural runoff control plan designed to prevent discharges of animal waste and feed waste before housing livestock in the future. In addition, Bellmeyer agreed to pay forfeitures, costs, and fees totaling $20,000.
The violations were investigated by the DNR, which referred the matter to the Wisconsin Department of Justice. Assistant Attorney General Diane Milligan represented the State. The settlement agreement was approved by Grant County Circuit Court Judge Craig R. Day.