John R. Russett and Maureen McMullen
In December 2016, the St. Croix County Board established a committee to study ground and surface water quality. The group, established in place of a moratorium on concentrated animal feeding operations, presented their nine months of research and discussion to the St. Croix County Board in October. The study group proposed more research into the distinctions between agricultural and non-agricultural sources of nitrate pollution. This research was among several study group recommendations calling for improved "baseline data" regarding the county's water quality.
Jody Lenz pulled one side of the bench away from her long dining room table and sat down. Across the table against the wall, next to the hutch, sat a mostly full 5-gallon water jug — now a necessity. High nitrate levels in her well made that decision for her. "I don't live in a Third World country and I'm buying my water as far out as I can see," she stated. "This is the plan, this is how we will get our water."
As post-World War II America raced hand-in-hand with a booming economy, the disparate decades preceding lending little insight into industry's imminent scale and scope, proficiencies' perpetuation, bolstered by corporate conglomerates, drove businesses to keep pace. Gains in productivity, while seemingly essential alongside an exploding population and continued emergence of global markets, left some struggling to find footing. Namely, the nation's farmers.
Tomandl established the Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship seven years ago to ease potential farmers' access to alternative dairy models. The two-year, 4,000-hour program matches matches applicants with a master dairy grazier and serves as both employment and training, taking lessons and structure from the time-tested guild apprenticeships.