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Wisconsin settles state Justice Department pollution allegations against 2 factory farms

Settlements reached with North Side Genetics LLC and Stahl Brothers Dairy LLC

Clouds and a blue sky are seen behind the Wisconsin State Capitol
The Wisconsin State Capitol on Thursday, April 29, 2021, in Madison, Wis. Angela Major/WPR

Wisconsin lawmakers agreed Wednesday to settle allegations that two factory farms violated their pollution permits for more than a quarter of a million dollars.

The Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee unanimously approved a $17,500 settlement with North Side Genetics LLC in Fennimore and a $228,000 settlement with Stahl Brothers Dairy LLC. The state Justice Department accused North Side Genetics of failing to construct a feed storage runoff control system by an Aug. 1, 2019, deadline. The department accused Stahl Brothers Dairy of multiple manure-spreading violations.

Republicans passed a state law in late 2016 that requires the Justice Department to obtain permission from the finance committee before entering into legal settlements. The law was part of a GOP effort to weaken Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul and Gov. Tony Evers before they began their first terms.

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The committee on Wednesday also signed off on a $940,000 settlement with Didion Milling Inc. The Justice Department sued the company in November 2020 alleging inspectors discovered multiple emissions, record-keeping and reporting violations at its Cambria corn mill in 2019. A grain dust explosion at the mill two years earlier killed five employees.

Last year, a federal grand jury charged the company with fraud and conspiracy in connection with the explosion, alleging the company failed to keep up with cleanings at the plant and falsified records to make it appear as if the cleanings were completed. The company responded to the charges by insisting the explosion was an accident.