The Waterkeeper Alliance has turned its attention to Minnesota.

In an appearance at St. Olaf College, in Northfield, Minn., Robert F. Kennedy Jr., president of the Waterkeeper Alliance, criticized giant farms for creating more air and water waste than state laws allow. While he praised the state's environmental restrictions, Kennedy said, “they are not enforced and the official policy of the state is to actually encourage these (factory farm) operations to come into the state.”

A factory farm is often defined as one with 1,000 or more animals, but Kennedy offered another definition. “If you're disposing of your manure to get rid of it, then it's a factory farm,” he said. “What these operations do is they create more waste than they can dispose of on the land.”

Kennedy said the best remedy would be to change the federal farm bill to discourage such large operations. He described the bill as “a welfare program for large corporations.”

But he also said about 65 groups are considering legal action against Minnesota farms that pollute. “We're putting people on notice,” Kennedy said. “We're coming after them and somebody's going to have to pay.”

The Waterkeeper Alliance, based in White Plains, N.Y., is an umbrella organization of 70 regional and local programs that promote compliance of water conservation laws.

Minneapolis Star Tribune