Dairy
July 21, 2017, Washington - The Washington State Department of Agriculture has ended its investigation into the release of fecal coliform-laced water that flooded a Yakima County community last winter, recommending that a dairy block off a manure compost pile or move it to higher ground.

Snipes Mountain Dairy was not fined or ordered to take action, but WSDA will inspect the farm in the fall, department spokesman Hector Castro said.

If the dairy doesn't respond to WSDA's concerns, the department could refer the case to the Department of Ecology, which also has jurisdiction over the dairy.

The dairy also could face more severe penalties by WSDA if it discharges polluted water again. "It certainly would be a factor," Castro said.

WSDA's notice to Snipes dairy stems from a March 1 flood that actually began on another farm.

Melting snow breached a berm around a field and flowed onto Snipes dairy. The floodwater wasn't polluted until it washed into the pile of manure, according to WSDA's investigation. The contaminated water eventually surrounded several homes a half mile away in Outlook. READ MORE 
July 20, 2017 - Take a tour of the McCormick Farms Reclamation System. This video demonstates how the McCormick Farm is able to clean barns and recycle the sands and separate the solids from the liquids in order to recycle all the bedding.

McCormick Farms values sustainable development, thus have an automated system integrated directly in the farm to keep the cows clean and reuse and recycle wastes.

Cows currently are all bedded with sand, so it is very important for the cows well-being that their bedding is kept dry. For more information, watch the video above!
July 18, 2017, Freedom, WI - A manure spill at a 950-cow dairy farm in northeastern Wisconsin ran into a local creek that feeds into the Fox River.

The spill was reported on Monday and a temporary clay dam has been installed to contain the runoff.

An agricultural runoff specialist with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources said it's not known how much manure entered Dutchman's Creek located outside of Freedom, southwest of Green Bay.

Ben Uvaas said the dairy farm responsible reported at least 20,000 gallons of manure were released from a holding pit.

"The farm estimates 20,000 gallons was lost from the pit," Uvaas said. "So out of that a fraction, a percentage would have gotten to Dutchman's Creek. That's probably the best estimate we're ever going to have for this."

Uvaas said the farm worked quickly to contain the spill by having a contractor build a clay berm.

"It's fairly water tight. Those are built up perpendicular to the flow in the creek kind of like a 'mini dam,'" Uvaas said. "And as that water fills up behind the berm, it becomes deep enough where equipment like a septic truck or vacuum truck can reach in there with a hose and collect that water."

Uvaas doesn't have authorization to issue fines for spills, but violations can be referred to the state Department of Justice.
June 22, Wiota, WI — As farms have gotten larger and the equipment and storage facilities necessary to accommodate that growth have gotten bigger with them, the risk of injury and death on those farms has also increased.

About 75 emergency response personnel and farmers gathered June 12 at Cottonwood Dairy Farm just outside Wiota for a training session designed to help them understand the hazards of manure storage and handling systems. The workshop focused primarily on confined space and manure as safety procedures.

Cheryl Skjolaas, UW-Madison/​Extension agriculture safety specialist, and Jeff Nelson, UW-Madison machinery specialist and volunteer firefighter, took participants to various spots on the farm to see the farm's manure pits and associated equipment during the training session.

They talked about equipment that is safe to use in confined spaces, such as gas monitors and ventilation equipment, and fall protection devices. READ MORE
June 13, 2017, Idaho - Agricultural production in the western U.S. is an important part of the global food supply. However, due to concerns over impacts from agricultural greenhouse gasses on the global climate, there is a need to understand the effect of nitrogen source on emissions from cropping systems in semiarid environments.

In a paper recently published in the Soil Science Society of America Journal, researchers report nitrous oxide (N2O), carbon dioxide (CO2), and methane (CH4) emissions from a dairy forage rotation (silage corn-barley-alfalfa) in south-central Idaho that received various nitrogen sources, including granular urea, an enhanced-efficiency fertilizer (SuperU), dairy manure, or composted dairy manure. READ MORE
June 5, 2017, PA - Pennsylvania is offering a limited number of $1,000 grants to dairy farmers to help pay for the cost of developing plans to meet baseline agricultural compliance.

The grants can be used to offset some of the costs of preparing Nutrient Management, Manure Management and Agriculture Erosion and Sediment Control Plans. Time is of the essence, however, because grant money must be spent by June 30.

Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs), those with 1,000 or more animal units, already must have Nutrient Management Plans in order to operate. But all Pennsylvania livestock farms, regardless of size, must have Manure Management and Agriculture Erosion and Sediment Control plans.

In fact, the requirement for a Manure Management Plan has been on the books since 1972.

Having basic manure management plans in place has been an expectation for decades. However, inspections are now occurring in Pennsylvania. READ MORE
May 31, 2017, Arlington, VA – The National Dairy FARM Program has released its Environmental Stewardship Continuous Improvement Reference Manual in cooperation with the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy.

Released in celebration of Earth Day, the guide provides a comprehensive suite of on-farm management practices to reduce a farm's environmental footprint and improve its profitability.

Specifically, the manual features a detailed explanation of the FARM Environmental Stewardship (ES) module, as well as strategies to reduce on-farm greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in various areas of farm management, including feed, manure, energy, forage, and animal health.

FARM ES is a voluntary, farmer-driven tool that helps producers expand their sustainability efforts by using a limited amount of data about their farm. The module is based on a life-cycle assessment (LCA) of fluid milk conducted by the Applied Sustainability Center at the University of Arkansas, incorporating existing data from more than 500 dairy farms across the United States.

Launched in February, FARM ES is the third of the FARM Program's three silos, including Animal Care and Antibiotic Stewardship.

The FARM ES reference manual was developed by FARM and includes previous work completed by the Innovation Center. The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) led an independent review of the manual using a panel of subject matter experts.

"In an increasingly resource scarce world, we need to produce more food on the current amount of land, with less inputs and environmental impacts," said Sandra Vijn, director for markets and food at WWF. "FARM ES will support U.S. dairy farmers in continuously identifying better management practices for environmental stewardship. That is why WWF works with NMPF, the industry and dairy experts to ensure the program produces the best resources and solutions for farmers in terms of environmental sustainability."

This manual further demonstrates the dairy industry's culture of continuous improvement, the focus of the FARM Program.

Since 1944, the carbon footprint of a gallon of milk has decreased by 63 percent – a leading example of farmers' dedication to being good stewards of natural resources.

In addition to the manual, the FARM Program has developed an extensive library of resources regarding the program and environmental stewardship.
Wisconsin is known as America’s Dairyland. More than one-third of all the cows in U.S. live on approximately 3,000 farms in Wisconsin.
May 2, 2017, Tulare, CA – Central Valley dairymen in California prepare an annual report – often enormous – for the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board. Annual reports contain information on nitrogen (N) and phosphorous (P) applications to cropland. If this information is accurate, it can help improve both crop and manure management on the dairy. How do you know if your report is accurate?

Often, the nutrient of primary concern is N. Dairy producers want to ensure that as much manure N as possible is used by crops. Otherwise, crop growth may be stunted and manure N can end up polluting air or water resources. However, it is difficult to tell if N application numbers make sense, because the amount of N lost to the air varies. You can perform a simple check with the manure P numbers in your annual report to see if your manure N numbers are accurate.

You want to check that most of the P excreted by the herd is recovered in managed manure. Because P is not lost to the air, all the excreted P should leave the production area in exported or land-applied manure. Look through your last annual report. First, locate the values that estimate the P excretion in your herd. Compare the P excretion values with the amount of P removed from the production area in liquid or solid manure (applied to cropland or manifested off-site). Expect P in managed manure to be around 100 percent of excreted P because P is stable during manure storage.

This calculation was performed with the numbers in the 2012 annual reports of 60 Central Valley dairies. The results are shown in Figure 1, with the amount of P recovered in exported or land-applied manure presented as a percent of the nutrient excreted. Many dairies did not hit their recovery target for P. In many cases, the recovery percent is far above or below the target. This suggests that some manure – and thus the nutrients it contains – is not being accurately accounted for.

Things to consider if your own calculations for P recovery are far above or below 100 percent:
  • Make sure all numbers (herd population and manure data) are entered correctly in the annual report. It is easy to put a decimal point in the wrong place or select the wrong unit.
  • Check all your lab reports for results that look different or odd.
  • Make sure all manure exports and application events are entered.
  • Evaluate how manure samples were collected. A composite of many grab samples will better represent your solid manure and provide more representative data.
  • Evaluate your sample preservation methods (that samples are kept cold) and that samples are delivered quickly to the lab.
  • Be sure scales and flow meters are properly installed and calibrated to measure the amount of manure applied or sold.
  • Identify if there is any stockpiled manure retained at the dairy.
  • Keep your agronomist informed of any modifications you identify to improve your P recovery data. This may require that your nutrient budget be modified. Ultimately, good P recovery data is useful to you in accounting for P applications to your crops.
April 25, 2017, Sacramento, CA – The Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board has issued an administrative civil liability penalty of $75,600 against a Visalia-area dairy for failing to file its 2015 annual report on the impacts of its dairy operations on water quality. The board also adopted a cease and desist order against the operation for failure to comply with requirements set forth in the Dairy General Order.

The cease and desist order requires the owners to resume compliance with all the requirements of the Dairy General Order, including filing annual reports, or face the possibility of additional civil penalties and/or judicial enforcement from the California Office of the Attorney General.

"Fully complying with all requirements of the Dairy General Order is needed to protect water quality," said Clay Rodgers, assistant executive officer for the Central Valley Water Board. "Annual reports are a vital component of the Dairy General Order because they inform the board about manure handling activities at dairies, and nutrient management planning on dairy cropland."

"It is critical that dairies adequately implement the requirements of the Dairy General Order including submitting annual reports that show they are taking the steps necessary to protect water quality. In assessing the penalty and adopting the cease and desist order, our board is recognizing a discharger's responsibility to comply with orders issued by our board, including submitting required documents."

According to the CVRWQCB, the owners of the dairy have failed to file annual reports required by dairies regulated under the Dairy General Order since 2009. Further site inspections have determined the owners have failed to implement many other requirements of the Dairy General Order.

The Dairy General Order, first adopted by the Central Valley Water Board in 2007 and revised in 2013, requires dairies to handle waste in ways that preserve and protect water quality. The order contains a number of requirements, including standards for manure and dairy wastewater storage, and criteria for the application of manure and dairy wastewater to cropland. The order also contains reporting requirements for regulated dairies, including the submission of annual reports, submission of a waste management plan, implementation of a nutrient management plan, and implementation of groundwater monitoring. Failure to submit any of the required reports is a violation of the order.
April 18, 2017, Kansas City, MO – Dairy Farmers of America (DFA) and Vanguard Renewables recently announced a strategic partnership to help bring anaerobic digestion technology to more farms across the country.

April 13, 2017, Yakima, WA – A Lower Valley dairy is being sued over claims that it has violated the federal Clean Water Act for years, including contributing to the impact of a manure-related flood in the Outlook area earlier this year.

April 5, 2017, Hartford, CT – Connecticut’s dairy farmers could soon become the newest alternative energy producers, thanks to an innovative “Cow Power” initiative promoted by State Senator Ted Kennedy, Jr., co-chair of the General Assembly’s Environment Committee.

Passing unanimously out of the committee, the Cow Power bill – SB 999 – promotes the use of cow manure as a renewable energy source through the process of anaerobic digestion. The bill also creates an easier, cheaper and faster state and local permitting process for farmers who are interested in adopting this technology.

“‘Cow Power’ is a term for the conversion of cow manure into electricity, enabling farmers to make money by adding a new, desperately-needed source of farm revenue,” said Senator Kennedy. “Instead of storing tons of manure in open cesspools that contaminate the water supply and release tons of climate-destroying methane into the atmosphere, farmers can place the animal waste in an anaerobic digester located on their property.”

An anaerobic digester is a large metal tank that uses bacteria to convert manure and food waste into valuable biogas, which, in turn, provides fuel to a generator that produces electricity that can be used by the farmers or sold on the power grid through virtual net metering. This can allow farmers to assign surplus energy production from their generator to other metered accounts at retail, not lower wholesale, prices.

“Farm-based anaerobic digesters now number over 250 nationwide and have already become significant sources of electricity in places such as Lancaster County, PA, and Vermont,” said Senator Kennedy. “In addition to becoming a valuable and diversified source of electricity, anaerobic digesters solve many other problems, such as eliminating farm odor, reducing manure-based water pollution, and creating a by-product that is non-toxic and pathogen-free that can be used or sold as animal bedding or fertilizer. We need to cut through the red tape, streamlining and simplifying Connecticut’s permitting process to accelerate this technology and save our farms.”

SB 999, which will initially establish a pilot program for three farms in Connecticut, is welcome news for Connecticut’s farmers. The state’s 111 registered dairy farms are seeking new revenue sources to preserve their farms as they struggle to compete with much larger dairy operations in the Midwest, where labor and land costs are cheaper.

“This is a natural process that kills pathogens, recycles nutrients, and more,” said Henry Talmage, executive director of the Connecticut Farm Bureau, at the public hearing for SB 999. “In addition to generating electricity, installing agricultural anaerobic digesters destroys methane and reduces overall carbon emissions, making it outperform other Zero-Rec emitting technologies.”

The goal of the pilot program is also to identify the best technologies, examine economic risks, and modernize Connecticut’s future digester permitting pathway.

Now that SB 999 has passed the Environment Committee, it moves to the floor of the state senate for further action.

April 4, 2017, Kewaunee County, WI – A scientist who's looked into widespread well contamination in Kewaunee County says he's now urging owners of tainted wells to find another water source.

U.S. Department of Agriculture microbiologist Mark Borchardt recently published findings that indicate cow manure is the leading cause of groundwater pollution in Kewaunee County. But he found that human waste from sanitary systems is spoiling drinking water there, too. READ MORE

April 3, 2017, Albany, NY – Cows, whose methane-emitting flatulence has been cited as a culprit in global warming, now are being blamed, along with New York’s State Department of Environmental Conservation, for contaminating the state’s water supply with manure.

Riverkeeper and four other groups, including fly fishers and the Sierra Club, sued the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation in Albany County Supreme Court, demanding it strengthen a general water permit for large farm operations to bring it into compliance with the Clean Water Act. READ MORE

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