Regulations

July 27, 2016, Nebraska City, NE – Otoe County zoning administrator Dave Schmitz recently told the county board that adjustments are proposed to livestock zoning regulations that a Nebraska court called the strictest in the state. The proposal would still require a mile separation between livestock operations and new houses, but the setbacks between houses and fields, where manure might be applied, may be scaled back. READ MORE
January 6, 2016, Guelph, Ont – Back by popular demand, the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association recently announced the return of the Manure and Biosolids Management Program. Part of the Great Lakes Agricultural Stewardship Initiative (GLASI), the Manure and Biosolids Management Program is available to custom applicators in the Lake Erie and Lake St. Clair watersheds and the Lake Huron southeast shores watershed areas. “The unique advantage of a program designed for custom applicators lies in each business’ ability to impact a larger geography than funding individual on-farm projects,” expressed Andrew Graham, executive director of OSCIA. “It’s the multiplier effect that is so significant within the Manure and Biosolids Management Program.” With algal blooms threatening the quality of water in the Great Lakes, the Great Lakes Agricultural Stewardship Initiative aims to address water quality issues while improving soil health across southwestern Ontario. The Manure and Biosolids Management Program helps drive the GLASI objectives by facilitating the implementation of best management practices (BMPs) that protect soil, minimize the risk of spills, and improve application accuracy to reduce phosphorus loss from the field edge. The first generation of the GLASI Manure and Biosolids Management Program ran this past spring, funding over 75 projects and benefitting nearly 200,000 acres of farmland across the target geography in 2015. Bringing the program back for a second round this winter will further support proactive management by custom applicators and continue to make a positive impact on Lake Erie, Lake St. Clair, and the southeast shores of Lake Huron. Funding for the Manure and Biosolids Management Program is available on a first-come, first-served basis. In order to be eligible, applicants must have an up-to-date Nutrient Application Technician License and/or an up-to-date Prescribed Materials Application Business License and operate in the GLASI eligible area. Funding is provided through Growing Forward 2, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative. For more information on the Manure and Biosolids Management Program, visit the OSCIA website at ontariosoilcrop.org or contact OSCIA directly at 226-706-8669 or
December 22, 2015, Kewaunee County, WI — Officials in Kewaunee County are moving forward with a feasibility study designed to address the issue of farm runoff. County leaders say a bio-digester system could process manure from thousands and thousands of cows. READ MORE
November 2, 2015, Dane County, WI – A new technology that would completely separate all nutrients from manure collected at the Town of Springfield digester, leaving clean water behind, may not be in the cards. Last week, the Dane County Environment, Agriculture and Natural Resource (EANR) Committee voted to amend the county executive’s 2016 budget, removing the $500,000 slated to fund the NuWay system at the digester. READ MORE
September 22, 2015, Camp Verde, AZ – Sharing in the state of Arizona just got a little easier, for manure anyway. The Oak Creek Watershed Council launched its free web-based Manure Share Program on Sept. 14. The online module allows any resident of Arizona the opportunity to share or find free manure across the state. READ MORE
May 28, 2015, Winona, MN – The debate over the future of livestock farming in Winona County began recently. The county Planning Commission is gearing up to consider raising or eliminating the county's animal unit cap, which limits the size of livestock feedlots to 1,500 animal units or 1,071 mature dairy cows. Members agree the cap has a significant effect on many issues: how family farms operate, how successful they are, how expensive land is, how much perennial ground cover is grown in the county, how clean local surface water and drinking water is, and how vibrant rural communities are. However, Planning Commission members disagreed on whether raising the cap would help or hurt family farms, rural communities, and local water quality. READ MORE
May 11, 2017, Olympia, WA – The dairy industry and environmental groups have come up with 19 legal challenges to the Washington Department of Ecology’s new manure-control law. The Pollution Control Hearings Board, the forum for appealing Ecology actions, has scheduled a week-long hearing for Dec. 4-8 in Tumwater on the state’s Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation permits. The appeals did not keep the rules from taking effect in March. READ MORE
About 12 years ago, prompted by water quality concerns, the government of Manitoba, Canada, slapped a “temporary” ban on new swine barns. A few years later, that “temporary” ban became a moratorium on new barn construction in 35 municipalities throughout the province.
May 8, 2017, Raleigh, NC – Gov. Roy Cooper’s decision May 5 to veto a bill protecting North Carolina’s hog farms from lawsuits sets up the fourth legislative vote to override a Cooper veto this year. If Cooper, a Democrat, doesn’t muster enough votes, the Republican-dominated legislature will hand Cooper his fourth defeat. House Bill 467 was passed in April in response to 26 lawsuits pending in federal court against the state’s largest hog producer, Murphy-Brown, a subsidiary of Smithfield Foods. In the suits, nearly 500 residents say hog farms have made their lives unbearable from odors, flies, buzzards, pig carcasses and other aggravations. READ MORE
May 4, 2017, Ookala, HI – Two community groups in Hawaii – Kupale Ookala and the Center for Food Safety – plan to sue a dairy operation on Hawaii's Big Island for endangering local waterways with manure.In their notice, the groups claim that the dairy manure management and storage practices are "improper" and have caused, and continue to cause, discharges of liquid and solid manure into streams flowing into the Pacific Ocean."The residents of Ookala were disappointed that the state Department of Health and Department of Agriculture didn't take action in 2014 when reports from an investigation clearly showed wrongdoing," said Charlene Nishida, member of the community group Kupale Ookala. "Our community is standing strong and we want to be in the driver's seat so we can hold this polluter accountable and protect our community."The dairy farm in question milks nearly 2,000 cows on 2,500 acres uphill from Ookala, northwest of Hilo, HI. All of its animal waste is to be stored and used onsite, including storage in manure lagoons and sprayed as liquid fertilizer on its crop fields. According to the environmental groups, residents of Ookala have observed the dairy spraying liquid manure on crop fields during high wind days, or immediately before or during rainfall. They also allege the local community has witnessed brown murky water smelling of animal feces flowing from the dairy into the community's waterways and, ultimately, into the Pacific Ocean.In 2014, inspectors from the Hawaii Department of Health confirmed manure runoff from the dairy had discharged into local streams, but no fines were issued. In a December 2016 inspection report, the department noted that the dairy's lagoon systems were poorly maintained and found there was "a high potential" of discharge. Any unpermitted discharge from the operation would violate state and federal water pollution laws.The community groups intend to take the dairy to court after the 60-day notice period required by the Clean Water Act.
May 4, 2017, Pennsylvania – On the day of the inspection of the 350 acres he farms, Jay M. Diller drove his skid loader from the barn to meet staff from the district conservation office. The farmer pulled out large files from his desk and got ready.Pennsylvania farmers like Diller are finding themselves under increased scrutiny as the state and many county conservation districts have ramped up their efforts to check whether farms have required manure management and sediment control plans. The inspections are part of the state's Chesapeake Bay "reboot" strategy announced last year that was aimed at getting its Bay cleanup efforts on track. READ MORE
May 4, 2017, Auburn, NY – Several New York environmental groups have filed a lawsuit against the state's Department of Environmental Conservation regarding the agency's newly released permit for large animal farms operating within watersheds. The groups argue that the permit violates the federal Clean Water Act.The complaint was filed April 11 in state Supreme Court in Albany County by Earthjustice, a nonprofit environmental law organization. READ MORE
February 8, 2017, Olympia, WA – Western lawmakers have proposed an amendment to the federal Solid Waste Disposal Act to help farmers understand which manure management rules they’re supposed to follow. HR 848, the Farm Regulatory Certainty Act, would reaffirm and clarify Congress’ intention regarding manure management under the Resources Conservation and Recovery Act of 1976, also known as the Solid Waste Disposal Act. READ MORE
November 30, 2016, Washington, DC – The U.S.Department of Agriculture is seeking new proposals for cutting-edge projects to provide new conservation opportunities through its competitive Conservation Innovation Grants program. The department will invest up to $25 million for projects sparking the development and adoption of innovative conservation technologies and approaches in areas such as conservation finance, data analytics, and precision conservation. READ MORE
April 1, 2016, Washington, DC — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently announced the winners of Phase I of the Nutrient Recycling Challenge – a competition to develop affordable technologies to recycle nutrients from livestock manure. The winners received their awards at a ceremony at the White House Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, DC, the first day of a two-day summit with innovators. Every year, livestock producers manage more than a billion tons of animal manure, which contains valuable nutrients – nitrogen and phosphorus – that plants need to grow. Manure can be a resource as a renewable fertilizer, but should be used properly to minimize water pollution and build healthy soils. In November 2015, EPA launched the Nutrient Recycling Challenge in partnership with pork and dairy producers, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and environmental and scientific experts. The goal of the challenge is to find affordable technologies that can help farmers manage nutrients, create valuable products and protect the environment. “The Nutrient Recycling Challenge is a great example of EPA partnering with farmers to find solutions that benefit everyone,” said Ellen Gilinsky, senior policy advisor for the EPA’s Office of Water. “Through competition, together we are driving innovation to achieve environmental results.” EPA received 75 concept papers from around the world and selected 34 submissions to continue on to Phase II of the challenge. EPA is awarding a total of $30,000 in cash prizes to the top 10 submissions (four Winners and six Honorable Mentions). The following are descriptions of the winning concepts: Slurry Separation with Coanda Effect Separator (by Ahimbisibwe Micheal of Bravespec Systems Ltd.) – Using centrifuge technology to separate smaller nutrient particles from manure, with fewer energy inputs and lower costs. Manure Convertor (by Ilan Levy of Paulee Cleantec Ltd.) – Using chemical processes to rapidly turn manure into a non-toxic, fertile ash fertilizer. Producing Nutrients Concentrated Bio-solids via AnSBEARs (by Bo Hu, Hongjian Lin, and Xin Zhang of the University of Minnesota) – Creating a dry biosolids fertilizer by using a novel anaerobic digestion and solid-liquid separation system. Removal of Dissolved N and P from Livestock Manure by Air Stripping (by Hiroko Yoshida of Centrisys Corporation) – Using CO2 stripping and other processes to create a range of fertilizers from anaerobically digested manure. The 34 selected submissions were also invited to the Nutrient Recycling Challenge DC Summit, in Washington, DC on March 30-31, 2016. The summit will provide a forum for innovators to meet experts and other innovators, as well as learn about resources to develop their ideas into real-life technologies. EPA seeks to create a “brain trust” that can design nutrient recovery technologies that can achieve what both farmers and the environment need. Partners in the Nutrient Recycling Challenge are: American Biogas Council American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers Ben & Jerry’s Cabot Creamery Cooperative Cooper Farms CowPots Dairy Farmers of America Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy Iowa State University Marquette University National Milk Producers Federation National Pork Producers Council Newtrient, LLC Smithfield Foods Tyson Foods U.S. Department of Agriculture Washington State University Water Environment Research Federation World Wildlife Fund For more information, visit www.nutrientrecyclingchallenge.org.
March 14, 2016, Washington, DC – The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) wants input from stakeholders as it develops the framework for a risk assessment on the use of raw manure and other biological soil amendments of animal origin as fertilizer on produce farms. This has been a controversial issue as the FDA proposed, and recently finalized, the Produce Safety rule mandated by the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). The agency is concerned about the potential of raw manure and other such amendments to contain disease-causing bacteria. Growers see raw manure and other such amendments as an effective way to enrich the quality of their soil. The FDA is planning to conduct a risk assessment to determine how much consumer health is put at risk by the use of raw manure as fertilizer in growing crops covered by the final Produce Safety rule, and what can be done to help prevent people from getting sick. Before starting the assessment, the agency wants the help of stakeholders in the produce industry, the animal agriculture industry, academia and members of the public in developing the model for this work. A notice published in the Federal Register requests public comments and scientific data and information, including information about how farms use raw manure and what strategies should be considered to reduce public health risk. For more information: Federal Register Notice for the Risk Assessment FSMA Final Rule on Produce Safety: Raw Manure; Questions and Answers with Samir Assar
  In late February, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced an investment of $25 million in watersheds across the country to help improve water quality. According to the press release accompanying the announcement, the funding will help agriculture producers apply conservation measures in 187 high-priority watersheds – including 17 new ones – in hopes of improving water quality downstream. The funding is available through the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) National Water Quality Initiative (NWQI), which works with farmers and landowners to implement voluntary practices, such as constructing filter strips, implementing nutrient management plans, and building terraces and buffers. The program has been in place since 2012. Successful initiatives to date include Ohio’s East Branch South Fork Sugar Creek, one of the state’s most degraded watersheds. Eight farms own 75 per cent of the agricultural land within the watershed and have been working with their local soil and water conservation district to implement changes, including building waste storage facilities and covering animal feedlots plus manure storage areas. In Iowa, agricultural producers have been working to reduce phosphorus runoff into Walk Lake Inlet, part of Black Hawk Lake. So far, sediment runoff has been reduced by 1.630 tons annually and phosphorus by 3,544 pounds annually. The NRCS plans to improve its water quality efforts in 2016 by introducing a new evaluation tool – resource stewardship evaluation – to help producers assess how their farm is operating, the value of the conservation projects currently in place and how they can improve their efforts. Earlier in February, the NRCS also announced $720 million in funding through the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) for 84 projects across the country. Many of the projects involve providing assistance for livestock operators to help improve water quality, enhance soil health and protect agricultural viability. Maryland and Delaware will be receiving $4.5 million for a joint project aimed at meeting TMDL goals within the Chesapeake Bay region. Conservation district staff in Maryland will be working with dairy farmers to install modern liquid separation technologies, reduce barnyard runoff and improve animal waste storage. A separate project in Delaware is aimed at helping new poultry farmers gain access to composters or mortality freezers plus construct poultry waste structures and protect heavy use areas in a bid to reduce nitrogen and phosphorus leaching and runoff. Minnesota plans to use part of its funding to assist feedlots under 300 animal units in meeting state and local ordinances in the areas of feedlot runoff and land application of manure. If you’re interested in taking part in any of these projects or possibly gaining access to some of the funding available, I’d strongly suggest you contact your local soil and water conservation district or your state’s branch of the NRCS. Financial and professional assistance is available to manage your manure issues.      
March 2, 2016 – As in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, the federal government has stepped in to speed progress in the Gulf of Mexico’s water quality dilemma. The EPA’s goal is reduce the size of the hypoxic “dead” zone by two-thirds by 2035. Ellen Gilinsky, the agency’s senior advisor for water, says that will require a 45 percent reduction in the amount of nitrogen and phosphorus entering the Mississippi River. READ MORE
August 12, 2016, Ontario, OH – The Ontario planning commission recently voted 4-0 to recommend that city council tweak its noxious odors ordinance, making it potentially a third-degree misdemeanor for farmers to fail to fix issues with strong manure smells from animals. Under the proposed language council will consider, either the zoning inspector or his designee (probably a police officer) would go to the farm to verify whether there is an odor issue that should be corrected. READ MORE
June 24, 2016, Tarboro, NC – A North Carolina Federal Court ruled that an air pollution lawsuit involving a pig farm can proceed. The lawsuit against the Hanor Company of Wisconsin was brought by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) plus Sound Rivers, Inc. and involves the farm’s failure to report its ammonia emissions. The court rejected Hanor’s argument that an 11-year-old agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) exempts large farms from reporting emissions while the agency conducts air quality studies. According to the HSUS, the EPA has never completed the air studies at issue.
January 19, 2015 – In order to clean the air of pollutants, biotechnology expert Raul Pineda Olmedo, from the National University of Mexico (UNAM), designed a biofilter that uses microorganisms living in the shell of the peanut. The research from the department of Environmental Technology noted that microorganisms grow naturally on peanut shell, which can be used to clean the air. Furthermore, in Mexico this material is generated in large amounts and is considered a worthless agricultural residue. The idea is a prototype filter with peanut shells, which cultivates the microorganisms to degrade toxic pollutants into carbon dioxide and water, thereby achieving clean air. "The peanut shell is special for these applications because it is naturally hollow and has an area of ​​contact with air, which favors the development of microorganisms," said Pineda Olmedo. He also said it has been observed that this organic material can be applied to biotechnology as biological filters similar to those used by cars, but instead of stopping dust it can degrade the contaminants. The prototype is similar to a bell or kitchen extractor, but it not only absorbs and stores polluting vapors, it degrades and purifies the air. The design consists of a filter made with peanut shells containing microorganisms, which purify the air. For optimum development it should be in a temperature-controlled environment. Olmedo Pineda explained that the filter takes on average 28 days to synthesize microorganisms such as Fusarium and Brevibacterium. Bacteria and fungi take the carbon from pollution to reproduce and breath. In Mexico this technology has not been exploited extensively. The researcher currently seeks to commercialize the innovation, which is a solution applicable to everyday life.
September 1, 2015 – The recent outbreak of avian influenza, a highly contagious viral disease that has infected about 48 million birds in the United States, resulted in a significant loss to the poultry industry. The initial response by the poultry industry to prevent widespread avian influenza was to more stringently enforce the U.S. Department of Agriculture biosecurity measures defined by the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). However, the continuous spread of the avian influenza made the industry wonder if the disease is airborne and transmitted through ventilation air of poultry facilities. We are looking at major air emissions — ammonia gas and dust particles — from poultry facilities and their potential effects on poultry health to explore the need of additional biosecurity measures to prevent transmission of infectious diseases among poultry in the future. READ MORE
September 1, 2015, Washburn, WI — The Large Scale Livestock Study Committee listened to a presentation from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) Dr. Robert Thiboldeaux during its recent meeting. Thiboldeaux is the senior toxicologist of Wisconsin Bureau of Environmental and Occupational Health. His presentation was called Air Quality and Livestock Operations. READ MORE
July 25, 2014, Ames, IA — The latest technology designed to reduce the odor from hog manure will be the focus of a conference next month at Iowa State University. The Biofilter Conference on August 20 is held for producers and managers of animal feeding operations and others interested in learning about development of the latest equipment. ISU agricultural and biosystems engineering professor Steve Hoff says biofilters can be an effective means to reduce odor and other gas emissions from ventilated animal and manure storage facilities. He says the conference will outline costs, effectiveness, management and other details, and provide sources of science-based information on biofilters. A demonstration of biofilter operation with an Iowa State biofilter mobile unit is planned. The event is being held in Room 260 of the Scheman Building. For more information, contact Steve Hoff at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or 515-291-2726.
Mar. 8, 2013 - Manure spills happen for a range of reasons—a manure spreader rolls over, a hose breaks, a storage pond overflows after a relentless downpour. Whatever the cause, these events are such a threat to the environment that states have emergency teams to deal with the hazard. Typically, the responders build dams to contain the spill and then pump out the contaminated water. Although cleanup efforts start as quickly as possible, a fish kill in a nearby stream is often the first evidence that a spill has taken place. Another problem is that sediments in the contaminated water channel can capture phosphorus from the manure and release the nutrient back into the water—sometimes for months on end—at levels exceeding U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) criteria. But there were few details available about the links between manure spills and phosphorus until Agricultural Research Service soil scientist Doug Smith and doctoral candidate Shalamar Armstrong began to study the issue. Smith, who works at the ARS National Soil Erosion Research Laboratory in West Lafayette, Indiana, was Armstrong's technical advisor throughout the study. ARS soil scientist Chi-hua Huang, also in West Lafayette, and soil scientist April Leytem, who works at the ARS Northwest Irrigation and Soils Research Laboratory in Kimberly, Idaho, were also part of the team. Sizing Up Sediments Armstrong collected sediments from two drainage ditches in the Cedar Creek subwatershed of the St. Joseph River Watershed in northeast Indiana. The land surrounding each ditch was primarily used for row cropping. Three sampling locations were selected so that the study would include sediments from drainage areas that ranged from 768 acres to 10,625 acres. This methodology also ensured that the scientists would be able to assess the effects of different particle size distributions and physiochemical properties on phosphorus absorption. The West Lafayette team added the sediments to an artificial water channel called a "fluvarium" and used swine manure minimally diluted with water to create their own worst-case manure "spill." Then, after 24 hours, they cleaned it up using standard operating protocols for remediating contaminated spill sites. The researchers found the spill simulation initially resulted in an average water column dissolved phosphorus concentration of 5.57 milligrams per liter. The concentrations dropped to between 0.19 and 0.21 milligrams per liter 24 hours later, but they still exceeded EPA standards for rivers, streams, and drainage ditches in the Cedar Creek subwatershed. The scientists also documented that after the spill, the channel sediments were able to capture significant amounts of phosphorus from the water, with adsorption rates ranging from 8.9 to 16.7 milligrams per square meter of sediment per hour. The finest clay loam sediments from the upstream channel sites adsorbed the greatest levels. "These clay loam sediments have a larger surface area available for the chemical reactions that bind the phosphorus to the sediments," Smith explains. "These sediments also have the highest levels of iron, aluminum, and organic carbon, all of which enhance the ability of the sediments to bind phosphorus." However, after the simulated spill cleanup, all the sediments released phosphorus back into the water at rates that caused the phosphorus level in the ditch water to exceed EPA's maximum level by at least 67 percent. Even though the fine-textured clay loam sediments adsorbed the highest levels of phosphorus, the course-textured sandy sediments from the largest drainage areas released the most phosphorus back into the water after cleanup was complete. "These results strongly suggested that the current approaches to remediating manure spills need improvement," Smith says. An Answer in Alum Fortunately, the team had some ideas about where to start looking for improvements. Earlier studies showed that adding alum to poultry litter, swine manure, and other agricultural byproducts substantially mitigates phosphorus release. So they ran a series of tests to see how well alum amendments could stop, or at least slow, the release of phosphorus deposited in channel sediments after manure spills. The researchers added different levels of an alum-calcium carbonate mix to the same sediments they tested in the first study. The calcium carbonate was included to prevent the acidic alum from significantly increasing the water's acidity. They observed that amending the contaminated sediments with 1.6 milligrams of alum-calcium carbonate per gram of sediment suppressed phosphorus release by 92 percent in sandy sediments and by 72 percent in clay loam and loamy sand sediments. Higher amendment levels suppressed phosphorus release in all three soil types by up to 100 percent. In general, greater rates of alum were needed to suppress phosphorus release from the clay loam sediments than from either the loamy sand or the sandy sediments. On average, clay loam sediments required 54 percent more alum to mitigate the release of phosphorus than sediments containing at least 60 percent sand. Adding calcium carbonate to the alum did not completely protect the water column from increased acidification. But water flowing over sediments amended with the alum-calcium carbonate mix was less acidic than water flowing over sediments amended solely with alum. Data from the study was used to develop models to predict the rate of alum application that would be needed to mitigate phosphorus release from contaminated sediments, based on sediment properties. "Our results demonstrated that alum can help sediments retain phosphorus after a manure spill," says Armstrong, who is now an assistant professor at Illinois State University. "We think it has potential for enhancing current manure spill remediation methods." Findings from both studies were published in the Journal of Environmental Quality in 2009 and the Journal of Environmental Monitoring in 2012. "These are the first studies that have examined in detail how manure spills affect in-stream phosphorus fate," adds Smith. This research is part of Water Availability and Watershed Management, an ARS national program (#211) described at www.nps.ars.usda.gov. "Measuring and Managing Impacts of Manure Spills" was published in the March 2013 issue of Agricultural Research magazine.

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