State
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
April 27, 2017, Richmond, VA — Excessive livestock manure from millions of turkeys, chickens and cows in Virginia is making its way into the Shenandoah River, polluting the scenic waterway with unsafe levels of E. coli, according to a new report from an environmental advocacy group.

The Environmental Integrity Project analyzed hundreds of state records for the report released Wednesday. In addition to E. coli, which can sicken the swimmers, fishermen and tubers who flock to the river, the report also found elevated levels of phosphorous, which contributes to the growth of algae blooms and low-oxygen "dead zones." READ MORE
April 27, 2017, Wilkes-Barre, PA – A state court judge cited Pennsylvania’s Right To Farm Act (RTFA) in recently dismissing a case from neighbors who filed a lawsuit over the use of liquid swine manure as part of the defendants' farming operations.

Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas Judge Thomas F. Burke Jr. decided to grant motions for summary judgment for the defendants and against a long list of plaintiffs who are landowners and neighbors of the hog operation. READ MORE
April 24, 2017, Lafayette, NY – Here's a statistic to start your day. A dairy farm with 200 cows produces as much manure as the city of Albany and its 98,000 residents produces sewage, according to a leading environmental group.

Communities have experience with managing human waste, but as the state's dairy industry has grown in recent years to meet the needs of yogurt, cheese and milk lovers, so has the problem of manure that poses an environmental threat to waterways and residents.Manure management has become controversial, and farms in Central New York are at the center of the debate. READ MORE

April 13, 2017, Emerald, WI – The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is investigating a large manure spill from a dairy in St. Croix County.

April 10, 2017, Owatonna, MN – Public perception can dictate and lead to public policy. It is important for agriculture professionals to step out of their own boots and look at how they do business from the perspective of the general public. Is it a positive image? If not, the public may seek regulations to change it.

Rick Martens, the executive director of the Minnesota Custom Applicators Association, spoke to a group of manure applicators that were continuing their Commercial Ag Waste Technician training. READ MORE

March 30, 2017, Jefferson City, MO — Bill Reiboldt believes some Missouri farmers don't want local authorities to have any control over them.

"We just want to be regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Missouri Department of Agriculture," said Reiboldt, a Republican state representative from Neosho. "We don't want cities and municipalities regulating the world of agriculture."

HB 175, sponsored by Reiboldt, would no longer allow local government to regulate or create any ordinances or rules regarding "seeds, fertilizers or soil conditioners." Soil conditioners are any substances, excluding fertilizers, which can be added to the soil or applied to plants. READ MORE

February 28, 2017, Indianapolis, IN – The Indiana House approved a more streamlined process for authorizing confined animal feeding operations under a bill passed Feb. 27.

Rep. David Wolkins, R-Warsaw, gave an extended explanation of the bill to his colleagues because of confusion about what it does. For example, he said, the bill eliminates use of the term “prior approval” in favor of a “permit.” That has created concern by opponents of the measure, but Wolkins said all CAFOs must still receive permission to be built and operate. READ MORE

December 6, 2016, Springfield, IL – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) recently released the results of the 2015 Producer Survey, which was designed to accurately reflect the nutrient management and conservation practices used for the state Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy (NLRS).

The survey questions covered nutrient management strategies, cover crops, edge-of-field practices, use of soil tests, erosion management, and knowledge of certain NLRS components. Farmers were asked to respond based on crop years 2015 and 2011, which was selected as a base year.

“This is the first opportunity for farmers to really tell their collective story regarding the use of nutrient management conservation practices in Illinois,” said Warren Goetsch, deputy director of the Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDOA). “This survey is proof that our agricultural community has a good story to tell. Illinois farmers are taking ownership of these uses, specifically agricultural non-point nutrient loss, and they are willing and able to meet the challenge through voluntary involvement and best management practice adoption. They are truly doing a great job!”

Per the survey, the majority of Illinois corn acres follow the recommended MRTN (Maximum Return to Nitrogen) application guidelines, and this number is increasing. In 2011, 70 percent of the corn acres were using MRTN and by 2015 that number had increased to 81 percent. In addition, more than half of all surveyed farmers indicate that are either knowledgeable or very knowledgeable of the aspects of the 4R Strategy of Right Nutrient Source at the Right Rate, in the Right Place and Right timing. Between 2011 and 2015, farmers moved to a split application system of less than 50 percent fall/winter applied applications with the remaining Nitrogen applications split between pre-plant and side-dress on nearly half a million acres.

Farmers have also shown increased adoption of cover crops since 2011. With almost half a million acres of cover crops on tile-drained ground, farmers have more than doubled their use of cover crops in the five-year period of the survey.

Illinois Farm Bureau President Richard Guebert Jr. credits the collective work of farmer groups, agricultural retail organizations, university research, Illinois agency leadership and the farm community in general for the success being shown in the adoption of conservation practices.

“The NLRS set aggressive goals for the ag community to address nutrient efficiency and through various partnerships across the industry we have once again shown that farmers are stewards of natural resources and have taken seriously the challenges presented to us,” he said.

The survey was funded by a partnership between the Illinois Nutrient Research & Education Council (NREC) and the Illinois Farm Bureau.

“This survey is an important part of the Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy and provides an analysis of the adoption and understanding of the practices outlined in the strategy,” said Mark Schleusener, Illinois State statistician with USDA/NASS. “The results establish a set of baseline statistics and also show the changes in cultural practices from 2011 to 2015. With support from NREC and the Illinois Farm Bureau, we will look to repeat this survey on a bi-annual basis to continue 1 to track these issues.”

The full summary of survey results is available at: https://www.nass.usda.gov/Statistics_by_State/Illinois/Publications/Current_News_Release/2016/Nutrient_Loss_Survey_Results.pdf.

December 5, 2016, Hot Springs, VA – Over the past two years, hundreds of Virginia farmers have taken proactive steps to protect water quality on their land.

Virginia Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Dr. Basil Gooden applauded their efforts Nov. 29 at the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation’s 2016 Annual Convention in Hot Springs. READ MORE

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