Animal Housing
February 26, 2018, Des Moines, IA – Recent application denials at the county level mean more Iowans see the need for a moratorium on new factory farms, according to Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement.

The Iowa Pork Producers Association said a moratorium on hog farms would devastate Iowa's economy and livestock producers. READ MORE
Published in Swine
January 19, 2018, Holland, MN – The Pipestone County Board of Adjustments, over the objections of a handful of residents, approved a variance allowing a local farm to build a feedlot located less than a mile from the city limits of Holland.

A variance was required because the county’s zoning ordinance prohibits new feedlots or expansions of existing feedlots within one mile of “the corporate limits of any incorporated community.” The proposed location is 220 feet short of the required mile. READ MORE
Published in Regional
January 17, 2018, Little Rock, AR – Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality has denied the application for a permit to a Mt. Judea area hog operation, according to a letter issued by the agency's director on Jan. 10.

In response, the farm owner filed a request for a stay of the state's decision before the Arkansas Pollution Control and Ecology Commission, the appellate body for ADEQ. The farmers released a statement calling the department's decision to deny their permit request "politically motivated." The statement says the Newton County farm hasn't had any environmental violations since opening nearly five years ago. READ MORE
Published in Swine
January 17, 2018, Visalia, CA – Conservation groups sued Tulare County recently for approving a climate action plan for feedlots and other cattle operations that could worsen air quality and undercut California’s greenhouse gas reduction goals.

The lawsuit asks the court to set aside the county’s climate-action plan and animal-confinement facilities plan until officials identify steps to cut pollution from industrial dairies and feedlots and disclose the true environmental and financial costs of those emissions.

“I’ve seen firsthand how air pollution from industrial dairies leads to health problems like headaches in my own family,” said Tom Frantz, executive director of Association of Irritated Residents and an almond farmer in the San Joaquin Valley. “Tulare County must take stronger steps to protect people in the community. Six thousand animals in one dairy have the waste stream of a city of half a million people, and there are common sense ways to reduce the air pollution from dairies that the county overlooks.”

Tulare County is home to more than one million cattle and produces more milk than any other U.S. county.

Cattle operations in the county produce the equivalent of 7.5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide per year – approximately 63 percent of the county’s greenhouse gas emissions in 2013. By 2023, that number is expected to grow to the equivalent of almost nine million metric tons of carbon dioxide per year.

“Tulare County has to stop ignoring the unhealthy reality that dairies and feedlots release nearly two-thirds of the county’s greenhouse pollution,” said Hannah Connor, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Instead of protecting public health, county officials are sabotaging efforts to curb climate change’s devastating effects.”

The groups note that the county’s Dairy and Feedlot Climate Action Plan and Animal Confinement Facilities Plan undermine California’s greenhouse gas reduction goals. According to the groups, the plans allow cattle operations to avoid setting mandatory emissions reduction targets for the livestock sector and avoid enforceable mitigation for these operations.

“It’s shocking that in 2018 the industrial dairy and feedlot industry is still receiving special treatment under these climate action plans despite the industry’s notorious role in driving climate change,” said Gordon Nipp of the Sierra Club. “This lawsuit seeks to hold this industry accountable by ensuring that common-sense measures are put in place to meaningfully acknowledge, address and limit the greenhouse gas emissions from this sector.”

Methods to reduce air, greenhouse gas and water pollution from industrial cattle operations include enclosing manure during storage and spreading appropriate levels of manure on fields. Using “dry scrape” systems instead of “wet flush” systems to move manure out of feeding and milking barns avoids excess water use and reduces air and water pollution from open manure lagoons.

The lawsuit was filed in Tulare County Superior Court by the Center for Biological Diversity, Sierra Club and Association for Irritated Residents under the California Environmental Quality Act.
Published in State
You might wonder what dry weather and feedlot runoff would have in common. On the one hand, a spell of dry weather can cause expanding areas of moderate drought and dry soils. But dry conditions also make for an excellent time to maintain your feedlot runoff control system.
Published in Beef
An over-wintering cow-calf beef herd produces manure – quite a lot of it.
Published in Beef
Iowa’s Smith family, owners of SFI Inc, have been on a decades-long quest to prove and demonstrate that it pays to practice good land stewardship that includes manure composting, capturing nutrients before they leave their feedlots, and recycling them as organic fertilizer on their row crops.
Published in Beef
Christmas came early for pork producers in Manitoba, Canada, last month.
Published in Swine
December 14, 2017, University Park, PA – Changing weather patterns pose significant challenges for modern dairy farmers.

Deciding how best to react to those changes to ensure the vitality of dairy farms — while being good stewards of the environment — can present a bit of a conundrum for some farmers, especially if they are pressed for time and resources. What are the best management practices? Are there technologies that can help? Is there current research on the subject?

Now, those farmers can see sustainability principles in action with just a few mouse clicks, thanks to an interactive "virtual farm" website developed by researchers in Penn State University's College of Agricultural Sciences and Penn State Extension, in partnership with the project's lead, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Cornell University and the Dairy Innovation Center.

"The objective of this project is provide a 'one-stop shop' for all dairy sustainability information," said Eileen Fabian, professor of agricultural engineering and environmental biophysics in Penn State's Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering. "The beauty of it is that one can take a tour of a sustainable dairy farm without stepping foot on an actual farm. The resources are accessible, free and can be viewed anytime from anywhere."

Fabian explained that the catalyst for this major undertaking was a growing movement in the dairy industry to adopt practices that mitigate the negative effects of agricultural operations on the environment, while securing the future sustainability of farms.

In Pennsylvania alone, there are 6,650 dairy farms — the second largest number of dairy farms nationally — according to the Center for Dairy Excellence. In addition to producing 10.7 billion pounds of milk annually, the state's dairy industry provides 60,000 jobs and has an estimated annual economic impact of $7 billion.

"It's a tremendous industry, and its people really care about the environment and their farms," Fabian said. "Those farmers want to do their part to protect the integrity of soil, water, air and animal habitats and to keep agriculture a strong industry. And it's our mission at Penn State to help them do just that — we believe this website will really help to move the needle."

The website, designed and developed by the creative services team at WPSU Penn State, has two virtual farms: One is a model of a 1,500-cow facility, while the other is a smaller-scale operation of 150 animals. Users can click on the various aspects of the farm, such as pastures, housing, manure storage facilities, feed silos, milking facilities and more, and information related to that specific area will pop up, allowing for further exploration.

Topics include herd management, feed management, milk production, crops and soils, manure management and greenhouse gases. The site's database includes a broad range of articles, extension fact sheets, models, images and graphics. The layers of information range from exploration of the farm site with basic information to higher levels of technical and research information, data, and models.

For example, if one clicks on the manure storage facility, several links will appear, enabling viewers to scan information on manure management plans, potential hazards caused by improper treatment, preventing infiltration into surrounding water sources, and other subjects.

"The site is user-friendly, meaning it's fairly easy for users to interact at a level they feel comfortable with," Fabian said. "They can keep it simple or dig down deep and find peer-reviewed research papers."

Fabian said a project of this magnitude requires interdisciplinary collaboration, and she acknowledged the support of Penn State researchers Daniel Hofstetter, extension and research assistant in agricultural and biological engineering; Tom Richards, professor of agricultural and biological engineering; Heather Karsten, associate professor of crop production/ecology; Douglas Beegle, distinguished professor emeritus of agronomy; and Robert Nicholas, research associate, and Chris Forest, associate professor of climate dynamics, College of Earth and Mineral Sciences.

Now that the team successfully has launched its website, Fabian sees great potential in creating additional virtual farms, perhaps focusing on poultry production and animal welfare issues.

The five-year project received a $10 million grant from the Coordinated Ag Project Program of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

To tour the farm, visit Additional information about best practices and sustainability information can be found by visiting the Penn State Extension website.
Published in Dairy
November 21, 2017, Abbotsford, WI – Dukestead Acres is no stranger to technology, using automated calf feeders, cow brushes and alley scrapers on their farm. More recently, the rural Abbotsford farm installed an automated bedding machine, one of the first in the U.S.

The farm is a family-owned and -operated dairy that milks 390 cows twice a day. When the family decided to expand their barn earlier this year, they began looking at moving away from sand bedding. READ MORE
Published in Dairy
Innovative research is reshaping what is known about ammonia and related emissions from feedlots. And that new knowledge may help the industry to adjust its management, shape and react to public policy more effectively.
Published in Beef
November 15, 2017 – Livestock facilities can be odorous, including systems that manage beef cattle on deep-bedded pack.

Based on the results of past research, bedding mixtures containing pine shavings produce less odors and have lower levels of total E. coli compared to bedding mixtures containing other crop- and wood-based materials. Unfortunately, availability and affordability may limit the use of pine bedding in beef deep-bedded facilities.

But recent research from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service has found that some odor relief is possible if pine bedding is mixed with readily available and affordable corn stover bedding.

During the study, mixtures of bedding materials, containing zero, 10, 20, 30, 40, 60, 80, and 100 percent pine chips combined with corn stover, were tested over a seven-week period for odor generation and presence of E. coli. Results showed that including even 10 percent pine chips in the mixture lowered the concentration of skatole, a highly odorous compound emitted from livestock waste. When 100 percent pine chips were used, skatole was reduced by 88 percent compared to using corn stover alone. Including greater than 60 percent pine chips in the mixture increased the concentration of odorous sulfur compounds up to 2.4 times compared to corn stover.

Bedding material did not affect E. coli.

Researchers are suggesting a bedding material mixture that contains 30 to 60 percent pine and 40 to 70 percent corn stover may be the ideal combination to mitigate odorous emissions from livestock facilities using deep-bedded systems.
Published in Beef
Ephrata, PA – Mark Mosemann has used half-a-dozen manure systems since he came back to his family’s dairy farm in 2000.

There were the bad old days of daily hauling, which the Warfordsburg family accomplished without a skid loader.

There was the new dairy complex with alley scrapers, then a dabble with sand bedding that got expensive, and finally a test of – and then wholesale shift to – separated manure solids.

Mosemann is still looking at upgrades, including a cover for the manure pit. READ MORE
Published in Dairy
November 13, 2017, Winnipeg, Man – New hog barns will be built Manitoba.

After an all-night session at the Manitoba Legislature, Bill 24 has passed its final reading and received royal assent.

The newly passed act amends The Environment Act, removing general prohibitions for the expansion of hog barns and manure storage facilities. Bill 24 also strikes the winter manure application ban from the Environment Act, although winter application would continue to be prohibited for all livestock operations in Manitoba under the Livestock Manure and Mortalities Management Regulation. READ MORE
Published in State
November 1, 2017, Dyersville, IA – The Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) recently received laboratory results confirming that ammonia toxicity in runoff from a dairy was responsible for an October fish kill in Dubuque County.

Test results from water samples DNR collected Oct. 9 showed elevated levels of ammonia below a manure storage basin at the New Vienna operation. Additional test results ruled out other livestock facilities and a field where manure had recently been land applied.

The DNR fisheries report shows 60,278 fish were killed along nearly seven miles of stream, including an unnamed tributary of Hickory Creek, Hickory Creek and Hewitt Creek. More than 42,000 were minnows, shiners, dace and chubs. The remainder included primarily suckers, darters and stonerollers.

The DNR will seek fish restitution of $21,712.44, which includes a fish replacement value of $19,416.15 and the cost of the fisheries investigation.

The investigation started Oct. 9 at Highway 136 bridge in Dyersville, following a report of dead fish in Hewitt Creek. DNR staff followed dead fish upstream until they found evidence of manure washed into a stream.
Published in Dairy
November 1, 2017, Stratford, IA – The Stratford Fire Department responded to a hog building explosion southeast of Stratford Oct. 31.

The wall on one side of the building was damaged by the blast. According to reports, workers had just started to stir the pit and were pumping manure when the explosion occurred. READ MORE
Published in Swine
October 27, 2017, Des Moines, IA – Iowa's largest pork producer is rapidly expanding, adding nearly 90,000 pigs at time when water quality issues have state and local leaders calling for a moratorium on industry expansion, says a grassroots activist group.

Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement says Iowa Select is adding at least 19 hog confinements and the Des Moines group wants the Iowa Department of Natural Resources to extend the permitting period to 90 days so residents and county supervisors can "review this onslaught of factory farm proposals.” READ MORE
Published in Swine
October 13, 2017, Indianapolis, IN – Indiana lawmakers will meet Oct. 19 to continue hearing testimony as they consider updating regulations on the state’s livestock feeding operations.

The Interim Study Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources, which has members from both chambers of the Indiana General Assembly, has already met twice this fall to discuss industrial confined feeding programs. READ MORE
Published in State
October 12, 2017, Deschambault, Que – The Canadian government is prioritizing science and innovation and the competitiveness of the agriculture industry as a whole to create better business opportunities for producers and Canadians.

Funding was announced recently for two projects by the Centre de recherche en sciences animales de Deschambault (CRSAD), including $665,546 aimed at developing sustainable strategies for standardizing the manufacturing and use of recycled bedding in dairy production to improve the sector’s environmental performance without reducing the profitability of businesses, as well as to respond to consumer concerns.

With the funding, the CRSAD will be able to determine the best methods for manufacturing recycled bedding from manure and to make recommendations for the adoption of the best management methods, practices and technologies, with the welfare of animals and workers and the safety of products also taken into account. Dairy producers will be therefore able to reduce their operating costs and reuse or sell the energy produced by the biodigesters, which will provide farms with an additional income stream.

“The investment in research to improve livestock housing conditions in the dairy industry will enable Canadian producers to differentiate themselves, be more competitive, improve their businesses and, especially, enhance their living conditions and those of their livestock,” said Jean-Paul Laforest, president of the CRSAD.
Published in Dairy
September 18, 2017, Des Moines, IA – Iowa has about 5,000 more pig confinements and cattle lots across the state than originally believed, a report to the federal government last month shows.

That's nearly 50 percent more animal feeding operations than the state initially inventoried.

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources discovered the facilities through satellite imagery, used to complete a comprehensive survey required under a 2013 agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. READ MORE
Published in State
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