Environment Protection
May 24, 2017, Hoytville, OH - Two small sections in Wood and Henry counties were selected by the Ohio Department of Agriculture for a pilot program.

The announcement was made at the Drewes farm in Jackson Township.

The pilot program is called the Ohio Agricultural Stewardship Verification Program. ODA Director David Daniels made the announcement and apologized for the long name, adding, "but that's what it is."

The program is currently only for those in the watersheds of Cutoff Ditch in Wood County and Upper Beaver Creek in Henry County.

Daniels anticipates this program going statewide fairly quickly. It is designed to provide certification for farmers who protect farmland and natural resources by implementing best management practices on their farms. READ MORE
Published in News
May 23, 2017, Saratoga, WI - The developers of the proposed Golden Sands Dairy in Saratoga have filed papers with the Wisconsin Supreme Court in hopes that justice will hear their case.

On Monday, the Wysocki Family of Companies submitted legal documents to overturn a recent decision by the Wisconsin District IV Court of Appeals that stated the farm would not be able to use more than 6,000 acres of nearby land for manure spreading or other agricultural purposes because of a local ordinance instituted by the town board.

The dairy wants to house 5,300 animals on the site, which would generate 55 million gallons of liquid manure and another 25,000 tons of solid waste each year. But neighbors are concerned that the manure would contaminate local drinking water and increase traffic on their local roads. READ MORE
Published in News
May 19, 2017, U.S. - In April, a major decision came out of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia in the Waterkeeper Alliance v. Environmental Protection Agency case.

Under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act ("CERCLA") and the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act ("EPCRA"), both federal environmental laws passed in the 1980's, parties must notify the National Response Center (for CERCLA) or state and local government agencies (for EPCRA) when amounts of certain hazardous materials over a set quantity are released into the environment.

After this notification is made, the NRC notifies all necessary governmental authorities. The statutes give the EPA power to further investigate, monitor, and take remedial action if necessary.

An issue arose related to the application of these statutes to animal waste. At least two substances–ammonia and hydrogen sulfide–are emitted by animal waste during decomposition.

Both ammonia and hydrogen sulfide fall under the CERCLA definition of "hazardous substances" and EPCRA's definition of "extremely hazardous substances" to which the statutory reporting requirements apply. Under both statutes, the reportable quantity for ammonia and hydrogen sulfide is set at 100 pounds/day.

During rulemaking, the EPA proposed exempting farms from CERCLA and EPCRA reporting air releases from animal waste. The EPA reasoned that requiring reports for animal waste air releases was "unnecessary" because a federal response would usually be "impractical and unlikely."

They noted that, as of 2007, they had never taken a response action based on animal waste.

During public comment, the EPA expressly requested comments on whether there could be a situation where a response would be triggered due to air release from animal waste on a farm.

In 2008, the EPA finalized the rule. With regard to CERCLA, the rule exempts all farms from reporting air releases from animal waste.

Under EPCRA, while most farms are exempt from reporting, the exemption does not include confined animal feeding operations ("CAFOs").

A CAFO is defined as a farm that "stables or confines" more than a certain number of animals. For example, a CAFO contains more than 1,000 head of cattle, 10,000 head of sheep, or 55,000 turkeys. READ MORE
Published in Regulations
May 19, 2017, Manitoba - An agricultural watchdog group says it has concerns over how Manitoba's pig-producing industry is regulated by the provincial government.

And while the province says it wants to grow the industry, Hog Watch Manitoba said it has several issues with a recent proposal to make changes to the Livestock Manure and Mortalities Management Regulation (LMMMR). READ MORE
Published in News
May 16, 2017, Lancaster, PA - Farmers have been referred to as the first environmentalists. Their livestock and crops depend on a healthy environment to thrive. Still, there’s often room for improvement.

According to some early findings from a study by Penn State graduate student Erica Rogers, poultry producers are potentially lowering their impact on the Chesapeake Bay.

Rogers and fellow Penn State graduate student Amy Barkley discussed those initial findings from their two master’s thesis projects with the poultry service technicians attending Monday’s Penn State Poultry Health and Management Seminar at the Lancaster Farm and Home Center.

Her project’s goal is to accurately depict poultry’s contribution to the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load. The Chesapeake Bay “is one of the most studied watersheds in the world,” she said, but the problem with the current model is “they are using outdated information for poultry.”

Rogers built her work around the concept that poultry litter management has changed and farmers have adopted more precise diets for their flocks. READ MORE

Published in Poultry
May 15, 2017, Waynesboro, VA – A recently released report from an environmental group concludes that the manure runoff from farms in Augusta County and three other Shenandoah Valley counties continues to contribute to unhealthy levels of bacteria, and high levels of phosphorous and algae that chokes off oxygen in the Shenandoah River and its tributaries.

But state regulators and a Shenandoah Valley legislator say the report fails to address the substantial progress that has been made in reducing nutrient pollution in the Shenandoah River. They also say it all but ignores the efforts of farmers in the region who have made marked changes in everything from livestock fencing to crop management procedures to ensure fewer nutrients pollute the area's rivers and streams. READ MORE
Published in News
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
Published in State
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.
Published in State
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.
Published in State
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
Published in State
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
Published in State
May 2, 2017, Emerald, WI – A large-scale dairy manure spill under Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources investigation could prompt policy changes in St. Croix County regarding groundwater quality and public notification.

The department launched its investigation of the dairy following a months long gap between the spill and the report filed with the state.

The spill, a DNR press release confirmed, occurred late December 2016, but was not reported to the state until March 29, 2017. READ MORE
Published in News
May 1, 2017, Little River, WI - A plan to construct a 12.2 million gallon manure pit in the town of Little River is moving ahead over the objections of neighbors and clean water advocates, who expressed fears it would leak and foul nearby wells and waterways.

More than 50 people at an April 10 hearing at the Little River Town Hall wanted the Oconto County Land Conservation Committee to deny a variance request by B & D Dairy, a Marinette County farm northeast of Pound.

LCC members, though, unanimously approved the variance. One member noted that the county was powerless was stop construction of such a facility even if the variance was denied, but the plan presented appeared to the best considering the terrain.

A county ordinance requires a 250-foot setback from the adjoining property line, which happens to be across Hillcrest Lane. The east edge of pit – to be located on the west side of Hillcrest Road just south of County Highway A – would be 153 feet from that line.

The possible locations are narrowed because of underground gas lines and a creek, which will be the required 300 feet away. As for wells, the one serving the property is about 700 feet away, with wells of neighbors about 1,200 and 1,300 feet away. READ MORE 
Published in News
April 28, 2017, Guelph, Ont. - Member of Parliament Lloyd Longfield (Guelph) today announced a $2.2 million investment with the University of Guelph to develop technologies, practices and processes that can be adopted by farmers to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

The three projects with the university are supported by the $27 million Agricultural Greenhouse Gases Program (AGGP), to help the Canadian farming sector become a world leader in the development and use of clean and sustainable agricultural technologies and practices. These projects will also help farmers increase their understanding of GHG emissions.

The AGGP covers four priority areas of research: livestock systems, cropping systems, agricultural water use efficiency and agro-forestry.

"This is a significant investment in U of G research, innovation, and knowledge mobilization. All three of these projects will help improve life and protect our planet, from improving agroforestry practices, to developing crop fertilization methods that reduce emissions, to use of aerial devices to assess soil carbon levels and elevate precision agriculture," said Malcolm Campbell, Vice-President (research), University of Guelph

The new AGGP investments will continue to support the work of the Global Research Alliance on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases, which brings together 47 countries to find ways to grow more food without growing greenhouse gas emissions. READ MORE
Published in News
April 28, 2017, Bradford, IA – Iowa Department of Natural Resources staff have determined that runoff from poultry litter located one mile north of Bradford in Franklin County reached a small tributary of Maynes Creek.

The investigation began following a complaint about chicken litter dumped in a crop field near the intake to an underground tile line.

On April 24, DNR discovered a certified commercial manure applicator from Iowa Falls had dumped the litter so he could remove his manure spreader, which had been stuck in a wet spot near the tile intake. Water samples from pooled water around the litter showed high ammonia levels where runoff entered the tile line.

The tile line was partially plugged, but investigators found some runoff flowed underground. Joined by several other tile lines, ammonia levels in the tile line were low by the time it flowed into a small, unnamed tributary of Maynes Creek. DNR staff found no dead fish in the stream.

"We recognize that accidents happen and some things can't be prevented," said Jeff Vansteenburg, supervisor of the Mason City DNR field office. "When something like this happens, several responses are possible including putting a plastic pipe over the tile inlet to keep runoff from going underground."

The custom applicator has worked to remove the litter and pump up ponded runoff. He has removed contaminated litter and runoff and land applied it to crop fields. Repairs to the tile line should occur this week, weather permitting.

DNR will continue to monitor the tile discharge and consider appropriate enforcement action.
Published in News
April 27, 2017, Lethbridge, Alta – The beef industry is facing opportunity and a dilemma.

Consumption of animal protein is expected to increase more than 60 percent over the next 40 years according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization. Ruminants are a key to meeting this demand because they can convert forage to protein-rich food and make use of land not suitable for arable crops.

The dilemma is ruminants are also a significant environmental problem, producing large amounts of methane from that forage consumption.

There are no silver bullets to deal with methane and ammonia emissions but there is real promise for significant improvement on the horizon say Dr. Karen Beauchemin and Dr. Karen Koenig, two researchers at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's Lethbridge Research and Development Centre.

Here are three examples.

New product

Perhaps the most dramatic methane control option is a new product in the pipeline designed specifically to manage methane production in ruminants.

"Methane is lost energy and lost opportunity," says Beauchemin. "The inhibitor 3-nitrooxypropanol (NOP) is a new compound synthetized by a company out of Switzerland specifically to control methane. A feed additive, it interferes with normal digestion process reducing the ability of rumen organisms to synthesize methane, shifting methane energy to a more usable form for the animal."

Research by the Lethbridge team showed adding NOP to a standard diet reduced methane production 40 percent during backgrounding and finishing of cattle. Trials have been done in commercial feedlots and it is moving into the registration channels in North America.

"Obviously there are hoops to go through in registration and questions such as pricing and mode of use in the cow calf sector that would affect industry uptake, but it is a very promising emission control alternative that could be available within three to five years," says Beauchemin.

New techniques

Diet manipulation is also promising. For example, increasing the nutritional digestibility of forages through early harvesting increases animal efficiency and reduces methane emissions, says Beauchemin.

"We're also overfeeding protein in many cases which increases ammonia emissions," says Koenig. "For example, distillers grains, a by-product of the ethanol industry, are commonly fed in feedlots. But the nutrients are concentrated and when added to diets as an energy supplement, it often results in overfeeding protein, which increases ammonia emissions."

One new area of research that may mitigate that, she says, is using plant extracts such as tannins that bind the nitrogen in the animal's gut and retain it in the manure more effectively. That retains the value as fertilizer.

"There are supplements on the market with these products in them already, but we are evaluating them in terms of ammonia and methane management."

New thinking

A new focus in research trials today is thinking "whole farm."

A new research nutrient utilization trial in the Fraser Valley of B.C. is looking at crop production in terms of selection of crops, number of cuts, fertilization and feed quality.

"We are looking at what is needed to meet the needs of the dairy cow," says Koenig. "It's a whole farm system that does not oversupply nutrients to the animal."

Road ahead

Basically, most things that improve efficiency in animal production reduce methane and ammonia production, says Beauchemin and Koenig. They emphasize that while forage does produce methane, forage is a complex system that must be considered as whole ecosystem with many positive benefits.

The biggest opportunity for improvement in methane emissions is in the cow calf and backgrounding sector because they are highly forage-ration based. But the low hanging fruit and early research in emission management is focused on the feedlot and dairy sector because diets can be controlled more easily.

Related scientific paper here "Effects of sustained reduction of enteric methane emissions with dietary... ."
Published in Manure Handling
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
Published in State
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.
Published in Dairy
April 25, 2017, Edmonton, Alta – 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.

"Livestock are significant emission contributors," says Dr. Sean McGinn of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, a long-time researcher in the emissions area. "That's quite clear and generally recognized by the agricultural research community."

Some examples

Fifty to 60 percent of feed nitrogen is lost as ammonia at the feedlot. Eight to 10 percent of Canada's greenhouse gas emissions are from agriculture and 90 percent of the atmospheric ammonia comes from cattle manure. Ammonia in the atmosphere is an economic loss because the nitrogen fertilizer potential of manure is lowered. And it's a health hazard. Ammonia mixes with acid to form fine aerosols, the white haze seen in confined airsheds.

"We know beef feedlots are 'hot spots' of ammonia emissions on the landscape, but we didn't know as much about the dynamics of ammonia emissions from feedlots. For example we didn't have real numbers from actual feedlots on how much is emitted, how much is deposited on nearby soil and how much re-emission occurs when that happens."

That's what McGinn and his colleague Dr. Tom Flesch (University of Alberta) set out to understand. Backed by funding from the Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency (ALMA), a two-year project investigated the fate of nitrogen in feedlots, what amount is deposited on land downwind and how much is carried long distances.

The other part of their research involves measuring methane and nitrous oxide, two prominent greenhouse gasses. Methane is produced by cattle due to the anaerobic digestion of feed in the cow's rumen and both nitrous oxide and methane come from stored manure in the pens.

The research produced significant results on several fronts from techniques to measure on a commercial scale, to new information on transfer, deposits and re-emission to nearby lands, to related opportunities for mitigation and management.

New measuring techniques

One major positive outcome was the development of new measuring technology adapted from what has been used successfully for measuring flare emissions in the oil and gas industry.

Using open path lasers that move over the feedlot and calculate concentration and wind characteristics, the system is able to measure emissions regardless of wind direction.

Measuring in real world situations offers some significant advantages to the more standard research protocols of using animals in individual chambers to measure emissions, says McGinn.

This new technique evaluates the feedlot as a whole, which means it can consider whole-unit management aspects which impact emissions. Also, by keeping animals in their natural environment and not interfering with them in any way, the laser approach promises more accurate, commercial scale results.

On a bigger picture level, this means actual feedlot emission numbers can be used in greenhouse gas assessments, an improvement from past practices of using estimates from global sources.

Early results show surprises

One of the surprises learned from this study was the fact that a significant fraction of ammonia was deposited on the land adjacent to the feedlot and, once deposited, how much was reemitted into the atmosphere.

"Our results illustrate the dynamics of reactive ammonia in the vicinity of a beef cattle feedlot," says McGinn. "It confirmed that a large portion of the nitrogen fed as crude protein is volatized from the feedlot's cattle manure. In the local vicinity of a feedlot, both ammonia deposition (14 percent of the emitted ammonia) and reemission occurred. That 14 percent is a large amount considering a typical feedlot emits one to two tonnes of ammonia per day."

There was a change in the soil captured ammonia that decreased with distance from the feedlot (50 percent over 200 m).

Industry implications

Logically it follows that quantifying the local dry ammonia deposition to surrounding fields is required when applying feedlot-based emissions to a large-scale emissions inventory, says McGinn. Failure to do that could mean badly misrepresenting the real situation.

"We need better emissions numbers to anchor effective public policy and fairly represent the feedlot industry in that data pool," says McGinn. "It's important to have research done before policy is set. The U.S. cattle feeding industry already has specific ammonia emission targets in place."

Related scientific paper here: "Ammonia Emission from a Beef Cattle Feedlot and Its Dry Local Deposition and Re-Emission."
Published in News
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
Published in State
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