Environment Protection
December 12, 2017, Loveland, CO – A dairy farm near Loveland is being investigated by public health officials who say the facility allowed runoff from manure piles to leach into the Big Thompson River without a permit.

A November 2015 inspection by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment revealed two wastewater ponds overflowing into a drainage ditch that flowed into the Big Thompson River. The inspector observed that the leakages from the farm “were likely ongoing for a significant period of time.” READ MORE
Published in State
December 8, 2017, Madison, WI – The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources could adopt regional restrictions on manure spreading to help protect drinking water.

Fifteen counties with bedrock consisting of Silurian dolomite and shallow topsoil are targeted: Brown, Calumet, Dodge, Door, Fond du Lac, Kenosha, Kewaunee, Manitowoc, Milwaukee, Outagamie, Ozaukee, Racine, Walworth, Washington and Waukesha.

New restrictions would affect the time and place where manure can be added on cropland. Areas with bedrock depth of two feet or less would not be able to have manure – liquid or solid – added. READ MORE
Published in Regional
December 8, 2017, Willey, IA – The Iowa Department of Natural Resources recently received a report from a manure applicator that a manure tanker tipped over near a ditch near Willey, Iowa, in Carroll County.

DNR staff investigated the incident and it was observed that manure spilled on the road. Some manure reached the Willey Branch. ​Berms were quickly ​constructed to stop the flow in the ditch and equipment was used to clean up the remaining manure on the road. The amount of manure spilled is unknown. Water samples were collected and submitted for analysis.

The investigation is ongoing and further enforcement may be considered. ​​

Published in State
December 5, 2017, Portland, OR — Representatives of Oregon agriculture say they are wary of a proposal to reduce the state’s carbon emissions. While farmers could attract new revenue under the system, they could also face higher costs for fuel, electricity and other inputs, they say.

Oregon lawmakers in the House and Senate are currently devising carbon emission “cap-and-invest” bills to be introduced during the 2018 legislative session. The goal is to mitigate climate change by reducing the amount of “greenhouse gases” such as carbon dioxide that gets into the atmosphere. READ MORE
Published in Other
December 5, 2017, Jefferson City, MO – The Missouri Department of Natural Resources has refused to amend a rule regulating confined animal feeding operation emissions in the state.

Submitted to the Missouri Air Conservation Commission by a law firm for Callaway County-based Friends of Responsible Agriculture and other groups, the petitions requested changes to a regulation nicknamed the "odor rule," which requires Class IA CAFOs to implement an odor control plan. READ MORE
Published in State
December 1, 2017, Annapolis, MD – The Maryland Department of Agriculture reminds farmers that December 15 is the last day to spread manure and other organic nutrient sources on cropland.

Under modified Nutrient Management Regulations approved earlier this year, farmers statewide are now prohibited from spreading manure between December 16 and March 1.

“The fall spreading date for manure and other organic nutrient sources has been extended through December 15 to reflect warmer weather patterns and reduce the amount of time farmers need to store manure over the winter,” said Secretary Joe Bartenfelder. “The extra time allows farmers to empty their storage structures ahead of winter. Ultimately, our goal is to avoid application of nutrients in the winter when fields are at the highest risk for runoff.”

An emergency provision in the modified regulations allows the department to work with farmers to prevent an overflow from liquid manure storage structures during winter, when spreading manure is otherwise prohibited. This exemption is only for on-farm generated liquid manure that the farmer cannot store due to extraordinary circumstances. It does not apply to biosolids or food waste. A 100-foot setback from surface waters is required for any emergency spreading that takes place in winter and farmers are prohibited from applying manure if the ground is frozen or snow covered. Livestock farmers seeking this exemption should contact their regional nutrient management specialist for assistance.

Maryland’s Nutrient Management Regulations allow farmers to apply poultry litter to crops in the fall. Farmers may apply other types of manure in fall for spring crops planted before June 1. Farmers should review their Nutrient Management Plan, talk to their nutrient management consultant, or contact the nutrient management specialist serving their county.

For more information, contact the Nutrient Management Program at 410-841-5959 or visit the program’s website.

Published in State
December 1, 2017, Princess Anne, MD – A new public-private partnership between University of Maryland Eastern Shore and a western-shore based recycling startup company proposes to solve some of Delmarva's most pressing problems.

With no incineration, leaving behind no waste or byproducts and in just 30 minutes, ReGreen Organic's innovative recycling process transforms waste into clean, sanitary, odor-free and marketable products: Fertilizers, compost, animal feed and fuel pellets. READ MORE
Published in Poultry
November 30, 2017, University Park, PA – A new study of methane emissions from livestock in the United States – led by a researcher in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences – has challenged previous top-down estimates.

The research was conducted because serious discrepancies exist between top-down estimates that suggest the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is underestimating agricultural methane emissions by up to 90 percent, and bottom-up estimates accepted by the federal government showing lower emissions.

Top-down emissions estimates involve monitoring atmospheric methane concentrations by satellites or from air samples collected at high altitude by planes, and using models to estimate the sources of emissions. Bottom-up estimates take into account livestock populations and animal emission factors.

In their detailed analysis, researchers used a spatially explicit, bottom-up approach, based on animal inventories and feed-intake-based emission factors, to estimate enteric methane emissions for cattle and manure methane emissions for cattle, swine and poultry for the contiguous United States.

The researchers estimated methane emissions using a "gridded" approach, dividing the U.S. into 0.1 by 0.1-degree GIS units, which created cells from 31 square miles in the northern United States to 42 square miles in the southern part of the country.

"This level of detail enabled us to more accurately assess agricultural methane emissions based on activities involving livestock," explained lead researcher Alex Hristov, professor of dairy nutrition, who is a member of the current National Academy of Sciences Anthropogenic Methane Committee.

"We must have more specific information about methane emissions that combines local livestock populations and characteristics with distribution of landscape features – and a gridded inventory approach provides that," he said.

According to the EPA, the top three sources of anthropogenic methane in the United States are the combined energy sector – natural gas, petroleum systems and coal mining – which makes up 40 percent of the total; livestock, 36 percent of the total; and landfills, 18 percent of the total.

Methane emissions from livestock operations are the result of microbial fermentation and methanogenesis in the forestomach of ruminants and similar fermentation processes in manure from both ruminant and non-ruminant farm animals.

Methane is also produced from enteric fermentation in the digestive tract of non-ruminant herbivore species, such as horses, donkeys and mules, as a result of fermentation processes in their hindgut. However, "hindgut fermenters" do not produce nearly as much methane per unit of fermented feed as ruminants, so enteric or manure emissions from equine species were not included in this analysis. Neither were emissions from small ruminants such as sheep and goats, which are negligible in the U.S.

County-level, annual enteric methane emissions for all states were estimated for cattle only. A total of 3,063 counties in the contiguous U.S. were included in the cattle methane emission database.

Cattle inventories by county were obtained from the 2012 Census of Agriculture, which is the last census data currently available. Body weight data for cattle was derived from EPA records and dry matter feed intake was estimated based on National Research Council prediction equations for the various categories of cattle. Methane emission yield factors were calculated for each cattle category.

Overall, the research, which was published this month in Environmental Science and Technology, yielded total U.S. livestock methane emissions of 19.6 billion pounds per year. However, uncertainty surrounding that total is high, researchers acknowledged.

Compared with enteric methane, predicting methane emissions from manure is a more complex process and carries a larger uncertainty in the estimates, the researchers pointed out. Manure composition, type of storage facilities and manure retention time, and environment – particularly temperature – are among the factors that affect methane emissions from manure.

There is great uncertainty in both enteric and manure methane emissions from livestock, Hristov conceded. He said that research around the world has shown that variability in enteric methane emissions largely can be explained with variability in feed dry-matter intake. Nutrient composition of the feed is also important but has a lesser impact on enteric methane production.

"If methane emissions from livestock in this country really are twice as high as what is estimated now — and we don't believe they are — that would put a big target on agriculture to take measures to cut these emissions," said Hristov. "Having an accurate and spatially explicit assessment of methane emissions from livestock is critical for reconciliation of top-down and bottom-up approaches, and it's the starting point in any mitigation effort."

"Our analysis showed that the EPA’s estimates are close to reality, but there is a discrepancy in the spatial distribution of emissions. And, our research revealed a great discrepancy with global models such as the EDGAR (Emission Database for Global Atmospheric Research) inventory."

ExxonMobil Research and Engineering Company partially funded this research.
Published in Air quality
November 30, 2017, Idalia, CO – Colorado boasts more than one hundred cattle feedlots capable of holding over a thousand animals, according to the state’s Department of Public Health and Environment. Many of those operations are close to waterways. Like in other states, it’s up to cattlemen and regulators to keep manure out of streams and groundwater. Environmentalists worry that will get trickier as historic rain events become more common.

Such a situation has become a legal drama for 5 Star Feedlot. READ MORE
Published in Beef
November 28, 2017, Washington, DC – On November 22, 2017 – in response to a request from the Environmental Protection Agency – the DC Circuit Court of Appeals extended the deadline for farmers to report air releases of hazardous substances from animal waste at livestock operations until January 22, 2018.

The decision postponed the effective date of the court’s April 2017 decision vacating an EPA rule that exempted these farms from certain statutory reporting obligations.

EPA is committed to providing America’s farmers and ranchers – people committed to conserving the land and the environment- the clarity needed in meeting their reporting obligations required by law,” said Scott Pruitt, EPA administrator.

The EPA sought this additional time in order to provide compliance assistance to farmers, update its guidance, and develop a more-streamlined reporting form. With the court’s decision, farmers are not required to report emissions from animal waste at these facilities until after the court issues its mandate, expected no sooner than January 22, 2018.

On April 11, 2017, the DC Circuit Court vacated an EPA rule finalized on December 18, 2008, that exempted most farms from certain release reporting requirements in two statutes, the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) and the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act (EPCRA).

In response to a request from the EPA, the DC Circuit Court extended the effective date of its decision to vacate the 2008 rule to November 15, 2017. In response to a second request from the current administration EPA, the DC Circuit Court further extended that date to January 22, 2018. As such, farmers now do not need to report emissions under CERCLA until January 22, 2018 at the earliest when the D.C. Circuit Court is expected to issue its mandate.

The EPA has prepared guidance that includes links to resources that farmers can consider when calculating emissions for specific species of livestock. To view EPA’s guidance and Frequently Asked Questions on reporting air emissions from animal waste: https://www.epa.gov/epcra/cercla-and-epcra-reporting-requirements-air-releases-hazardous-substances-animal-waste-farms.

Published in Federal
November 28, 2017, Saint Paul, MN – Under an agreement between the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) and the Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary Program in Louisiana, eligibility for loans to implement Agricultural Best Management Practices (AgBMP) in Minnesota will be expanded to include larger livestock operations.

A formal letter of understanding was recently signed recognizing the importance of coordinating pollution prevention efforts throughout the Mississippi River watershed both locally in Minnesota and in distant downstream areas including the receiving waters of the Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary in Louisiana and the Gulf of Mexico.

The Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary has developed a Comprehensive Conservation Management Plan recommending practices that can be implemented from the headwaters of the Mississippi River to the delta that will ultimately reduce sediment and nutrient loading to the estuary area and the gulf. With Minnesota’s formal recognition of the Barataria-Terrebonne management plan, eligibility for the MDA’s AgBMP Loan Program will be expanded to include livestock operations holding National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits or those operations with more than 1,000 animal units.

“All along the Mississippi River, we need to work with our partners and follow the same road map to manage the watershed while still recognizing that people and communities use the land in a variety of ways,” said MDA Commissioner Dave Frederickson. “Expanding the number of farm operations eligible for AgBMP loans here in the Mississippi River’s headwaters state is another step toward managing and protecting this important watershed.”

This letter of understanding recognizes that pollution does not stop at state boundaries and that a multi-state perspective should be considered when addressing pollution problems. In addition to the expanded eligibility options and guidance, the understanding establishes regular reporting and communications between the two organizations.
Published in State
November 28, 2017, Hurlock, MD – On Mary Lou Brown's farm in Hurlock, tractors were rolling over giant concrete pads and dumping mounds of chicken compost in her manure shed.

Things that Brown says don't come cheap.

But now, more money could be on its way. U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-MD, recently introduced the Chesapeake Bay Farm Enhancement Act of 2017. READ MORE
Published in State
November 21, 2017, Harrison, AR – A 2,400-hog farm in the Buffalo River watershed must clean up the manure on its property within the next 60 days, a Boone County circuit judge has ordered.

The Newton County operation must empty a barn of dry pig manure, revegetate land and keep the hogs on its property, Judge Gail Inman-Campbell said. READ MORE
Published in Swine
November 21, 2017, Crawfordsville, IA – A failed hose connection led to a manure spill on the western edge of Louisa County late Nov. 17.

An estimated 7,500 gallons of manure spilled into a crop field before the pump shut off. The owner tried to block tile intakes, but manure had already entered the underground tiling and flowed into the upper end of Buffington Creek. He did prevent manure from moving downstream by temporarily damming the creek.

The Iowa Department of Natural Nesources (DNR) investigated the spill site Nov. 18, finding the creek was mostly dry and the manure contained.

The DNR will monitor cleanup activities and consider appropriate enforcement action.

Published in State
November 21, 2017, Bennington, VT – A legislative panel wants to hear the agriculture agency's case for why farmers should be exempt from environmental enforcement under Vermont's land use law.

The Act 250 committee, which met Nov. 15, is tasked with proposing fixes to the state's land use law that will bring 50-year-old regulations up to speed with new environmental pressures.

At the next meeting, to be held in December, the committee will ask the Agency of Agriculture to justify land use exemptions for farms. READ MORE
Published in State
For decades, phosphorous has accumulated in Wisconsin soils. Though farmers have taken steps to reduce the quantity of the agricultural nutrient applied to and running off their fields, a new study from the University of Wisconsin-Madison reveals that a “legacy” of abundant soil phosphorus in the Yahara watershed of Southern Wisconsin has a large, direct and long-lasting impact on water quality.
Published in Dairy
November 14, 2017, Washington, DC – With a Nov. 15 deadline looming, the National Pork Producers Council and the U.S. Poultry and Egg Association recently filed a brief in support of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s motion to delay a mandate that farmers report certain air emissions from manure on their farms.

In April, a federal court, ruling on a lawsuit brought by environmental activist groups against the EPA, rejected an exemption for farms from reporting “hazardous” emissions under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) and the Emergency Planning Community Right to Know Act (EPCRA). CERCLA mainly is used to clean hazardous waste sites but has a federal reporting component, while EPCRA requires entities to report on the storage, use and release of hazardous substances to state and local governments, including first responders.

The EPA had exempted farms from CERCLA reporting, reasoning that while emissions might exceed thresholds that would trigger responses under the law such responses would be “unnecessary, impractical and unlikely.” The agency limited EPCRA reporting to large, confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs), requiring them to make one-time reports. Under the decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, all livestock farms, not just CAFOs, are required to report.

Between 60,000 and 100,000 livestock and poultry farmers will need to file air emissions reports with the U.S. Coast Guard National Response Center (NRC), beginning Nov. 15, as well as written reports with their regional EPA office within 30 days of reporting to the NRC.

Some farmers already have tried filing reports, but the NRC system has been overwhelmed. NRC operators are refusing to accept reports for more than a single farm per call because of concern that the phone systems will be tied up for non-emergency purposes. In one instance, an NRC operator sent notices out to more than 20 state and federal response authorities, including the Department of Homeland Security, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and a state policy agency, after receiving a phone call.

In seeking a second delay in implementing the CERCLA reporting mandate – the original filing deadline technically was the day the federal court threw out the exemption – the EPA, NPPC and the poultry and egg association are asking the court to give the agency more time to “provide farmers more specific and final guidance before they must estimate and report emissions” and to develop a system that will enable farmers to comply with their legal obligations.
Published in Air quality
November 14, 2017 – Dozens of livestock farmers in the Netherlands are breaking the rules for the disposal of surplus manure, according to an investigation by the NRC Handelsblad, an evening newspaper based in Amsterdam.

Farmers are forging their accounts, illegally trading their manure or dumping more on their land than permitted by law, while transport companies are fiddling lorry weights and making unrecorded trips to dump manure at night, the paper said.

In total, the NRC found that 36 of the 56 manure processing and distribution companies in the two regions had been fined for fraud, or suspected of fraud, in what the paper calls the “manure conspiracy.” READ MORE
Published in Other
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 10, 2017, Kewaunee, WI – The Kewaunee County Board of Supervisors unanimously passed an ordinance regulating manure irrigation at its Nov. 7 meeting.

The Chapter 37 Agricultural Waste and Process Wastewater Irrigation Ordinance allows low pressure-drip irrigation at a height no greater than 18 inches to apply nutrients during the growing season. The vote was 19-0 with one supervisor excused. READ MORE

Published in Regional

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