United States
Puck Custom Enterprises is continuing to expand its international presence after partnering with two organizations to bring its manure application and agitation equipment to Serbia.
Published in Companies
Want to know more about your environmental footprint? Get additional information about operational costs? University of Minnesota Extension specialist, Erin Cortus and extension educators, Diane DeWitte, Jason Ertl, and Sarah Schieck are looking to work with producers in confidentially assessing their own operations using The Pig Production Environmental Footprint Calculator - a tool developed with support from and maintained by the National Pork Board.
Published in Swine
Bazooka Farmstar announced the release of four new core products at the latest North American Manure Expo, including: The full throttle series 1,000 gallon trailer, the full throttle high reach outlaw, the 80' Infinity Series boom truck, and the NEXUS control system.
Published in Manure Handling
The Minnesota Department of Agriculture, in partnership with the National Weather Service has designed a new tool for those applying manure in Minnesota called the Minnesota Runoff Risk Advisory Forecast.
Published in Manure Application
McLanahan Corporation is excited to announce the official launch of the Modular SMS12. This system, similar to others manufactured by McLanahan, separates bedding sand from dairy cow manure. The Modular SMS12 utilizes proven equipment for separating manure and sand, and is supported by a company that is an expert in this type of processing equipment.
Published in Manure Handling
Bristow, IA – Iowa Department of Natural Resources staff have investigated a manure spill caused by a broken water line in a hog confinement located about three miles north of Bristow.

An unknown amount of manure from an empty building traveled about a mile before entering a tributary of Parmentar Creek on Sept. 26. Field tests by DNR staff found slightly elevated ammonia levels, but not high enough to kill fish.

A cleanup crew from the farm stopped the flow and built dams downstream to contain contaminated water, which they pumped and hauled to apply on crop fields.

DNR did not observe any dead fish in the stream. DNR will continue to monitor cleanup and consider appropriate enforcement action.

Published in News
Washington, DC – As North Carolina communities grapple with the fallout from flooding during Hurricane Florence, community groups and an allied national coalition filed a legal complaint in federal court Sept. 28, challenging a Trump administration policy that exempts animal feeding operations from having to report emissions under a federal emergency planning and right-to-know law.

“The full extent of the damage to our communities is still unknown. But one thing’s clear – we need better protections for communities neighboring these operations,” said Devon Hall, executive director of the Duplin County, NC-based Rural Empowerment Association for Community Help (REACH). Duplin County, a hub of industrial pig operations, was among the hardest hit by Hurricane Florence. “Eliminating this exemption is a simple way to help make sure my neighbors and I are better protected.”

At the heart of the matter are two environmental laws – the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) and the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA). Both require reporting of releases of hazardous substances that meet or exceed reportable quantities within a 24-hour period in order for federal, state, and local officials to evaluate the need for an emergency response to mitigate the effects of a release to the community.

Back in December 2008, the EPA published a final rule that exempted all farms from reporting hazardous substance air releases from animal waste under CERCLA. Only large CAFOs were subject to EPCRA reporting.

Several citizen groups challenged the validity of the final rule in the U.S. Court of Appeals and, in April 2017, the court vacated the final rule.

In March 2018, the Consolidated Appropriations Act (Omnibus Bill) was signed into law, a section of which – known as the Fair Agricultural Reporting Method Act (FARM Act) – amended CERCLA to exempt air emissions from animal waste at a farm from reporting under CERCLA.

Accordingly, on August 1, 2018, EPA published a final rule revising the CERCLA reporting regulations to incorporate the FARM Act’s amendments to CERCLA.

Based on the criteria for EPCRA release reporting, the EPA maintains that air emissions from animal waste at farms do not need to be reported under EPCRA.

REACH and Sound Rivers are being represented by the nonprofit environmental law organization Earthjustice and are joined by Animal Legal Defense Fund, Center for Food Safety, Don’t Waste Arizona, Environmental Integrity Project, Food & Water Watch, Humane Society of the United States, Sierra Club, and Waterkeeper Alliance in the complaint.

A copy of the complaint can be found here.
Published in Federal
Four years ago, dairy farmer Jay Richardson and his wife, Kristi – owners of Son-Bow Farms in Northwest Wisconsin – sat down for a heart-to-heart to discuss the future of their business.
Published in Dairy
There was a mixture of hot temperatures, high humidity plus driving rain and wind. But the weather did little to dampen the enthusiasm of attendees at the 2018 North American Manure Expo.
Published in Other
Earthworms eat biological material in the soil to survive. Now, their abilities are being put to work by a company called BioFiltro. They are used in a controlled environment to clean liquid manure waste streams in a matter of hours where it would otherwise have taken weeks.
Published in Dairy
In August, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Animal Health Monitoring System [NAHMS] released its most recent report, Nutrient Management Practices on U.S. Dairy Operations, 2014.
Published in News
It’s been almost a week since Hurricane Florence struck North Carolina and some hog farmers are still dealing with challenges left over from the storm.

According to a report from the North Carolina Pork Council [NCPC], some hog farmers and partner production companies are going to extraordinary lengths to care for their animals, including living in the barns for days, traveling by boat to do chores and even being shuttled to farms via helicopter.

Some are also dealing with manure management problems.

“While it’s clear that farmers properly managed lagoon levels in advance of the storm, a small percentage of lagoons have been impacted by the record-setting rainfalls,” the NCPC report stated. “In some cases, lagoon levels are being lowered by transferring liquids off the farm in tanker trucks or by piping to other lagoons with ample storage.”

According to a Sept. 23 report from the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality, five lagoons in the state suffered structural damage, 32 lagoons overtopped, nine lagoons were inundated [no indication of discharges], 18 lagoons are at full capacity [have no freeboard left] and 39 lagoons have zero to 3-inches of freeboard available.

“While we are dismayed by the release of some liquids from some lagoons, we also understand that what has been released from the farms is the result of a once-in-a-lifetime storm and that the contents are highly diluted with rainwater,” the NCPC stated.

The North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services sets preliminary livestock losses at 3.4 million poultry and 5,500 hogs.

“This was an unprecedented storm with flooding expected to exceed that from any other storms in recent memory,” said Steve Troxler, NC Agriculture Commissioner. “We know agricultural losses will be significant because the flooding has affected the top six agricultural counties in the state. The footprint of flooding from this storm covers much the same area hit by flooding from Hurricane Matthew in 2016, which only worsens the burden on these farmers.”

The department’s environment programs and division of soil and water conservation is assisting livestock and poultry farmers with recovery to ensure environmental impacts are minimized to the extent possible. The department’s veterinary division is helping to assess risk to livestock operations and depopulation teams are on standby and are assisting producers with disposal concerns.
Published in Swine
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has applauded a recent U.S. District Court after it issued an injunction affecting Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi to prevent enforcement of the Obama-era Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule.

Last month, Attorney General Paxton and his counterparts from Louisiana and Mississippi filed a motion asking the court to expedite their request for an injunction. The legal action was necessary after a district court in South Carolina overturned President Trump’s effort to delay the WOTUS rule so that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency could prepare a replacement rule.

While district courts in North Dakota and Georgia enjoined WOTUS in 24 states, the rule remained in effect in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and other states not covered by the two injunctions.

“Today’s district court ruling is a win for property owners in Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi, sparing them from the … WOTUS rule that would allow EPA regulation of ponds, streams and puddles on private land,” Attorney General Paxton said. “By restoring principles of federalism to this area of law, the ruling is an even bigger win for the Constitution and the fundamental liberties it protects.”

In 2015, Attorney General Paxton was part of a multi-state coalition lawsuit that won a nationwide stay against WOTUS in the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, preventing the federal government from taking control of ponds, streams and puddles of Texas property owners.

One of President Trump’s first actions in office was an executive order directing the EPA to begin the process of eliminating WOTUS. Earlier this year, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that cases litigating the Clean Water Act should be heard by federal district courts.

View a copy of the injunction here.
Published in Federal
Ames, IA – An Iowa State University professor of agricultural and biosystems engineering has been named the new director of the Iowa Nutrient Research Center.

Matt Helmers, a professor in the Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering and extension agricultural engineer, began his duties on Sept. 1. Helmers succeeds Hongwei Xin, assistant dean of research for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and a professor of agricultural and biosystems engineering, who served as interim director since 2017.

Helmers joined Iowa State in 2003. He serves as the agricultural and biosystems engineering department’s associate chair for research and extension and holds the title of Dean’s Professor in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

“Dr. Helmers is well-known among Iowa farmers and water quality researchers as an exceptional scientist and a trusted source of information about nutrient management,” said Joe Colletti, interim endowed dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. “His leadership of the Iowa Nutrient Research Center is a significant new chapter in addressing the goals set forth in the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy.”

Helmers was part of the scientific team that worked on the strategy’s Nonpoint Source Science Assessment, serving as its nitrogen team chair. He served on the Environmental Protection Agency’s Science Advisory Board Agricultural Science Committee from 2016 to 2018.

The Iowa Nutrient Research Center has committed $8.7 million to 76 research projects since it was created in 2013 by the Iowa Board of Regents in response to legislation passed by the Iowa Legislature. The center funds research by scientists at Iowa State, the University of Iowa and the University of Northern Iowa to address nitrogen and phosphorus nutrient losses to surface waters. They pursue science-based approaches to areas that include evaluating the performance of current and emerging nutrient management practices and providing recommendations on implementing the practices and developing new practices.

Helmers is involved in research and extension and outreach activities in the areas of water management and water quality. One focus area is subsurface drainage and the impacts of agricultural management on nutrient export from subsurface drained lands. Another focus is surface runoff from agricultural areas, including the strategic placement and design of buffer systems focusing on how buffer systems can be used to minimize environmental impacts.

He is faculty adviser to the Iowa Learning Farms, a partnership of farmers, non-farmers, urban residents, educators, agencies and conservationists to promote a renewed commitment to a Culture of Conservation. This year he was presented the Outstanding Achievement in Extension Award by the Iowa State College of Agricultural and Life Sciences and received its Dean Lee R. Kolmer Award for Excellence in Applied Research in 2017.

Helmers earned a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Iowa State in 1995; a master’s degree in civil engineering in 1997 from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University; and a doctorate in agricultural and biological systems engineering from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 2003.
Published in Research
Des Moines, IA – The Iowa Department of Natural Resources recently learned that a project to allow farmers to submit manure management plans online won an award in the 2018 national Government Experience Awards.

The project was recognized in the Government-to-Business Experience category, one of six categories acknowledging how all levels of government are working to improve citizens’ interactions with their government.

Historically, about 7,000 Iowa farmers had to fill out paper forms, drive miles to get them signed and leave a copy of the manure management plan at the county courthouse, and then submit the signed forms to DNR.

“Our goal was to cut the time and effort it takes for farmers to submit annual plans, while maintaining the information we need,” said Bill Ehm, head of DNR’s environmental division. “Now, instead of days, they can use their smart phone to file the plan and pay fees online in minutes. That’s a tremendous savings for all involved.

“The online process makes everyone’s lives easier: the producers, and DNR and county staff,” he added. “It should also be helpful for records.”

The awards are presented by the Center for Digital Government, a national research and advisory institute focused on information technology policy and best practices in state and local government. California, Maryland, Texas and Utah also won in the State Government-to-Business focus area.

Learn more about the eMMP, including how to submit one and the stakeholders involved in the project at www.iowadnr.gov/emmp.
Published in State
The historic floodwaters from Hurricane Florence are creating widespread impacts across all of eastern North Carolina. Several hog farms have been affected.

NC Pork Council officials are aware of one lagoon breach that occurred on a small farm in Duplin County, where an on-site inspection showed that solids remained in the lagoon. The roof of an empty barn on the farm was also damaged.

There are also three lagoons at other facilities that have suffered “structural damage.” It’s not known what this damage entails.

Nine other lagoons in the state have been inundated by floodwaters. This means the walls of the lagoon are intact but floodwaters have risen over the sides and filled the lagoon. The solids have remained settled on the bottom of the lagoon.

According to a report from NCPC, a further 13 lagoons are at capacity due to rainfall and appear to have overtopped. Others are at capacity and efforts are being taken to respond within the state’s regulations and with its guidance.

“We do not believe, based on on-farm assessments to date and industry-wide surveying, that there are widespread impacts to the … more than 3,300 anaerobic treatment lagoons in the state,” NCPC officials stated in a release. “Waters from the record-shattering storm are rising in some places and receding in others. We expect additional impacts to be reported as conditions and access allows.”

The farmer association added that in the lead-up to the storm, hog producers took extraordinary measures, including moving thousands of animals out of the hurricane’s path.

“The storm’s impact was felt deeply across a very large region and the approximately 5,500 swine losses reported … were the result of all aspects of the storm, including wind damage and flooding. We are saddened by this outcome.”

“We do not expect the losses to increase significantly, though floodwaters continue to rise in some locations and circumstances may change. Our farmers are working tirelessly now amid persistent and severe logistical challenges to continue the delivery of feed, to ensure power is operating on farms [as many use wells for water], and to reach the barns to provide proper animal husbandry. We believe deeply in our commitment to provide care for our animals amid these incredibly challenging circumstances.”
Published in Swine
Clinton, IA – While doing a follow-up check on manure application just north of Clinton on September 12, an official with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources found manure in a tributary of Silver Creek flowing into Silver Creek and about three miles to the Mississippi River.

The manure came from an overflowing storage basin at a nearby dairy operation. The dairy has hired a manure applicator to land apply manure. The basin has stopped overflowing.

A DNR inspector found the basin had been overflowing for some time. An unknown amount of manure reached the creeks. There were no signs of a fish kill in the creeks.

Recent heavy rains have affected some manure storage structures in the state. However, the DNR recommends that livestock producers contact the local DNR field office for help when faced with issues because of rainfall. Exploring alternatives for manure application and storage before it’s a problem is better than dealing with a manure release.

The DNR will continue to monitor the situation and cleanup, and will consider appropriate enforcement action.

Published in Dairy
The North Carolina Pork Council released the following statement in regards to this recent court verdict -  

The verdict is heartbreaking and could have severe and unforeseen economic consequences for our farmers, the pork industry and all of North Carolina agriculture.

It is heartbreaking because the jury did not hear the full story about Joey Carter's farm – and now an honest, hardworking farmer stands to lose everything. Joey Carter has always followed and exceeded the state's laws, which are the strictest regulations of any state and on any sector of agriculture. He invested in modern technologies. And he responded promptly to any concerns raised by his neighbors, who said his farm is not a nuisance. He should not be punished.

It is heartbreaking because Joey Carter's farm deserved a fair trial. And yet, the jury was prevented from hearing the expert testimony of a renowned scientist who studied the area around the farm and determined it does not produce objectionable odor.

The jury was prevented from visiting the farm in person – a request made by the defendant, Murphy Brown LLC. The jury was prevented from hearing about how these cases arose when out-of-state lawyers canvassed neighborhoods promising big payouts to plaintiffs who sued their neighbors.

We encourage an appeal to the Fourth Circuit, which must review the decisions that directly shaped the outcome of the trial.

This verdict signals that no farmer in North Carolina is safe from financially ruinous lawsuits even if they comply fully with all laws and regulations, as Joey Carter did; even if they use best management practices, as Joey Carter did; and even if they had never received any complaints from their neighbors, as was the case with the Carter farm.

We expect this verdict will force Smithfield Foods to reevaluate its operations in the state. We encourage state, county, local and agricultural leaders to show strong support for a company that has and continues to invest millions in modern technology and research in North Carolina and employs 10,000 people in rural counties.

This case is exactly why farmers like Joey Carter needed clarity and legal protection, and we applaud the bipartisan group of lawmakers who adopted changes this week to provide certainty for agriculture in the 2018 Farm Act.
Published in News
Green Bay, WI - State, county and Oneida Nation staff are responding to a large manure spill causing a fish kill in Silver Creek on the Oneida reservation about four miles west of Ashwaubenon.

The spill occurred on a dairy farm located west of the Outagamie-Brown county line. It was reported at 1 p.m. Sept. 10 but likely started the night before. Before the source of the spill was stopped, an estimated 300,000 gallons of manure were released into a grassy waterway and into Silver Creek, a tributary of Duck Creek. The manure flowed east and most of it is in Brown County.

Cleanup efforts started after the initial report and are continuing. The farm is not a CAFO (concentrated animal feeding operation). Oneida Nation staff is monitoring water quality with assistance from the state Department of Natural Resources. Oneida Nation staff asked DNR to assist with managing the cleanup.

Dead minnow species and bluegills have been seen at multiple road crossings on Silver Creek as it flows north towards its confluence with Duck Creek, about three miles northeast of the farm. The manure plume has reached Duck Creek, field staff confirmed.

Oneida Nation staff has been collecting water quality samples at several locations. DNR staff has collected bacteria samples at several locations, including the first downstream road crossing on Duck Creek. The farm contacted a sewage pumper and manure is being pumped from Silver Creek.

The farm reported the spill occurred when a valve holding manure in under-barn storage failed and released most of the contents into the farm's main manure storage structure. That structure, already nearly full, overtopped and released manure onto a grassy waterway.

A crew from Outagamie County responded immediately after the report and excavated a sump-collection hole in the grassy waterway leading from the farm to Silver Creek. DNR staff also responded quickly and began coordinating cleanup efforts with Oneida Nation officials.

Published in Dairy
Raleigh, NC – Hog farmers across Eastern North Carolina are making final preparations for the forecast arrival of Hurricane Florence. Farmers have taken precautions to protect animals, manage lagoons and prepare for power outages that are anticipated from the major hurricane, which is forecast to bring more than 15 inches of rain and high winds to many of the state’s largest pig- and hog-producing counties.

Actions that farmers are taking include:
  • Shifting animals to higher ground. Farmers and integrators are working to move animals out of barns in known flood-prone areas, shifting them to other farms to prevent animal mortality.
  • Ensuring feed supplies are in place. Farmers and integrators are taking precautions to ensure ample feed provisions are on farms in anticipation of impassable roadways.
  • Preparing for power outages. Farmers are securing generators and fuel supplies to respond to extended power outages.
  • Assessing lagoon levels. Farmers have carefully managed their lagoons throughout the summer growing season, using their manure as a crop fertilizer. Every hog farm lagoon is required to maintain a minimum buffer to account for major flood events. Farmers across the major production areas of North Carolina are reporting current lagoon storage levels that can accommodate more than 25 inches of rain, with many reporting capacity volumes far beyond that.
“Our farmers and others in the pork industry are working together to take precautions that will protect our farms, our animals and our environment,” said Brandon Warren, president of the North Carolina Pork Council and a hog farmer from Sampson County. “The preparations for a hurricane began long before the past few hours or days. Our farmers take hurricane threats extremely seriously. We are continuing this work until the storm will force us inside.”



These same actions served the industry well during historic flooding brought by Hurricane Matthew in 2016.



Despite dire predictions from activist environmental groups, North Carolina farmers were well prepared for Hurricane Matthew when it arrived in October 2016. Even with record rainfall, only one lagoon experienced structural damage – and that was on a farm that had not housed any animals for more than five years.



An additional 14 lagoons were inundated with floodwater — compared to 55 during Hurricane Floyd in 1999 — but more than 3,750 other lagoons did not experience any flooding at all.



Following Hurricane Matthew, the Division of Water Resources conducted extensive monitoring of waterways across Eastern North Carolina. It reached the following conclusion:



“After reviewing the data collected, and comparing that to precipitation amounts, river levels and known areas of flooding, the overall impacts of Hurricane Matthew on surface water quality were initially minimal and temporary, and the long-term effects appear to be similar to previous storms and long-term historical conditions. While many eastern North Carolina areas were inundated by floodwaters and incidents of spills, breaches or waste facility shutdowns were reported, the amount of water discharged into the river basins resulted in a diluting effect, which primarily resulted in lower than normal concentrations of various pollutants.”

Published in Swine
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