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Most read articles
|0508 ANM: Dairy farm pollution oversight said lax|
|Archives - Past Articles|
|Friday, 29 August 2008 08:58|
Dairy farm pollution oversight said lax
In a 17-page report, the Conservation Law Foundation said its review of records on file with the state Agency of Agriculture found that several large and medium farms have illegally discharged waste. On a number of farms, inspectors found manure or other pollutants running into streams, and the records show there was inadequate follow-up on the problems, according to the report.
The Conservation Law Foundation says the state Agency of Natural Resources should become the agency responsible for oversight of water pollution issues on farms, and that the state needs to spend more money to help farmers install pollution control measures.
George Crombie, secretary of the Agency of Natural Resources, says the state does joint farm inspections by ANR and the Agriculture Agency.
“We went to all of them,” he said. “We are on it, we are managing it, we are working with these farmers,” he said.
–From AP Newswire
Maryland composts roadkill as burial becomes difficult
Maryland highway officials have come up with a new way to dispose of some of the deer killed on state highways. Deer carcasses are placed in bins along with wood chips and manure and eventually turn into compost.
The highway administration has eight bins about the size of a small horse stall at a site in Frederick and a similar operation in Carroll County. When full, the bins hold about 40 deer carcasses in four layers. After six to eight months, all that’s left are large bones and compost. The bones are sifted out for aesthetic reasons and the compost is used along roadways.
Highway officials are turning to composting because burying the deer near where they are found has become more difficult as development has increased the number of underground utility lines.
–From AP Newswire
Idaho might change process for proposed feedlots
The Idaho Department of Agriculture is taking comments on a plan to revamp how it determines potential risks to the environment at specific sites when a new feedlot is proposed.
Site inspections are part of the application process for new confined-animal feeding operations. The inspections are intended to give county officials information about the environmental risks a proposed dairy or feedlot might create in the area.
“We want to make it very clear to the counties that it’s up to them to decide what practices they want facilities to use,” Brian Oakey, deputy director of the state Department of Agriculture [said recently].
The state is looking for comments from county planners, dairy owners and the public on how the state deals with feedlots, a growing business in southern Idaho that has led to clashes at county commission meetings in the region and lawsuits.
Of Idaho’s nearly 500,000 cows, about 70 percent are in southern Idaho, a number that some area residents fear could damage the quality of life due to odors from the feedlots as well as possible pollution to groundwater.
In April, a six-month extension of an emergency moratorium on new confined-animal feeding operations passed by Jerome County commissioners was struck down by a Fifth District Court judge after the Idaho Dairyman’s Association and Idaho Cattle Association sued.
The groups have also sued Gooding County over its regulations concerning feedlots.
Oakey said possible changes to the siting process include how the department carries out risk analysis during an inspection. The system results in a numerical risk rating for a facility based on its possible effects on nearby water quality.
Currently, the system relies on a combination of professional judgment and a point-based scoring system, the latter using questions on management practices and a list of possible actions to mitigate damage to the surrounding environment.
The new system being proposed by the state separates the mitigation section into a separate document and eliminates management questions. Instead, it has a one-page sheet with 16 questions about a planned feedlot to be rated low, medium or high risk.
“I always think that evaluating current programs and trying to improve them is a good idea,” said Bob Naerebout, executive director of the Idaho Dairyman’s Association.
He said his group will submit comments this month, but was unsure whether the state needed to change its current process.
If the changes are approved, they could be adopted this fall, Oakey said.
–From AP Newswire
State says manure runoff caused fish kill
Hog manure washed off an Indiana farm by heavy rains has killed at least 10,000 mostly small fish in a seven-mile stretch of the Little Mississinewa River near the Ohio border, state officials said.
Rick Garringer, a conservation officer with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, estimated 10,000 to 20,000 fish had died recently and the total “could easily be twice that.”
“It’s killing all the fish,” Garringer said, noting the number would be higher if the river’s water through Randolph County was deeper and more heavily populated.
Most of the dead fish are small, but conservation officers also have counted catfish, bluegill and bass, he said.
Rita Mangas said dead fish had washed up along the banks of the river that crosses her family’s rural property about 30 miles east of Muncie.
“There’s a pile and it stinks,” Mangas said. “If it’s in our streams, what about our wells?”
Stateline Agri Inc. applied 27,000 gallons of hog manure to a field about a mile south of Indiana 32 recently that washed into the river because of heavy rains that followed, said Amy Hartsock, a spokeswoman for the Indiana Department of Environmental Management.
The hog operation is owned by Rick Kremer of Ansonia, Ohio. A message seeking comment was left with his office.
Kremer farms in both Ohio and Indiana, and online records indicate no compliance problems in Indiana. Kremer applied to IDEM last October to add 14,400 swine to his operation in Randolph County. That permit has yet to be approved.
Hartsock said it was not immediately known if the manure was applied properly.
–From AP Newswire
Idaho Power to buy energy from dairy
A dairy in the rural Idaho farming town of Gooding has been given approval to sell electricity to the Idaho Power utility company.
The deal could be among the first of its kind in the state.
The Idaho Public Utilities Commission approved a request from the Idaho Power Co. recently to buy power from the Big Sky Dairy next year.
The dairy plans to generate the power through a device that can covert cooking oils and cow manure into electricity.
Commission spokesman Gene Fadness says the Gooding dairy will be the first to sell electricity directly to Idaho Power after a similar deal in Canyon County fell through last year.
Digester development faces uncertain future in California
As elected officials, government agency representatives, engineers and dairy producers gathered recently to celebrate the latest opening of a dairy methane digester facility in Sacramento County, a cautionary note about construction of additional digesters in the state was sounded by Michael Marsh, CEO, Western United Resource Development.
“This may be one of the last digesters built in California because of conflicting regulations between AB32 (global warming legislation) and new regulations coming out of air districts with regard to emissions from the engine generator sets,” Marsh told the crowd gathered at the Cal-Denier Dairy in southern Sacramento County.
The digester was funded in part by state Energy Commission grant funds administered by Western United Resource Development (WURD). The air districts have set a standard for emissions from “these types of engines that have not been achieved by any engine manufacturer anywhere in the world,” pointed out Marsh. “Unfortunately air district regulations do not take that fact into consideration nor are they allowed to take into consideration the benefit derived from combustion of the methane from the digester projects. Policy makers have to step in and clear a pathway for renewable energy opportunities to be realized.”
The conflicting regulations are causing frustrations for dairy producers who are committed to being responsible environmental stewards. “Farmers want to do their share to enhance sustainability and it’s frustrating when two different regulations run at cross-purposes with one another,” said Marsh. The project utilizes manure from 500 milk cows to provide renewable power for the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD.)
In addition to providing renewable energy, the new digester captures methane emissions – a greenhouse gas 22 times more potent than CO2 in causing global climate change. Cal-Denier uses a flush manure management method to keep the stalls clean. The flushed manure is held in a lagoon. Cal-
Denier’s new digester is an ambient temperature covered lagoon digester designed by RCM Digesters. Digester funding was provided by WURD, SMUD, USDA Rural Development Program and USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service. Approximate capital cost of the digester system is $700,000 with an anticipated pay-off of seven years. ANM