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USDA/EPA UNIFIED NATIONAL STRATEGY FOR ANIMAL FEEDING OPERATIONS
PUBLIC LISTENING SESSION
HYATT REGENCY HOTEL
2:00 p.m., Monday, December 14, 1998
P R O C E E D I N G S
MR. BLACK: My name is Steve Black. I don't know if you have an agenda in front of you. It might mention or have listed Jim Lyons. I'm not Jim Lyons; I'm Steve Black with NRCS here in Colorado.
And I would like to welcome you to our animal feeding operation listening session here this afternoon. It's going to be my job here just to welcome you, then I'm going to turn it over to the others on the program so that we can move as rapidly as possible.
We've got a really tight time schedule this afternoon, more speakers than we had anticipated, and we're going to try to move as quickly as possible through this session, and appreciate you folks' help in letting us do that. But we still want to give you opportunity to comment and have an overview here of the strategy.
But, again, let me welcome you to Denver. Really appreciate your interest in this and the turnout. I tried to find a couple of interesting facts about Denver that I thought I might share here as some opening comments. One of my opening comments has kind of been shattered already.
The first one I was going to mention was that it's interesting that Denver has more days of sunshine than Miami and San Diego. I don't know if you folks realize that, but we have a beautiful day out there today, and it was a surprise to me that we have more sunshine than those two states.
The other fact I was going to say is that Denver, you've come to Denver, the home of the undefeated Broncos, but for those of you who watched the game yesterday, I guess I probably shouldn't even have brought that up, should I.
Anyway, I do want to welcome you here today. This is the tenth in a series of eleven animal feeding operation strategy listening sessions throughout the country. I think there's only one left. It's in Annapolis, Maryland, and that's tomorrow. But there's been an opportunity for a lot of comments, a lot of feedback at these various sessions, and we look forward to your comments today.
This draft strategy is out for comment and will be through the middle of January, and you're going to hear a little more information on that here in a few minutes, as far as some highlights of the strategy. But, overall, it's designed to minimize water quality and public health impacts that are associated with animal feeding operation while complementing long-term sustainability of our livestock operations, and I know that's a major concern right now to many of the producers.
It's not a regulation or rule; it's a strategy, and you'll hear more about that. And it establishes some expectations. So we'll get a quick overview of that here in a minute.
Again, I appreciate your interest in this particular strategy. We look forward to your comments. Welcome to the Denver area.
And at this point I'd like to turn it over and introduce Milan Rewerts. Milan is the director of Cooperative Extension Service, Colorado State University, and we really appreciate Milan being with us today to moderate our session. Milan.
MR. REWERTS: Thank you, Steve. Steve, I would advise you when you welcome people to stay with real firm facts, like this is the Mile High City. I don't think it fell in the ocean or anything so you can stand on that. But things like undefeated teams are problematic. And new pitchers for the Rockies, we want to be careful because we don't have $106 million to spend.
I want to go over a number of ground rules and I'll do that in a few minutes, but I believe Dana Minerva wanted to say a few words at this time. Is that right?
MS. MINERVA: I just was asked to comment and I'd be happy to do that. I'm Dana Minerva, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Water from EPA. Thank you all for being here.
And I particularly want to thank, in addition to you all, taking your afternoons to come here and talk to us, but I also want to thank the people from USDA who've worked with EPA so well in developing this draft strategy. And I'll name some of their names and I'm sure I'll miss some of them. Jim Lyons, Glenda Humiston, Carol Jett, Joe Delvichio, Kevin Brown. It has been a good joint process to develop this draft strategy, and I'm very appreciative of that.
President Clinton and Vice-President Gore say that the economy and the environment go together, and I'm a firm believer in that as well. I believe that we can protect water quality while protecting farm economies, and that's what we're attempting, that's the balance we're trying to strike in this strategy.
The AFO strategy is just a strategy, as was mentioned, and is part, as I think you're going to hear, of the President's Clean Water Action Plan. It is one of many actions that are in the Clean Water Action Plan for addressing water quality in our country.
It is important to realize that over 40 percent of our nation's waters do not meet water quality standards. That means they don't meet the standards for fishable and swimmable as have been established by the states. And I think it is important for us to take a number of actions, including the AFO strategy, to address this, and this is one of the key actions.
I'd also like to note that we have sought resources to help implement this strategy, and we have been more or less successful, and we will continue to work on that. It's not just the strategy, it's not just the laws, it's not just the regulations; it's getting the resources to help implement this.
Although this is a national strategy, it's really important to have a local perspective. It's really important for us to get outside the Beltway and come and hear your perspectives on how this would be best implemented. So I thank you again for coming, and I look forward to listening to the comments.
MR. REWERTS: Thank you, Dana. I failed to say that Dana is Deputy Assistant Administrator for Water for EPA. We appreciate you being here and providing some welcoming comments.
I want to give a brief review of the agenda and how we're going to proceed. We'll lead off with an overview presentation by Steve Tuber describing the context and purpose of the draft strategy. This will probably be a review for most, but just to establish the context correctly we want to do that.
Following that overview, Kevin Brown and Jim Pendergast will provide a summary of the draft strategy, again to be sure we're all kind of focused on the right thing today.
By the way, if you're expecting any kind of a press briefing on the Denver Broncos loss yesterday, you're in the wrong room so you might want to move downtown.
The remainder of the time and the primary reason for being here is to listen to your comments. The time is tight. We have a large number of comments. We'll have a procedure for you, and I'll go over those guidelines in a few minutes, but we really want you to have insight into the draft strategy and to also hear what you have to say about it.
We do have, as you can see, a sign interpreter. If anyone needs signing, specifically, and you could identify yourselves, then we'll know for sure that we do need to continue this through the whole session. If there's no one who needs sign interpretation, then we'll know that the ladies that are here ready to provide that service to you don't need to stay. So if you have that need, either identify yourself now or step over to the side and let one of the officials know so we can be sure and accommodate your needs.
In terms of the ground rules, as we proceed, after the couple of brief presentations, we want you to identify yourself as you start speaking, and we'll take the comments in the order that the call-ins were received signing up and then those who signed up in person here today.
We're going to ask you to keep your remarks to no more than three minutes. The instructions said up to five minutes, so we want you to go no more than three and, frankly, if you can get your points across in less time than that, that would be desirable.
I want to remind you that it is important that you provide your comments in writing to be officially considered by the authors and by the officials that are looking at this document. Several of the authors are here so they will be hearing your comments, and that's helpful as well. If you haven't picked up an envelope over on the table to put your written comments in, please do so before you leave.
And we ask that you use the microphones. Get up and speak right up close to them. Most of you are familiar with doing that, but we often have to remind people to get close enough so we can hear.
We want to try and give you the on-deck and coming-up order so that you can be prepared and we don't have a lag time in between. We're supposed to be out of this room by 5:00, so we'll be pushing hard to achieve that goal. And we've got one contingency plan available, maybe, if that doesn't work.
So we would ask you to have your name and affiliation as the first thing you say, and then be ready in order and make your comments succinctly and as clear as possible.
We'll also have on the power point screen a green, yellow, red process that you can see, obviously, as you're speaking. The green light will be on for two minutes, the yellow light for one minute, and when the red light comes on, that means you should be finished and being seated.
So with that, I want to now introduce the first speaker to give an oversight on an issue overview, including the Clean Water Action Plan, and for that activity I'd like to introduce Stephen Tuber, Water Program Director for EPA, Region 8. Mr. Tuber.
(Whereupon, the overviews by Stephen Tuber, Kevin Brown, and James Pendergast were given off the record.)
MR. REWERTS: That establishes the framework, the overview, the strategies in the draft, and now we need to move to the next section, probably what most of you are for. If we could have the panelists join us up there, that would be appropriate, and I'll introduce you in just a moment.
I do want to alert you that the first three speakers, just so you can be prepared, is Richard Andrews, Nathan Rudgers, and Mike Thorne.
Let me begin by introducing the panel, the listening panel members, and I'll introduce you one by one and if you have a comment to make at this time, why, feel free to do so. I was encouraged to encourage you to be brief, and I know you all will.
Starting with, we're pleased to have USDA Under Secretary Jim Lyons with us. Jim is Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment. He flew in from Washington, D.C., this morning and I think is flying out again tonight. Jim, a comment?
MR. LYONS: I am, and I will keep my comments brief because I understand we have a large number of people who want to participate this afternoon.
I think you have a good sense of what the draft strategy consists of. I want to emphasize the importance of obtaining public comment. This is one of eleven listening sessions that we've convened across the country. I'm returning, actually, for one tomorrow on the East Coast.
And I want to place emphasis on the fact that this is, in fact, a draft strategy. It's an attempt to try and use the expertise and the resources of both agencies to come up with the most efficient and effective way to achieve the environmental quality goals that we've set, as well as ensure the continued viability, economic viability, of those operators and operations that will be required to comply with the strategy.
It's a strategy that has a mix of carrot and stick, although I would tell you that we anticipate only 5 percent of the CAFO's affected would fall under the regulatory strategy. That places a great deal of emphasis on voluntary approaches, the development of Comprehensive Nutrient Nanagement Plans, and I think a great challenge for all of us to work in that direction.
I know there's a large number of people who do want to comment today. I'm going to apologize in advance to those of you who end up speaking after 5:00, and I'm sure we're going to go beyond 5:00, but I do have to return for another session tomorrow.
But I want to welcome all of you and encourage your open and honest comment. And for those of you who want to submit additional information, please do so since the comment period does not close until January. Thank you.
MR. REWERTS: Thank you, Mr. Lyons.
Next I'd like to introduce, reintroduce, Dana Minerva, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Water, EPA. Dana.
MS. MINERVA: I won't belabor what I said before. We're extremely happy to have you with us. We've very proud of the work we've done so far with USDA but we want to make it better. We want to really hear from you so don't be shy.
MR. REWERTS: Thank you.
Our next panelist I'll introduce is Richard Van Klaveren from USDA - NRCS, the National Office Representative.
MR. VAN KLAVEREN: Thank you. I really appreciate the opportunity to be here. It's interesting that some of us did have a little opportunity to review the original drafts months ago, and I'm really anxious to hear what all you have to say today. Thank you.
MR. REWERTS: Thank you.
The next gentleman you've already heard from but I want to introduce again as a member of our panel, Steve Black. Steve is State Conservationist and Director of NRCS in Colorado. Steve.
MR. BLACK: Again, I appreciate the chance to be here. I think Jim Lyons said everything that I might comment on, so I just look forward to hearing the feedback here this afternoon.
MR. REWERTS: Thank you, Steve.
And, finally, William Yellowtail, EPA Region 8 Administrator.
MR. YELLOWTAIL: Thank you very much for having us here to hear you. My perspective is that we have to be held accountable for meaning it when we have advertised to you this kind of language, and it's on the sheet that you have, it's on the table over there, and I imagine all of you picked it up. We're seeking a customer-driven strategy that will improve the quality of our nation's water while keeping the livestock industry strong. And I think that that's the important objective here.
I come from a small family ranch in Montana, and I've just recently come back from Montana, and I know well and we all know well that these days for many of those kinds of agricultural producers one more dollar worth of regulatory burden may be the last straw, and so we need your advice as to how we can accomplish cleaner water and sustainable community and agriculture simultaneously. And that's what we'll hope for today. Thank you.
MR. REWERTS: Thank you. And we appreciate the panel being with us today to listen and reflect and, more importantly, all of you in the audience for taking time to come and make your comments, and we're prepared to do that now.
I want to remind you to give your name, address, and affiliation. As you speak, do your best to stay under three minutes. We will use the two-minute green, one-minute yellow, and no-minutes red system so that you can tell quickly how your time is coming. I emphasize again that written comments must be made to be officially considered, and you have the opportunity to do that as well.
So without further ado, let's begin. If we could have Richard Andrews join us at one of the microphones in the audience, we'll proceed.
MR. ANDREWS: My name is Richard Andrews. I'm affiliated with two companies, which I founded both of them. One of them is called ZeoponiX, Incorporated; the other is called Boulder Innovative Technologies. The address is 686 South Taylor Avenue, Suite 102, Louisville, Colorado. These two companies have been involved with environmental protection and engineering, research and development, and development of fertilizers from waste resources.
I would like to address my comments in that light from my own background. I also worked for about five years with the EPA during its early days, in the founding.
The nutrient value in animal waste is a great value. It should be considered a resource rather than a waste. If one takes just the swine operations in the United States, the nitrogen values alone, if not wasted by wasteful treatment technologies, represents something on the order of one million metric tons per year of nitrogen, well over $200 million in value. The potassium values are approximately half a million metric tons per year, over $150 million per year in value.
I could go on with other resources and other materials that are in those wastes. We should look at those as value and not implement strategies that are designed to treat them as wastes and try to get rid of them.
We have, in fact, as a company developed such technologies. One is what's called a zeoponic material we developed in cooperation with NASA. It's a unique fertilizer that is, in fact, being used in space, but now it has a great application for use on earth.
The methods we use are unique and different. They are not the conventional anaerobic or aerobic waste lagoons and treatment processes. They are, in fact, ion exchange processes and very efficient to remove and recover those nutrients and use them very effectively. We can recover well over 90 percent of the nitrogen and potassium in liquid waste streams and also recover waste from solids as well, like composted materials and mineral solids.
Regarding the policy, it must be applied fairly across all types of AFOs, contrary to what's being done in Colorado at the current time. We must stimulate new treatment technologies. We must avoid dictating technology methods, and that can be done subtly through rules and regs and policies and strategies.
EPA had a sample -- does that mean I'm done?
MR. REWERTS: Time's up.
MR. ANDREWS: I will send you written comments.
MR. REWERTS: Thank you. Appreciate your consideration of the time.
Next is Nathan Rudgers who will be followed by Mike Thorne. Nathan.
MR. RUDGERS: I'm Nathan Rudgers from the Department of Agriculture and Markets in New York State. I appreciate the opportunity to speak with you today.
In general, the strategy is consistent with the work we have been doing with livestock farmers in New York to evaluate environmental risks on their farms and develop and implement plans to address those risks. Our program in New York is called Agriculture Environmental Management Initiative, or AEM, under leadership of Governor Petacki. AEM is a partnership between state, federal, and local agencies, farmers, educators, private sector businesses in the community. AEM is a voluntary program intended to assist farmers in protecting environmental resources while maintaining viable ag operations.
We believe the strategy should vigorously reenforce this partnership effort by allowing states the flexibility to build on their successes and to work more closely and effectively with established conservation partners such as local soil and water districts and NRCS staff. Appropriate participating in meeting the strategy's goals for most AFOs is voluntary. Likewise, the AEM initiative relies on incentives to encourage farmer participating.
To date, 48 of the 62 counties and over 4,000 farms are actively participating in New York State in some phase of the AEM initiative. However, we are also working to integrate the voluntary AEM initiative into the regulatory program for CAFOs in New York administrated by our Department of Environmental Conservation.
The CAFO general permit being developed is expected to incorporate the planning components of the AEM initiative which are based on the NRCS planning process. The strategy's proposal that EPA work with authorized states to issue state-wide general CAFO permits is consistent with our approach in New York and will be helpful to us in implementing an effective permit program.
The strategy sets forth ambitious time frames for developing Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plans for all animal feeding operation. For New York, the strategy establishes the expectation that CNMPs will be developed and implemented in approximately 1,000 CAFOs by the year 2005 and an additional 10,000 to 12,000 AFOs by 2008. The strategy recognizes that CNMPs should be site specific and tailored to the needs of particular farm operations.
We believe the strategy should also recognize that certain operations may not require extensive planning or other assistance in order to minimize pollution problems. For example, the AEM initiative utilizes a five-tiered planning process to identify and target for assistance farms with the most significant environmental concerns. The process also documents a good stewardship of lower risk, well-managed operations. We suggest the final strategy emphasize prioritizing AFOs for developing CNMPs based on documenting environmental concerns and watershed needs.
In any event, the strategy's proposed time frames and numerical goals will not be met without significant and technical and financial assistance to farmers. We strongly encourage adequate financing from NRCS staff and programs and particularly equip programs to help meet the strategy's needs.
NRCS also needs to develop staff resources to update standards and specs for conservation practices applicable to CNMPs for AFOs and then to train field staff on those standards and specs.
We are acutely aware in New York that we must involve the private sector in nutrient management planning and implementation if we are to be successful. I'm done. Thank you.
MR. REWERTS: Thank you. The next speaker is Mike Thorne. Mike will be followed by Denise Lee.
MR. THORNE: Hello, my name is Mike Thorne. I'm from Denver, Colorado. I represent the Colorado Livestock Association which represents the interests of beef and cattle producers, dairymen, and swine producers.
Today I'd like to talk to you about our interpretation or what we could see would be the implementation of this unified strategy.
First I'd like to commend you all on the efforts in which you started this work to attain environmental standards and qualities that would be effective and viable in the future and an economically viable agriculture. I think those are two ends that we need to keep in focus as we move through this.
The there issues that I have a concern about are, first off, off-site manure applications and the documentation that goes with it, feed management and formulation, and the potential conflict that could arise with the two government agencies charged with administering this act that's under the open-ended entitlement Involuntary Regulatory Act. I think it's a little open-ended.
The first being the off-site application and liability. As I understand it, lands not owned or controlled by CAFOs are not point sources of pollution and, therefore, if that is true, being a non-point source they don't fall under the Clean Water Act.
I wonder why are we going to have additional record keeping to go along with off-site manure applications? And along with that, I am very concerned about having record keeping and additional testing to go with land application manure that goes beyond what you'd have to do or a producer would have to do for a commercial fertilizer program. Lastly in this issue, I question the sense of holding a CAFO operator responsible for the actions of an individual farmer or operator.
Next, feed management. In balancing nutrient uptake with nutrient application, we achieve the end of balancing nutrients and, therefore, no pollution. I question the sense of having to turn in formulations, changing formulations, and having NRCS or EPA administering that when I don't see either of them being qualified to address issues of ration formulation.
And then the last thing is just the potential conflict that arises between -- conflict of interest that could arise for the USDA. The USDA and, chiefly, the NRCS really are looked at as part of the government that can show up and help you. I think it's very important in this process that we keep the regulatory badge and the aid or technical support separate and that you keep that in mind. Thank you.
MR. REWERTS: Thank you, Mike.
Denise Lee will be the next speaker followed by Fred Charles. Denise.
MS. LEE: My name is Denise Lee. I come from North Carolina, the second largest producer of hogs in the United States. I come here today to talk before this committee in Colorado because of the fact that they failed to even though we produce so many hogs in the state of North Carolina, we're the fastest growing state for producing hogs, have had the most disastrous spill from a hog lagoon in the country, yet you failed to hold a listening session in the state of North Carolina. And I find that appalling and we believe politics had a lot to do with that.
I'm also concerned that the EPA has been conducting backroom meetings and cutting cushy deals with the National Pork Councils which promotes self-monitoring in exchange for just a slap on the wrist for environmental problems. In the state of North Carolina, it's been proven that self-monitoring and volunteer meeting of regulations is not something that can be done.
These are pictures that were taken in the state of North Carolina in my own county. It shows hog operations spraying on dead fills which is a violation in the state of North Carolina, yet nothing is being done.
I have one here which is Mr. Wendell Murphy, one of the largest producers of hogs in the United States. This is one of his operations. In this picture here you can see where the bottom of their spray field, that the waste, the field, was pooling, and so what they've done is they had dug a ditch over to a culvert at the property line, and then there was a pipe placed into the culvert so that the drainage from the spray field could go to the ditch in the road.
I'm here to say that self-monitoring is not going to work. We need a national moratorium on any new sites or permitting of new operations or expansions.
We also need to make sure that local communities have some type of control. We need public input. We need public hearings and public notices before any type of operations are put in place.
We also need to make sure that there is a ban on lagoons and spray fields. We need to make sure that the people that own the hogs, people like Wendell Murphy, are held accountable for any type of pollution problems that exist from these operations, and also the fact that they should be the ones that should have to pay for any type of new technology and not the taxpayers of the United States. Thank you very much.
MR. REWERTS: Thank you. The next speaker is Fred Charles. Fred will be followed by Jay Lazarus.
MR. CHARLES: My name is Fred Charles. Do you need my address? No? Okay. I'm an agricultural engineer with McCulley, Frick & Gilman.
And I have three topics that I would like to make comment on here today. The first deals with risk. In the strategy in Section 4 it is stated that the regulatory program focuses permitting and enforcement priorities on high-risk operations or 5 percent of all AFOs. The strategy implies, incorrectly, that large operations are automatically high risk. In fact, that is not true. I know for a fact because I've been to some large operations which have no environmental problems and they will not for a long time, if ever.
So I have two questions regarding risk. First, what characteristics should define an operation as having high risk? And what is that risk? That is not defined in the strategy, and I hope that industry has a chance to be involved in defining that, because if that's defined before industry is involved, then it's not going to be implementable, it's not going to be what I would call fair, because each of us has a different definition of risk and we need to come to some consensus on that.
The second question on risk is, will corrective and preventative actions be developing using a risk-based approach? In other words, will risk, in fact, be addressed by the BMPs or management practices that are recommended in the CNMPs? Will producers be expected to spend money when no difference to the environment will result? It's a critical question because we have producers already that are economically stressed, and to make them do things that are not going to benefit the environment is a waste of money.
In cases where the risk is low or where the benefits far exceed the cost or the benefits are far exceeded by the cost, no action may be the best alternative.
The second topic of comment deals with the criterion for the 25-year/24-hour storm event as now being exempt. Anything that would flow over during that period would be exempt from regulation. In Strategic Issue No. 3, EPA/USDA consider removal of the NPDS exemption, the 25-year/24-hour storm, if that is not going to be used any longer as a design criterion or as an exemption, what will be put in its place? Will a larger storm event be placed in that or a smaller storm event? How will that go? That needs to be something that is considered in revising that strategic issue.
The third issue is permitting. There will be 15,000 or 20,000 new permits required. How will that be handled? That's an incredible workload for the regulators. They're already under-staffed, as we always hear. How will that be handled in a way that's expedient and addresses some of the issues that you intend to address with the strategy? Thank you.
MR. REWERTS: Thank you. Our next speaker is Jay Lazarus. He'll be followed by Dave Carter. Mr. Lazarus.
MR. LAZARUS: My name is Jay Lazarus with Glorietta Geoscience, Inc., Santa Fe and Taos, New Mexico. I'm an environmental consultant to the dairy producers of New Mexico. In the past two years I've worked on numerous dairy discharge permits and reviewed more than 150 individual dairy discharge permits.
The Draft Unified Strategy on Animal Feeding Operation was prepared by USDA/EPA federal team. I've had more than 20 years' experience working with federal teams on both environmental and water rights issues. When a federal team appears in a state to work on a federal initiative, the results are either extremely positive or extremely negative.
In cases where the outcome is positive, the federal team has presented an initiative or strategy and then followed the lead of the regulated community and appropriate state regulatory agency. When working on unified strategy for AFOs, I think it is in everyone's best interest for USDA and EPA staff to take direction from the states and regulated community.
At this point the CNMPs in your proposed unified strategy will apparently be reviewed by NRCS. Assuming the NRCS is the appropriate agency to review CNMPs, this places the NRCS in a regulatory role. The unified strategy should be revised to clearly distinguish that NRCS is not a regulatory agency and its role should remain as an advisory agency to the agriculture industry.
In terms of financial assistance to the CAFOs, we'd like to know how available funds will be allocated between larger and smaller AFOs to assure a level playing field. Additionally, in the unified strategy it stated that in 1997 and '98 requests for funds for AFOs during each of these years was for approximately three times the available funding. Where is this financial assistance going to come from in an era of smaller government but less spending?
Many AFOs in the Southwest have significantly more land available for process water lagoon and land application than comparable AFOs in areas with limited acreage. Due to available acreage, numerous dairies in New Mexico and other Southwestern states are capable of retaining processed water plus the chronic or catastrophic storm events.
Dairies and other AFOs that do not meet the discharge as a result of catastrophic or chronic events should not be classified as CAFOs regardless of the number of animals at the facility. Definition of a CAFO should be based solely on the need to discharge regardless of the number of animals.
Numerous state environmental regulatory agencies already have ground water discharge permitting which regulates discharges to ground water and surface water. Many initiatives proposed in the draft unified strategy are already addressed in state ground water discharge permits and state ground water statutes.
One issue that has been brought up in the Region 6 draft general NPDS permit in the unified strategy is the ground water connection to surface waters of the Untied States. This ground water surface water connection has not been defined and needs to be both defined and clarified in the unified strategy.
Off-site land application of manure is an important means for dairy producers to recycle manure. Poor quality alkaline soils are common in many areas of the arid Southwest and these soils, once conditioned with manure, become productive farms which provide locally grown feed to the dairies.
This symbiotic relationship between the dairies and farmers --
MR. REWERTS: Thank you, Jay. You can include your written remarks and send them in, of course. We appreciate your consideration of the time. We have a lot of speakers, and we want to be sure we don't discriminate against those at the end.
Our next speaker is Dave Carter. He'll be followed by Leon Silkmon. Dave.
MR. CARTER: Thank you, Milan. My name is Dave Carter. I'm president of the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union. We're a general agricultural organization representing independent producers in Colorado, Wyoming, and New Mexico.
I also appreciate this listening session. We feel that it's important that as we take a look at the national strategy that we recognize the fact that the Clean Water Act focuses heavily on surface water. But we're in an area that is heavily dependent upon ground water, and we need to recognize the problems associated with that.
In regard to the statistics that were shown earlier, I would say you're a little optimistic as far as the transition taking place, particularly in the swine industry. In fact, since 1989 we've lost two-thirds of the swine producers in Colorado. In the last two years alone, we've had a 31 percent increase in production while we've had a 26 percent drop in the number of producers. So we have a massive explosion going on in production at the same time a consolidation in the number of producers.
We also need to take a look at the documented problems, not only in North Carolina as you saw earlier but also in Colorado, that we have had one facility that described themselves as state of the art in late September. In fact, when we went out and looked at the records they'd had three spikes over the allowable limits in their ground water.
And that's what led to the passage of Initiative 14 in Colorado in November, not only supported by the urban areas but supported by rural citizens as well, passed in 43 of the 63 counties. And as we take a look at the concerns going on, there are several areas that we think are important in the national strategy.
No. 1, the threshold. It is very important to recognize the difference between the family farm operations and the new industrial agricultural operations. But not only in the 1,000 animal units, you need to recognize the distinction between species and the changes going on in production practices.
Secondly, not only the issue of financial assistance for the smaller operations, but we feel it's very important that we have financial assurance from the larger operations, to make sure that as facilities pack up and move elsewhere, as was documented in Time Magazine two weeks ago, that the local taxpayers are not stuck paying the cost of clean up.
Third, land application. There should be absolutely no land application above agronomic rates.
Fourth, we need to have national standards as a baseline but to also recognize that states can go above that if they so desire.
Fifth is to take a look at the coordination between the agencies. Our organization feels that USDA ought to be the primary delivery vehicle.
And sixth is that in taking a look, it's important not just to have industry leadership but to also have leadership and input from the larger community because these operations impact the water resources that are relied on by other farms and communities surrounding them. Thank you very much.
MR. REWERTS: Thank you. Our next speaker is Leon Silkmon. He'll be followed by Buford Rice. Leon.
MR. SILKMON: Thank you. My name is Leon Silkmon. I'm from Burlington, Colorado, and I'm here representing the High Plains Pilot Project which covers about eight million acres in the corner of Colorado, Kansas, and Nebraska.
Due to the time constraints I'm not going to go through all of the issues I intended to. I want to make about three points. First off is the definition of animal feeding units, and the definition that's printed here is allotted facility where animals have been or will be stabled or confined and fed or maintained for a total of 45 days or more in any 12-month period and crops, vegetation, and forage growth or post-harvest residues are not sustained in a normal growing season over any portion of the lot of facility.
It would seem to me that definition brought forth by the EPA is very, very broad spreading. I could construe that to be in an area where livestock and cow/calf operations water throughout the grazing season of the summer.
The second comment I want to make is to do with regulatory versus local, and then the tie with the possible use of conservation districts being involved. Conservation districts have always been interested in the total resources of the given local areas. It's very difficulty to walk a fine line between regulatory and voluntary and threats of regulatory over the voluntary.
And the one particularly interesting comment I want to make, or concerned comment, is the issue about the individual responded to about the fire-wall issue and the need to protect the trust between the landowners and the conservation districts and local effort.
And the last sentence in that paragraph, "In accordance with EPA regulations, most information on individual facilities collected or generated as part of the NPDES program is publicly available." That don't seem like the use of the fire-wall for protection of information created out of the plans and so forth that will be done on a voluntary basis.
And to bring back and make a little bit of a point of the concern and trust that's being generated is the Clean Water action strategy was released, I believe, last February at a meeting here in Denver. There was a lot of criticism voiced then at the input of writing that strategy, and the comment was that it had to be done in such a short period of time that they didn't have the opportunity to go out and get the input from the local level.
And that can be kind of appreciated, but in the spring of 1995 there was an issue from the USDA and EPA that come out with Dow Chemical wanting information on where different chemicals was, right quick, and the one paragraph, the county offices gathering this information with a note, Caution: Because of the confidential nature of this information, do not inform operators, landowners, or other parties of this request or the potential location of the endangered species."
MR. REWERTS: Thank you, Leon.
MR. SILKMON: Thank you. And we will present a written paper.
MR. REWERTS: Our next speaker will be Buford Rice. He'll be followed by Bob Schlagel.
MR. RICE: My name is Buford Rice, executive vice-president of the Colorado Farm Bureau. Our mailing address is Box 5647, Denver 80217.
We want to thank you for the opportunity to make some brief comments. We'll be filing a more detailed statement on them, but I'd like to point out a few highlights or a few bullets in our formal statement.
Farm Bureau members have been concerned and are concerned about the environment and they have historically supported conservation programs. Our basic message today is that we support voluntary-based incentive programs to improve our water quality.
Secondly, Colorado is a delegated state and Farm Bureau and other interest groups have been at work in developing ideas and programs for Colorado, and we believe progress is being made and, therefore, question the need to expand the federal government involvement with our efforts to protect the water resources.
Next, we think it must be done in the most practical and the most economical way possible, that farmers and ranchers should not be burdened, at this point at least, with additional regulations, and that's precisely the direction the proposal is headed.
As far as the definition of CAFO, we understand CAFOs are deemed point sources and that the EPA has the authority to regulate them. However, we don't believe that EPA has the authority to regulate AFOs, and with this proposal it appears that the definition of CAFOs has been expanded to apply to the AFOs.
Producer understanding, just a point on that. A clear definition is needed to eliminate confusion among operators. All operations in Colorado are now classified by EPA as AFOs because the state regulations do not allow any discharge, and the state definition of CAFOs is 1,000 head or more. So until there's a clear definition, I think there's going to be disputes about that.
Collection of data, a point on that. The strategy proposes to collect information about the location size and type of feeding operation. This information is to be cross-referenced with information on impaired and priority bodies of water. We have a grave concern about the privacy of this information. Confidentiality has been a problem for farmers and ranchers in various conservation compliance programs in the past. And if, in fact, EPA is attempting to get the information from USDA database about participants, then NRCS, the voluntary incentive programs, could be in jeopardy. Producers are very leery about providing information for fear it might be misused.
Quite frankly, if there are groups or individuals advocating a mandatory control command approach, that is that's the only way to go, then we have grave problems and it's not appealing to farmers and ranchers for sure.
Just to conclude, we are convinced that voluntary, incentive-based programs work best. There are examples with the CRP Equip WRP that have caught the interest of producers. If government is going to set policy that is intrusive into the viability of farm and ranch operations, then there should come with that a commitment of resources and the operations of our farms and ranches are not able to pass those regulatory costs on like other industries. That's a simple fact and should be considered somewhere in this so-called strategy to protect the quality of our water.
MR. REWERTS: Thank you. Our next speaker is Bob Schlagel. Bob will be followed by John Metli. Bob.
MR. SCHLAGEL: I'm Bob Schlagel. I'm a farmer in Northern Colorado, the Platteville, Colorado, area. I'm in the Longmont Soil Conservation District board and also represent the Colorado Association of Soil Conservation Districts. I'm a board member there.
When I first heard about the Unified National Strategy for Animal Feeding Operations, red flags went up with concern of regulations being placed on all confined feeding. However, when reading the information set out, I noticed it was laced with the statement "voluntary programs."
Mr. Bill Yellowtail, EPA director of Region 8, in his remarks at our Colorado Association annual meeting a few weeks ago stressed the fact that if this was to be successful it had to be voluntary using best management practices. This places the responsibility of success on the agriculture producers.
The strategy should address all animal feeding operations and to develop Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plans. The assumption is that large facilities are at a risk to water quality and public health whether the facilities are well managed or not. A facility that is likely to contribute to impairment of a water body is also considered a high risk.
With this assumption in mind, the government should assure proper technical assistance to the operators to have voluntary proper management systems work successfully. There would be very few animal feeding operations that would contaminate water quality if they can get the technical help from NRCS and are economically capable to install the properly-designed safeguards.
Agriculture cannot pass on extra costs to consumers, as other businesses are capable of doing. Agriculture relies heavily on NRCS for technical assistance, and with a reduction in their field personnel and the increase in water quality expectations the agricultural producers become the losers as well as the American public.
I believe if we are to have a successful water quality program that the producers, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, EPA, and the research universities must work together to find solutions and help put these conservation solutions on the ground.
It was interesting to me to read in the paper about feeding garlic to chickens and hogs that made their manure smell more like a pizzeria than manure. This is interesting but shows that if we work together at this, solutions can be found.
Regulations become very economically unfeasible and result in economic hardships, unsuccessful water quality programs and a severe reduction in the food chain. Locally-led voluntary programs have proven successful and, with technical assistance from NRCS, the Clean Water Act concerning animal feeding operations can also solve the threat of their polluting the streams. Thank you.
MR. REWERTS: Thank you. Next will be John Metli, and I'm not sure I'm saying your last name right, John. He'll be followed by Andy Spielman. John.
MR. METLI: My name is John Metli, and I'm a rancher right out in Eastern Colorado here.
I agree with Farm Bureau and this last gentleman that this ought to be voluntary. I have some questions, just from your presentation today, that 40 percent of our waters are polluted. What amount is being done by CAFOs? Do you have any percentage numbers? And is all this worth it?
MS. MINERVA: Do you know how much, Jim?
MR. PENDERGAST: I'd have to look that up. We had that listed --
MR. METLI: That's fine. I've read articles in the past that one of the major source polluters are the cities and the industries around the cities, and that's where I came to complain a little bit, because I'd like to question the EPA's and the NRCS, their intent with this. Because right here with what they're doing to the farmers and ranchers out here, when they let Denver get a permit from the EPA to put Superfund material in the sludge they produce through Metro and then let Metro go buy 50,000 acres 60 miles away so it's out of sight, out of mind, and they can dump on 5 to 15 percent slopes, no conservation plan.
The Arapahoe -- the Laramie and the Laramie Foxhill water outcrops on this area, six creeks begin in this area, and the EPA is now allowing Superfund material to be dumped. I question your reasoning why you want to do this with CAFOs and turn right around and empty our Superfund sites out on the ground. Thank you.
MR. REWERTS: Thank you. Next speaker is Andy Spielman. He'll be followed by Scott Reisch.
UNIDENTIFIED VOICE: Andy Spielman cannot be here.
MR. REWERTS: Okay. Then the next speaker is Scott Reisch. He'll be followed by Connie Determan. Scott.
MR. REISCH: My name is Scott Reisch, and I'm with Hogan & Hartson here in Denver. I'm here today for the Amino Acid Education Council.
The Amino Acid Education Council is a group of some of the leading manufacturers of amino acids in the country. They manufacture amino acids for producers who use these supplements together with low protein diets to reduce the nitrogen in animal waste and to ensure that their animals get the amino acids that they need for them to grow. Numerous studies have shown that use of amino acids can dramatically reduce the amount of nitrogen in animal waste, up to 40 percent, and that it, therefore, is a very useful pollution prevention mechanism.
I'm here today because our customers are swine and poultry producers and they care very deeply about the strategy. We've been listening to them and what they've been saying about the strategy, and we're glad to see you here today listening to them as well. What we hear them saying is that they need flexibility as you implement these strategies and regulatory requirements, that you give them the flexibility to manage environmental issues as best they can and not rule out any options like amino acid supplementation.
What we'd like to see regulators do is give producers the option of using this strategy without implicating -- if they use the strategy, they shouldn't be penalized, in addition to using other strategies.
We'd also, as the agency looks at these strategies, we think it's important that they not impose regulatory restrictions based solely on the number of animal units and thereby penalize people who are already doing a lot to reduce the nitrogen in their waste.
We thank you for the opportunity of being here today and look forward to serving as a resource to you and to producers as we try to grapple with these issues. Thank you.
MR. REWERTS: Thank you. Next speaker is Connie Determan followed by John Flank.
MS. DETERMAN: Hi. My name is Connie Determan. I'm with Urs-Greiner-Woodward-Clyde here in Denver, Colorado. I've been involved with permitting for livestock and hog facilities up in South Dakota, and I'd like to just share some of my experience and help you recognize some of these issues in your document.
But, first, I'd like you to recognize and encourage states to do a cost benefit analysis in their permitting process. The State of South Dakota did not conduct a cost benefit analysis up front, and it's worthwhile to do that.
Recognize and review existing documents. In South Dakota there's a thick document for livestock waste management manuals. There's also county guidelines for zoning for CAFOs. Recognize and use the pork producers training program.
And the fourth is recognize and encourage use of data quality objectives. The data quality objective process is a very successful program in EPA, and I'd like to see it used here. That's a process where only useful data is collected to answer pertinent questions, and it's saved producers and industry people lots of money when you only collect data that's needed.
Recognize different waters at facilities. Not all waters at facilities are waste water. To recognize and define what the waters are and the uses and the discharge permits and the requirements. Some waters do not need to be immediately incorporated and should be handled differently.
And then the final point is, with so many agencies involved I've seen producers inspected by states plus, then, county agencies. So it would be nice to recognize the regulatory authority and then inspections are done consistently for producers. Thanks.
MR. REWERTS: Thank you. Our next speaker is John Flank. John will be followed by Richard Ford. Mr. Flank.
MR. FLANK: I am John Flank from Hugoton, Stevens County, Kansas. I'm a farmer and country commissioner.
Three years ago our county and the area around us down at the edge of Oklahoma took on corporate hogs. Our problems around there, using cattle feed yards, our confined cattle feed yards, is a real asset to the community. The corporate hog deal hasn't turned out that way. The most common complaint is smell. Everybody can detect that.
The problems I'm most concerned about is the environment, the grounds, the water. Starting 60 years ago, we became the natural gas capital of the world, and we've got natural gas wells all over everywhere, and in the process they have literally perforated our country with test holes.
60 years ago they didn't take care of these unsuccessful holes very well. About 40 years ago they started poking the ground full of holes hunting for irrigation water. We have got numerous holes over the country that have not been taken care of right, like they do nowdays.
And when the hogs come to town, they went out and dug these lagoons. KDHE, Kansas Department of Health and Environment, requires they line these lagoons with a minimum of 12 inches of clay or cleachy (phonetic) type soil. To start with, this didn't happen. They dug the holes. At the best, they may have used a little topsoil, which is sandy, and packed it in the bottom, but there's no clay and cleachy in the first, probably, four or five lagoons that were built.
If they build one of these lagoons on top of one of these old test holes that wasn't taken care of, we've got an immediate problem because it goes straight to the water. To get rid of this affluent, beings it's all in a slurry form rather than dry like from a cattle feed yard, they run it through an irrigation sprinkler with about 60 percent water. If the irrigation pump was to quit and the check valve would fail on that, the pump pumping the affluent to the sprinkler would continue to pump it right down the well. It's not a matter of if this happens, it's just a matter of when it will, because this is mechanical stuff and mechanical things do go bad.
Our landfill has monitoring wells and money laid back to take care of when we're done with the landfill, to put it back in good order. We've got these lagoons 14 and 16 acres big all over the country. No plan whatsoever to take care of them when they get done with them. No monitoring well, which basically is just a signal that it's too late. If the well went within 20, 25 feet of the bottom of the lagoon, then you could pick up a problem immediately. Otherwise, you're already in trouble before you know it. Thank you for listening.
MR. REWERTS: Thank you. Next speaker is Richard Ford. Richard will be followed by Jim Kienholv. Richard.
MR. FORD: I'm Richard Ford from Hodgeman County, Kansas.
The No. 1 concern that we have in my area is the surface and ground water pollution that could occur in Western Kansas and Eastern Colorado due to the hog sewage pits. I refuse to call them lagoons because they are nothing more than sewage pits.
The pits can contain 160 to 320 acre feet of material and they can be from 8 to 16 acres in surface area. Some are not lined, as John said, just dug. Some are given a plastic liner, which one has floated to the surface in Western Kansas already and it took Kansas Department of Health and Environment several weeks before they could figure out what to do about it.
The oil industry in Kansas, and I'm sure throughout the United States, has found that salt water pits would leak and contaminate ground water with salt water and petroleum products. The problems with the percolation of the sewage pit water in our area is we have a limestone and/or hard sandstone layer area 20 to 30 feet below the surface. This sandstone and limestone layer has been broken by hundreds of old farmstead wells that the casing has rotted away by thousands of oil and gas wells that in the early days were not properly plugged and by tens of thousands of seismograph holes which lead through the rock layers and then when the seismograph explosives go off, that shatters the rock layer even worse and allows the lateral movement of the water to pass right down into the groundwater.
The Kansas Department of Health and Energy in Kansas, in 93 cases studied by the Kansas Legislative Audit Report, found that KDHE did not follow their own procedures or requirements and, as I understand it, EPA has allowed KDHE to set their own standards and EPA sort of takes a back seat to it. I don't think that ought to happen.
Hog factories should be regulated the same as industry standards, and the bigger hog farms are factories in the agricultural field and they are not farms. And that's all I have to say. Thank you very much.
MR. REWERTS: Thank you. Our next speaker is Jim Kienholv. He'll be followed by Dave Luers. Jim.
UNIDENTIFIED VOICE: Jim's not here. Neither is Dave.
MR. REWERTS: Jim's not here? Is Dave Luers here?
UNIDENTIFIED VOICE: No.
MR. REWERTS: You said he's not? Okay. The next speaker then would be Dan Ortner.
MR. ORTNER: I'll send mine in the mail.
MR. REWERTS: Are you Dan?
MR. ORTNER: Yes.
MR. REWERTS: Okay. Then we'll move right on to Kent Bamford. Is Kent here?
UNIDENTIFIED VOICE: No.
MR. REWERTS: We're making progress, aren't we? How about Paul Pierson? Paul?
MR. PIERSON: Do I get their time?
MR. REWERTS: Maybe we better vote on that. He'll be followed by Brent Auvermann. And then after Brent finishes, we'll take a five-minute stand-up break and let our panelists rest their pencils and get a drink.
So, Paul, do you want to go ahead, and then you'll be followed by -- Brent will be up.
MR. PIERSON: My name is Paul Pierson. I'm from Lamar, Colorado. I'm the president of soil conservation district there and also a member of the Colorado Soil Conservation District board.
I'm having a little trouble here. I can pronounce CAFO and AFO but I can't pronounce these other ones, NPDS and CNMP. I think you ought hire Elvis Grbek to straighten this out. He knows how to pronounce words without any vowels in them.
Anyway, my main in purpose in coming up here was to find out, perhaps, what our local conservation district, what our role would be in this, and also as a farmer and I have a small feedlot that I use mainly in the wintertime when I bring cattle off of grass.
Another concern I have is that if the cost of this becomes too oppressive, the small operators are going to be forced out of business and the bigger just gets bigger. And the costs that they incur are going to be passed back, not passed to the consumer, they're going to be passed back to the producer, which is the way it's always been in agriculture. And we're having a little bit of trouble now in agriculture trying to make things work.
I stayed all night here in Denver last night, and I was supposed to get a free breakfast. You know, there's not any free meals but, anyway, I think I paid for it when I paid for the room. But anyway, I went down there, and I get two eggs, hashbrowns but nothing else with it, so I wanted some bacon. They were glad to bring it to me but when I paid for it, it was $2.16 for three slices of bacon. So, apparently, this low hog price hasn't made its way to the market yet.
Anyway, we have several big feedlots in our area, and I think cattle feedlots. We're also getting into the hog business. I think the cattle feedlots have been really good. They've made a market for our local farmers. They don't always pay as much as we'd like for them to, but at least they're there and their checks are always good. So I think we need to not regulate these people to excess.
In our area, a fellow told me once, in a 200- mile area of Garden City, Kansas, there's about five million cattle in feedlots, and they don't eat a lot of hay per head, they eat about two pounds a day, he said, but that's ten million pounds a day. So you see what a big impact these feedlots have in our economy. And we're strictly an agriculture economy there, so I think we need to proceed with caution. Thank you.
MR. REWERTS: Thank you. Next will be Brent Auvermann. And as I said, after Brent we'll take a quick break. Following the break we'll start with Lynn McBride. So Brent Auvermann, do you want to comment? Is Brent here? Apparently not.
Why don't we cycle the machine twice. That will give us a six-minute break, if I'm correct, and give our panelists a chance to flex their fingers and get a glass of water if they want. So let's take a six-minute break.
(Whereupon, a recess was taken.)
MR. REWERTS: I believe we're ready to start again. The first speaker after the break will be Lynn McBride. Lynn will be followed by Jim Parker. Lynn.
MS. MCBRIDE: Good afternoon. I'm Lynn McBride with the National Farmers Union. We represent 300,000 family farmers throughout the United States. I'm here today representing the states that weren't able to participate in some of these listening sessions due to the limited numbers of locations that were available. I just want to speak for those folks today, as well as talk about some of the national issues that we're working on.
I want to begin by commending not only EPA/USDA but the administration for their leadership on the animal feeding operation issue and the water pollution issues. We applauded the administration for unveiling the Clean Water Action Plan early this year. We had the opportunity to meet with the Vice-President on this important issue, and we greatly appreciate what a high priority this issue is within the administration because it is an extremely high priority for our membership as well.
And I understand, just given the political climate in Washington, there were two pieces of legislation that were introduced that aimed to put forward a national animal waste standard. Unfortunately, those pieces of legislation languished in Congress this year. There wasn't much support for them. So, again, we applaud you for moving forward and seeking to address this important issue.
What we are concerned about and what we have been concerned about for some time now is that we do have a national animal waste standard. What we've been seeing is that states are battling it out when large confined animal feeding operations are coming into those states because we don't consider them to be family farmers. They're not the membership that we represent, and so we're interested in seeing them comply with mandatory regulations and we think a very rigorous regulatory program for the largest animal feeding operations is very important in achieving the goals that are set forward in the draft plan.
We're also very supportive of the voluntary approach that's included in the plan, because representing family farmers and ranchers we act as good stewards of the land and we want to make sure we play our part.
We do have concerns, however, with the level of funding that continues to diminish for these voluntary approaches. You look at the NRCS budget. Each year there are attempts to cut that, as well as the EQIP budget which is a very popular program, very oversubscribed, and we're concerned about those budget constraints.
Again looking at agriculture right now, we're seeing very low commodity prices across the board. We need to make sure that we have some assistance for producers out there as they comply.
We'd also like to see the role of the integrator more fully described in the plan because, again, if the burden falls on the grower where prices that hogs are at right now, that's going to be a problem for our membership.
So just again, I applaud you for listening to us, for holding these listening sessions. I encourage you to hold more because I can't do justice for the many, many farmers and ranchers who weren't able to participate because of the limited number of locations. But, again, I thank you for this opportunity.
MR. REWERTS: Thank you. Next commenter will be Jim Parker followed by Steve Neine. I think that's right. So, Jim, are you here?
MR. PARKER: Sir, I will mail in my comments.
MR. REWERTS: Okay. Is Steve -- did I say that right? -- N-e-i-n-e.
MR. NEINE: That's all right.
MR. REWERTS: Okay. I'm sorry to not know your name. He'll be followed by Bob Alice. Steve.
MR. NEINE: You're not the only one that pronounces the name wrong. Usually it's Neine. But it is the German no.
I thank you for letting me address this convention today here. The biggest concern that I have, given today's severely depressed agricultural commodity price arena, this Unified AFO Strategy makes an even more severe impact on livestock producers. The large commercials can pass on their cost, but the small oil producers are the ones that has a lot of problem in trying to meet the additional cost in this strategy.
This is not to say that this is not an important issue, but that the profit dollars are just not there in the livestock business to pay for the requirements and regulations expected by this strategy.
I have some problems with the broad scope of this strategy when it comes to such things as a little odor produced and pathogens that may be harmful to human health. There are many things that may be harmful to our health, including the brown smog in all of the cities or the salts that come from our water softeners that are put in from the cities into the streams and rivers.
So I would like to address you and ask you what percentage of ag, what is ag's actual percentage of blame for this problem? I think you need to address that a little further.
The Comprehensive Nutritional Management Plan is well stated, but the biggest problem I see is in the costs involved with and the overwhelming problems involved with manure handling and storage. Is it economically viable? This will require tremendous amounts of dollars as proposed for the construction and maintenance of buildings and storage facilities.
I like the voluntary program approach for most AFOs. Yes, this program will require a lot of technical and financial assistance to implement and monitor. However, on the financial assistance end, where are the dollars to come from? The gas tanks are pretty empty on the farms and the livestock industry at this time. Are there commitments from other agencies to help fund this program other than EQIP? Their $200 million budget does hardly take care of their basic programs at this time.
CRP does not cover capital expenditures for this strategy. How many dollars does the small watershed protection program have to work with? Is EPA planning to make more money available for this strategy? Loans are great but they always have to be paid back with profit dollars. Will these dollars be forthcoming to fund this strategy?
I strongly believe that the NRCS is the federal agency that should handle this program because they are very familiar with most livestock operations already and the watersheds and land management practices in our local areas. But they need the means and commitments to make this work, and I don't think they should be a regulatory agency either in order to work hand in hand with the producers. Thank you for this opportunity to speak to you.
MR. REWERTS: Thanks, Steve. With a name like mine, I have the privilege of screwing up people's names, I guess.
The next speaker is Bob Alice. He will be followed by Nelson Burton. Bob. Bob Alice? No?
How about Nelson Burton? Nelson, are you here?
The next name on my list is John Plank, and I wonder if that's the same gentleman who spoke earlier.
UNIDENTIFIED VOICE: Yes.
MR. REWERTS: It is? Okay, thank you.
MR. BURTON: Hello. I'm Nelson Burton with the Issac Walton League, and I'm in a chapter down in Colorado Springs, the Pikes Peak Chapter. I'm also the president of the Colorado division. I'm a national director and a member of the Sustainability Committee.
Our Issac Walton League is probably the oldest and with the most conserved attitude of any conservation organization in the United States. It was founded in Chicago by a few men that recognized the need to look into the future for a conservation plan to stop the reckless use of our resources. That was in 1922.
Our pledge is to strive for the purity of water, the clarity of air, and the wise stewardship of the land and its resources, to know the beauty and understanding of nature and the value of wildlife, woodlands, and open space, to preservation of this heritage, to man sharing in it. I pledge myself as a member of the Issac Walton League of America.
It's our concern that the CWAP plan will continue to pollute our ground water and our surface water, both. The League applauds the agency's efforts to work together to establish the unified plan, but the strategy is possibly unrealistic and fails to provide guidelines on how the AFOs will implement this plan in the next ten years.
We suggest the plan include a moratorium on new and expanding operations. We are concerned that because of the long time line involved with the permitting process, water quality and natural resources will continue to be polluted. The strategy should phase out lagoons and support sustainability methods. The strategy should clarify that the standards for CNMPs will include both nitrogen and phosphorus limitations. It should also address all pollution impacts, including air, surface water, and ground water.
The outdated NRCS standards, varying greatly from county to county, are still being used as a basis for the individual permits. Ever permitted facilities should have a CNMP and the strategy should identify what level of monitoring and enforcement would be required.
More individual permits are needed. Many existing operations that present a risk to water supplies and public health should be required to obtain an individual permit.
MR. REWERTS: Thank you, Mr. Burton. Our next speaker is Steve Glazer. Steve, I don't think I announced you one ahead like I have everyone else.
UNIDENTIFIED VOICE: He's gone.
MR. REWERTS: Is he gone?
UNIDENTIFIED VOICE: Yes.
MR. REWERTS: Okay. Didn't matter then, did it? Tom Garrett? Tom will be followed by George Whitten.
MR. GARRETT: Ladies and gentlemen, my name is Tom Garrett. I live in Albany County, Wyoming, on a ranch my grandfather founded 113 years ago. I serve as a consultant on rural affairs to the Animal Welfare Institute in Washington, D.C., and as Wyoming representative on the Western Organization of Resource Councils Task Force on CAFOs.
I should like, in the brief time available, to try to place the situation in perspective and to impress upon you that pollution is a symptom -- a symptom of a much greater and more complex evil.
In 1890 40 percent of all Americans were farmers. The majority outside of the Deep South owned their own farms. Today America's traditional system of family farms is (inaudible). Only 2 percent of the population, 2 percent of us, remain on the land, what Thomas Hart Benton once called "the race of virtuous and independent farmers" is being replaced by a new feudalism, governed from corporate board rooms in which contract growers fill the role of serfs and migrant workers the role of slaves.
A great lie propagated and repeated ad nauseam is that small farmers are inefficient, that they're being overtaken by progress, and that their doom, however lamentable, is inevitable. The decline of the family farm has not been dictated by free market economics. The corporate takeover relies on control and manipulation of markets and a degree of vertical integration unthought of in manufacturing industries. Its way is being greased by one of the most powerful and corruptive lobbies in American political history.
The truth is that industrial agriculture does not work economic unless much of its real costs, environmental costs, socioeconomic cost, infra-structural cost, are imposed on others. The truth is that honest enforcement of existing law, the Packers and Stockyards Act, the Federal Meat Inspection Act, the Humane Slaughter Act, the Clean Water Act, and sundry and other federal and state statutes would unravel the entire system.
The distinguishing feature, in my mind, of industrial agriculture is the mass abuse of farm animals on a scale and to a degree undreamed of a generation ago. I ask you to focus on it, for if this gross abuse were not allowed, the surface water pollution, the ground water contamination, stench, and other problems which engage you here would be absent.
A few weeks ago a Wyoming conservation group, Powder River Basin Resource Council, passed a resolution dealing with hog factories which stated in part that no such operations should be allowed in which confined animals do not have adequate room to turn around and to carry out normal motor patterns and unless suitable bedding 12 inches or more of straw were supplied. If this were done, the problems which you are gathered to discuss here today would be largely solved.
MR. REWERTS: Thank you, Mr. Garrett.
MR. GARRETT: Thank you.
MR. REWERTS: Our next speaker will be George Whitten followed by Robert Woolley. George.
MR. WHITTEN: I'm George Whitten. I'm a rancher from Southcentral Colorado, the San Luis Valley, and my grandfather founded our ranch in 1897. I'm still an operator there, and I currently represent the Colorado Cattlemans Association as the chair of the Water Committee, as well as some other organizations.
But on the note that the fellow before me talked about, a lot of the help that we get from the federal government down through the years hasn't turned out to be what people really thought it was going to be when they started. The first time that I had the opportunity to volunteer in a program like this was from the U.S. Government around my 18th birthday and it started out with "Greetings." About the same time the federal government saved us from our local packing houses, and now most of our meat goes through four or five packing houses and we're currently talking about radiating all of our meat.
The same mentality has brought us NAFTA. And the small animal feeding operation cannot stand a whole lot more government harassment.
The subdivision down the road looks better all the time when we're held responsible for restoring waterways to an unknown standard. Thank you.
MR. REWERTS: Thank you. Our next speaker is Robert Woolley. He'll be followed by Keith Sagehorn. Robert.
MR. WOOLLEY: Hi. My name is Robert Woolley. I raise pigs back in Baca County and I'm a member of the Colorado Pork Producers Council.
I'd like to submit the National Pork Producers Council Environmental Resource Guide. This guide describes the NPPC's policy positions regarding environmental requirements for all types and sizes of pork production operations. It also describes the NPPC's own farm odor and environmental assessment program, odor solutions initiative and other important on-the-farm educational and environmental programs.
Many of the ideas contained in the Draft Unified Strategy, such as the requirement for nutrient management plans for all sizes and types of production units, mirror the recommendations in the national environmental dialogue on pork production when producers and regulators sat down for eight months and hammered out guidelines to ensure environmentally sustainable pork production.
Pork producers support mandatory manure management plans on farms. This is being accomplished. Manure is an asset, something that enriches the soil, produces healthy crops, and lowers our dependence on commercial fertilizer.
I want to summarize in national pork dialogue framework recommendations so you can get a sense of how comprehensive it is and how in some areas it goes beyond what is proposed in the Draft Unified Strategy. The framework calls for permitting of both new and existing pork production operations of all sizes. The framework proposes regulation for all aspects of pork production, immediately for new or expanded operations and over a five-year phase-in period for existing operations.
It recommended public participation procedures for permitting of new or expanding of operations, management and location requirements prevent pollution of surface and ground water and to control odor, including accumulative effect analysis and specific setbacks for new manure and wastewater storage application, standards for design construction and operation of all facilities, restrictions on rates and methods of land application and manure and wastewater, including requirements for soil and manure testing, preparation of nutrient utilization plans and, in certain circumstances, employment of a phosphorus- based standard, preparation of emergency response plans and compliance with emergency response and notification procedures, certification of all operators, training of supervisors and employees who are engaged in land application activities, provision for financial guarantees by operators of new or expanded operations, record keeping and inspections, closure standards for manure storage facilities, civil and criminal enforcement with stringent penalties for bad actors, various forms of financial and technical assistance to enable pork producers to comply with the framework recommendations.
We believe dialogue for participants have not been adequately answered.
MR. REWERTS: Thank you, Mr. Woolley. Our next speaker is Keith Sagehorn. He'll be followed by Angela Ehlers. Keith.
MR. SAGEHORN: My name is Keith Sagehorn. I'm from Holyoke, Colorado. I'm a farmer and rancher.
I'm real concerned that these strategies that we're talking about are going to end up being regulations mandated by the federal government. As was stated earlier, locally here in Colorado we do have some things being worked on to compensate and take care of some of these strategies, and I think that we need to work with local control and local input as much as possible rather than federal regulation and federal bureaucratic agencies with controls. As I said, local control, I think, is a key issue and it needs to be stated and kept.
Free enterprise is what made this country what it is, and the more regulation that we have the fewer businesses, and that includes farms and ranches, are going to be able to survive, and I think that's a key thing that we need to think about, is the survival of farms and ranches as well as all independent and small businesses. Thank you.
MR. REWERTS: Thank you. The next speaker is Angela Ehlers followed by John Wade. Angela.
MS. EHLERS: Good afternoon. My name is Angela Ehlers. I represent the South Dakota Association of Conservation Districts as their executive secretary.
We believe the national strategy raises some excellent issues and we applaud you to bring to the national forefront an issue that does deserve the bringing together of all the voices. We appreciate the voluntary aspect of the strategy.
In the time frame I have three issues I'd like to talk to you about. The locally led definition in the strategy differs from the locally led definition of conservation in the Farm Belt. In your strategy you indicate a good involvement by government agencies but you exclude the private sector. When conservation districts involve themselves in locally led conservation, private sector must be involved. We believe this includes farmers and ranchers, businesses, organizations such as Ducks Unlimited, 4-H, FAA. Everyone who has a voice must be brought to the table.
We question the time frame involved in the strategy. We believe it may be unrealistic. 1998 is gone as far as developing the strategy and getting it out. 1999 is questionable.
Under Strategy 1 of your issues you say you must develop the CNMPs by 2008. Strategy 2 says you must implement. Those are two different words. If we figure implementation and figuring that maybe some of the CAFOs are gone, you're talking about implementing 3,000 AFOs in seven years. That approximates to 43,000 in a year. We don't understand quite how you'll accomplish all that given other mandates and priorities such as TMDLs, CRP, and, of course, ag disasters. So we'd like to understand that a little better.
The other question we have isn't anything you can control but it is up to us as private individuals. A successful strategy requires congressional support. We saw the cuts in the USDA environmental budget, and that leads us to the question: can this strategy survive without Congress?
EPA has achieved an incredible increase in the non-point source 319. I believe the dollars have doubled, which we applaud, but you cannot bring this strategy forward without USDA receiving equal, if not stronger, funding for technical assistance and financial assistance.
And with that, we will be providing written comments. Thank you.
MR. REWERTS: Thank you. Our next speaker is John Wade. John will be followed by Charles Henderson. Mr. Wade.
MR. WADE: I'm John Wade from Denver. I'm the authorized spokesman today for the Sierra Club at the national level.
I would like to affirm the examples given by the North Carolina speaker and the Colorado story by Mr. Carter, and also affirm the initiative taken by the agencies in putting forth the strategy.
We do need strong national standards to serve as a generally adequate floor. However, we should continue to allow states to define and regulate CAFOs in a more restrictive manner based on state and local assessments or problems arising from animal feeding operations.
There's a lot of good in the strategy, feed management, land management record keeping, and so forth, but it needs additions and strengthening at some points. First, we ask for an immediate moratorium on permitting new and expanding CAFO facilities to be in effect until EPA and authorized state NPDES permitting authorities have caught up with a large backlog of existing CAFOs operating without a permit and until national safeguards are in place.
We believe also that EPA could and should speed up the issuance of permits to existing CAFOs not by cutting corners, by putting more resources into the project beginning with the largest. Permitted CAFOs should be monitored several times a year to detect pollution problems and inspection records should be open and available to the public.
We ask that all CAFOs be regulated by individual NPDES permits which are site specific. Public notice and public hearings should be a part of the permitting decision process because the public, especially naming operations and residents, will be affected. Communities should have the right to say no to large scale livestock operations, particularly when they're improperly located.
Further, general permits, so-called no discharge permits, and watershed permits are not acceptable. Newly expanding CAFOs should be prohibited in sensitive areas such as wetlands and flood plains. CAFO permits should specify the conditions of operation needed to ensure that no discharges or pollutants occur, including site and land application requirements. They should also include enforceable Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plans which ensure that the operator has legal access to enough land for application of manure at agronomic rates for nitrogen and phosphorus and other environmentally sound management practices.
We understand that NRCS is working on a major improvement of its standards for CWA permits and strongly support that.
Aerial spray or irrigation of manure should be phased out of existing operations and prohibited any permit for new or expanding operations. Manure should be incorporated into soil within 48 hours of application, and urban lagoons and underground earth and storage structures for new and expanding CAFOs should be banned and existing CAFOs should be required to light and cover such structures as soon as their permits are up for renewal and phase them out within, perhaps, ten years.
Other things on paper.
MR. REWERTS: Thank you. The next speaker is Charles Henderson. He'll be followed by Sue Jarrett. Mr. Henderson.
MR. HENDERSON: I'll be very brief. We'll submit a more detailed written commentary. I'm with the National Livestock Producers Association. We're headquartered in Colorado Springs. We're an association of livestock cooperatives made up of 270,000 livestock producers who market each year 12-1/2 million head of livestock.
We have read the draft proposal and we have a number of concerns. Principally, it deals with the science on which your figures are based. You asked for the cooperation of the industry and, to a person with us, we are good stewards of the land. We care a great deal about it. But we also have a difficult time in being motivated unless we are supported with some good data. We ask for sound science to be used in specifying baselines and that you hear us in that regard.
We're deeply concerned today about our livestock producers. We're in a market situation that's probably comparable to the Great Depression, and that should be kept in mind.
And as I said, we will submit to you detailed issues regarding each specification. Thank you.
MR. REWERTS: I'm glad that noise went away. Our next speaker will be Sue Jarrett. She'll be followed by Myra Wilensky.
And I want to mention that there's three speakers remaining following Sue, or including Sue. And the way we'll conclude is ask each of our listening panel, if they choose, to make some concluding remarks, brief remarks, and then that will bring the day to a close.
So with that, Sue.
MS. JARRETT: Thank you. My name is Sue Jarrett, and I'm from Wray, Colorado. I'm up in the Northeastern corner, right by Nebraska. I'm a rancher. I run a 150 calf operation that my dad and granddad preceded me and ran.
I have 400,000 pigs, give or take a few, being finished out my back door. It's what brought me to this issue. I am here to tell you that after two years of proving our existing state CAFO rates don't work, that our county commissioners tried to put a moratorium on at the local level and were threatened with a lawsuit, that we need a national moratorium.
I'm here to tell you I helped pass Amendment 14 and I'm a rancher and we custom feed our cattle through a cattle feedlot.
I'm here to tell you that livestock cannot always, every animal, be regulated the same. Pigs and cattle are different. Their waste is different. Regulate based on the waste that's being produced, not by the live weight of an animal.
At the local levels there are a few site planning specifics. Some counties have been proactive. Many counties weren't. We got the sites located there and then when we tried to do something, we were stopped.
Ten years is not an acceptable limitation on these regulations. I will not wait that long. I do not believe we can wait that long. Our waters are being impaired now as we speak and not just from CAFOs. That is something that these other people have addressed that you need to address. We need to know why our waters are being impaired, in addition to CAFOs, the cities, everything else, and we have to have a total plan to protect these waters.
My domestic wells, the only recourse I have if my water is contaminated is to sue after it's contaminated and after I've lost a cow herd or my child's gotten sick or I've gotten sick or something. There's no proactive stuff out there.
New technology. You're going to hear a lot about, well, if we get new technology, you know, we should be allowed to do it. If you do in these regulations address new technology, it has to be addressed in the area that they want to implement it with a very small site, and until it is proven it cannot be expanded nor can you say because it's stamped in North Carolina it's okay in Colorado, or because it's stamped in Colorado it's okay in North Carolina. It's got to be done based on where it's located, the climate, the number of animals, and everything else when you address new technology.
Encouraging industry leadership. You're self- auditing. If I come in and say, well, geez, I've been, you know, contaminating for years and now because I come forward and say I've been contaminated, I need funds, I need all this help to clean it up with no fines, that's unacceptable to the people.
A lot of these people put in their sites to fall under the limits, so now they're saying, you know, we've been contaminated, we didn't realize it, we don't want to be fined, we want to be brought into compliance. Well, we want them brought into compliance, but they've got to be held accountable for the contamination they've done.
Many of your small, independent producers, it's such a different scale, and they'll talk about the economics of it. Yes, small producers can't implement vast new regulations, but there's definitely a difference between small producers, contract growers, and the large corporations.
And I thank you so much for coming here. I greatly appreciate it.
MR. REWERTS: Thank you. Next is Myra Wilensky followed by Dan Chu. Myra.
MS. WILENSKY: Good afternoon. Thank you for the opportunity to speak before you today. My name is Myra Wilensky and I'm with the National Wildlife Federation in Boulder, Colorado, and I represent or am working with the Midwest affiliates.
I wanted to comment specifically on four points of the draft strategy. One is the location near the water bodies. We believe that, at a minimum, the confined animal feeding operations must be required to have a NPDES permit as a discharging facility. The confined animal feeding operations should comply with the same regulations that municipalities or industries are subject to in relation to waste water treatment.
Given the volume of their waste emissions, they are like a small city and should be required to meet the secondary or tertiary treatment standards depending on the water bodies that they discharge into. Furthermore, the following should be required: Alternative uses of manure should be considered for the vulnerable watersheds. The owners or operators should obtain individual discharge permits from the state departments of Public Health to regulate the construction, operations, and waste management plan of the facility.
Waste pits should be prohibited from being placed within the 100-year flood plain without proper flood proofing measures and the USDA and EPA should allow the state departments of Public Health and Water Quality Control Commissions to enforce the regulations and to take enforcement action against any operation that does not meet the water quality standards. All of these lagoons should be required to be covered.
Land application. Federal regulation should reflect what some states are already requiring for the placement of waste storage tanks and land application. In particular, Colorado and other states prevent new waste application sites and waste storage tanks from being less than one mile from neighboring towns, homes, and schools unless consent is given by the nearby property owners and local governments.
Also, animal waste should be prohibited from being applied to the land at a rate that exceeds the land's nutritional requirements. This would help to reduce the runoff from excess nutrients into nearby lakes and streams.
Fourth. Preventing leaks from waste storage systems. The construction and maintenance of buildings, collection systems, and storage facilities should prevent leakage of organic material, nutrients, and pathogens to ground or surface water. The dry manure should be stored and covered to prevent precipitation. Both the dry and wet waste should be considered in the same manner and there should not be exceptions. Thank you very much.
MR. REWERTS: Thank you. Our next speaker is Dan Chu. Mr. Chu.
MR. CHU: Thank you. I guess I'm the last one up here. I just wanted to close with some positive comments about what the USDA and EPA are attempting to do with these nationwide AFO standards.
In particular, I believe that the USDA and EPA are trying to do what the citizens of this nation and, in particular, Colorado want, which are stronger regulations that protect the very environment that they depend upon for their quality of life.
If you've been paying attention, many citizens, last November, here in Colorado passed Amendment 14 which asked for much stronger regulations on CAFOs here in Colorado. And as a previous executive director in Wyoming with the Wyoming Wildlife Federation, many citizens in small, rural communities, on the bring of being assaulted by large hog farm, took the initiative and went to their state legislators and asked them to do something about this. In return, they did not get any state legislation, and I believe that at this time national standards are what are needed for states such as Colorado, Wyoming, and others that can no longer stand in the way of the political clout that many of these large hog farm corporations and other CAFO corporations wield upon these states.
So with that, I'd like to commend the USDA and the EPA for their efforts. We believe that strong standards will help the average citizen here and also help the rural communities that have to live with many of these large operations in their midst. Thank you.
MR. REWERTS: Thank you. That concludes our presenters or speakers or those who wish to comment today and signed up to do so. To conclude the day, I'd like to ask our listening panel if they wish to make a parting comment, if you will.
I'd start with Mr. James Lyons, Mr. Under Secretary.
MR. LYONS: Well, let me start with this since we do have a little more time. Is there anyone in the audience who didn't sign up who would like to make a comment or has any questions they want to ask of us or the technical panel before we close things out? If you do, please just stand up and go to one of the microphones.
MR. LYONS: If not, then I want to thank you for your patience and your perseverance and your comments today.
(Whereupon, closing remarks were made by the panel and the listening session concluded at 4:45 p.m.)
C E R T I F I C A T E
This is to certify that attached proceedings before:
In the Matter of: Public Listening Session for Unified
National Strategy for Animal
Date: December 14, 1998
were held as herein appears, and that this is the original transcript thereof for the USDA/EPA.