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PUBLIC LISTENING FORUM
Draft USDA/EPA Unified National Strategy for Animal Feeding Operations (Agenda Item No. 4)
Listening and Technical Questions
REPORTER'S TRANSCRIPT OF PROCEEDINGS
222 North Vineyard Avenue
DATE AND TIME:
2:30 p.m. to 4:06 p.m.
JOB NO. 55636JG
A P P E A R A N C E S
PANEL MEMBERS PRESENT:
RICHARD ROMINGER, Deputy Secretary, U.S. Department of Agriculture
FRED LINDSAY, Deputy Director, Office of Wastewater Management, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
JAMES LYONS, Assistant Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment, USDA
JEFF VONK, NRCS State Conservationist, California
JEFF LAPE, U.S. EPA
CAROLE JETT, NRCS-Washington, D.C.
HELEN FLACH, NRCS-California
DAN JOHNSON, NRCS-California
JOVITA PAJARILLO, U.S. EPA, Region 9
FRED AGUIAR, Supervisor-elect, San Bernardino County
JOE BACA, Senator-elect, State of California
BILL MILLS, General Manager, Orange County Water District
BOB FEENSTRA, Dairy Farmer, Milk Producers Council
BOB GHIRELLI, Orange County Sanitation District
BILL MATTOS, California Poultry Federation
PATRICK MADDEN, National Campaign for Sustainable Agriculture
DONALD BROWN, McAnaly Enterprises
RIA de GRASSI, California Farm Bureau Federation
JOHN GRAHAM, Environmental Products and Technologies Corp.
DAVID A. FOSTER, Environmental Products and Technologies Corp.
DON KLINGBORG, Veterinary Medicine Extension, UC Davis
ED HOVER, Conservation Director, California Division of Izaak Walton League of America
LISTENING AND TECHNICAL QUESTIONS
MODERATOR WEHRI: Now we want to ask you to make comments on this effort. Quickly, the ground rules, so you know. Everyone should have signed up. If you haven't and you want to make comments, be sure and sign up. We will give opportunities here, if you have questions. You can have postcards, and you can mail them out.
Basically, the order of making your presentations is the order you went in -- came in. The first and second person who actually signed up we are willing to, in effect, move down a little further to give the four people who came in together an opportunity to make a presentation as it pertains to this area.
Try to keep your comments to five minutes. This is a small enough group. Now, the four that are going to be making their presentation together, basically, what we will have -- or five -- what we will have there will be, they could take up to 25 minutes. I hope they can do it in a little less than that. But they will make their presentation. And we will basically move on along that line.
What I will do then is call the person's name who is next in line after the first group, and then you can be prepared.
We ask that you come up and speak into the microphone so that everyone can hear what you are saying and what your comments are. And when you come up, first please, give your name, spell your last name, like, I'm Tom Wehri, W-e-h-r-i, so people can get it recorded over here to know who you are and make sure that you are in the record.
A brief summary of the meetings and other outreach meetings will be available and will be posted on the Internet.
So with that, we will start the public comment hearing. The first person on the list is Lindell Marsh, and I think Lindell will make the recommendations to the others, so please come up. And you can use this one, being that the first four are all working together.
MR. MARSH: Thank you very much, Tom.
My name is Lindell Marsh. That's L-i-n-d-e-l-l, and Marsh, M-a-r-s-h. I'm an attorney, and I work as the facilitator and counsel for a group called the Santa Ana River Watershed Group. It's a collaboration very much in the spirit of what Rich Rominger was referring to of local, state, and federal agencies. EPA has a representative on the group. USDA has participated and been down, as well as state, local agencies, dairy interests, water supply interests.
And the focus has been to really try to resolve some of the concerns and opportunities relating to the Santa Ana River, and particularly focused on the dairy area that you are on the edge of now.
The dairy area is about 50 square miles. It's the largest concentration -- there are over 350,000 animals in this area -- largest concentration of cows, I think, in the world.
At the same time, for those of us who are downstream in other parts of the watershed, it's an unsewered city of two million five, so it has both sides to it. What we have been trying to do, as Rich Rominger referred to, is really trying to address the water quality impacts of those dairy issues in large part.
We have five people from the group that are going to talk to us today. And I'm going to introduce them. The first two are currently in the Assembly, State Assembly. One is becoming the supervisor-elect for the County of San Bernardino, which is one of the three counties on the watershed. That's Fred Aguiar.
The second is the assemblyman who is going to be a state senator. That's Senator Joe Baca.
The third speaker will be William Mills. He has been very active and concerned about water quality, in large part because he represents and is general manager for the Orange County Water District, which is a water district for Orange County, which has a population of about 2.4 million people that live downstream of the dairy areas.
The fourth is Bob Ghirelli, and Bob is really standing in for Blake Anderson. Blake is the chair of the water group, the Watershed Group, and he is not in town today. So Bob is going to comment for Blake.
And finally, then, Bob Feenstra, who has really been an active participant and really the instigator of the group, who is with the Milk Producers Association or Milk Producers Council and will talk for the dairy owners.
Chino Basin is the largest concentration of dairy cows in the world. The Santa Ana River, which it sits on, is the largest river in Southern California. We think that the problem, which we believe is larger than the dairy industry, we think that it is, as Rich Rominger referred to -- it really is a problem that needs to be addressed by all of us. We think that if you cannot solve it within this watershed with all the concentration of animals, the concentration of population, that we are not going to be able to solve it in the United States.
So we think that this is probably a pretty good paradigm or model for really addressing this kind of magnitude of nonpoint source problem.
But with that, let me turn and first invite Assemblyman Aguiar to come up and address us.
ASSEMBLYMAN AGUIAR: Thank you very much. Let me thank the Deputy Secretary and Deputy Director and others on the panel for being here today.
My last name is spelled A-g-u-i-a-r. As Mr. Marsh pointed out, I'm a state assemblyman for at least one more week, at which time I will be sworn in as a county supervisor representing the county that I'm representing today in the California State Assembly.
My comments, I will limit them to the issue of water quality in the Santa Ana River Basin and how it basically relates to the criteria that you may or may not use as you go through the process of deliberation on the document that basically will decide whether or not these operations become voluntary or regulatory operations in the process.
Just by way of background, I -- my parents had a dairy here in the ag preserve area for about 22 years, so I do have a background in the ag industry, and in the dairy industry in particular, and the issues that affect the industry here in this particular area.
Now, as Mr. Marsh pointed out, my district does, in fact, cover the San Bernardino portion of the agriculture preserve which has a concentration of 350,000 animals. The dairy industry -- this is an important point to point out -- the dairy industry is about a billion dollar industry. The industry directly and indirectly contributes to about 15,000 jobs in the area. It's extremely important for the state and local economy that this region be able to support a viable dairy industry.
Now, the Santa Ana River is the largest river in Southern California, as you know. The watershed is shared by San Bernardino, Riverside, and Orange Counties. The challenge we face is protecting the water quality of the river while at the same time maintaining the viability of this billion dollar industry.
A simple fact cannot be ignored here. While the dairies have partially contributed to the water quality problem, they are not solely to blame. For decades, as I think Mr. Rominger will know, in the foothills of this particular area there were many citrus orchards. And for years and for decades, the farmers utilized fertilizer agents which basically over the years have seeped down to the basin here below.
Add to this the urban encroachment from the north. This has meant an increase in runoff that has overwhelmed the existing drainage controls in the dairy area, as well as on each individual dairy. The last year, as I think you are well aware, Mr. Rominger, during the El Nino storms, during the month of February alone over 10,000 animals died as a result of the flooding that took place in the agricultural preserve of San Bernardino County. A majority of this water did not fall onto the dairies. It came from the north as runoff from the urbanized area.
The water quality of the Santa Ana River watershed is an issue of state and national importance. We appreciate the $5 million in drainage control funding provided to us by USDA this year, as well as the commitment for assistance this next year. This is a massive effort that will require a unique partnership between the local, the state government, and the federal government.
The conceptual partnerships can do little without the financial commitments to back it up. This is why we invite USDA and EPA to continue to work with the state and local governments to solve this critical issue.
Thank you so much for your attention this afternoon.
MR. MARSH: Next, Assemblyman, Senator- elect Joe Baca. Joe.
ASSEMBLYMAN BACA: Thank you very much.
It's a pleasure to be here, Deputy Director and members and individuals that have come to the third hearing of 11 hearings. And this is my first one, and I'm relatively new, so I'm new to the area and industry. I'm not going to say I'm totally familiar with everything. But I look forward to --
My name is Joe Baca, B-a-c-a. I'm currently the assemblyperson for the 62nd Assembly District, but will be the senator for the 32nd Senatorial District covering the west end. It's a joint effort, a partnership, and I'm looking forward to working with my colleague who has been in the Assembly but will now be in the supervisor's role, because it's important that we all work together in providing the leadership, especially as it pertains to the dairy water quality issues.
Water is a critical issue statewide. Our use of the Colorado River water is being constrained, and there are questions as to the availability of additional water from the Delta, and I don't have the answer to that, but I think we need to look at that.
Cooperative use of the groundwater basin, water quality, and wastewater reclamation and conservation are important elements of the state water planning. Here in the Chino Basin dairy area, it's essential for components of these elements that overlies a groundwater basin that would provide storage for from one to three million acre-feet, a key piece of the state water puzzle.
In addition, water quality is key to making the water reclamation projects in the watershed effective, and accordingly, addressing the dairy waste is a top priority for us. And it's an area that I want to provide as much assistance as possible as the new senator for this area.
The burden cannot be carried by the dairy industry alone, and that's why we are coming to you and others to provide help. And I'm going to be a strong voice in that area, as well. Increasingly, state air and water quality standards and the burgeoning population have made it difficult for the price-regulated industries to keep up. The burden must be shared broadly. And just as it was said, that the 25-year-old regulatory system really needs to be looked at, as well, and we need to look at that and to look at the definition or changes that need to be done in that area.
The state and federal government must join with the county. The state and the federal must join with the county. Santa Ana River Watershed Group, the dairies, and the water agencies have led us in addressing these problems. All have led to a broader watershed-wide system of water storage and conservation and reuse.
I intend to ask my colleagues at the state level to join the county and the Santa Ana River Watershed Group in crafting broad funding packages for these interrelated needs for watershed. I invite you to join me and to help in this area, because it's an area that shouldn't just be a burden on our industry out here, because when the rainfalls that have occurred -- and we all know what happened with the 10,000 cows and calves in this immediate area that were lost. And we have 350,000. And if they could all vote for me, they would cast a vote for me in this area.
But it's an area that we are very much concerned about as we look at how do we deal with the problems that we have out here. We are looking for, hopefully, some solutions and some strategies and plans and how we can all work collectively, collaboratively together. It's a partnership from not only the state and federal and dairy industry, but all of us coming together and drafting strategies and looking at how we might implement a plan that may be effective too. And at the same time, in looking at the water quality and using that too, as well, but at the same time not burdening those individuals, because they have to pick up the additional cost.
So I'm looking forward to working with you, getting the additional funds. I will be in Washington lobbying for the industry for additional funding. The state can only provide X amount of dollars, but the majority of the dollars has to come as we deal and tackle the problems in this area.
MR. MARSH: The downstream users of these waters are represented really by the Orange County Water Districts. Bill Mills is their articulate general manager. Bill.
MR. MILLS: I have some overheads I would like to show in a moment.
Good afternoon. I'm William Mills, M-i-l-l-s, general manager of the Orange County Water District. And I thank you very much for the opportunity to speak to you this afternoon about your AFO. I didn't realize it's called AFO until this afternoon, or morning, anyway.
I want to mention that we are supportive of the draft plan. We think it has a lot of merit to it. But I want to give you a view of the downstream water users, particularly of this watershed, and of the impacts of what this program will be on us. We urge you to have a very strong program in this regard.
Our district manages the Orange County groundwater basin, and over 2 million people rely on that water supply for 75 percent of their total needs. The river itself is our main source of water supply, believe it or not, here in Southern California. There are substantial waters that occur throughout the year, and particularly in the winter season.
Most of the water that comes down the river is composed of natural flows during storm periods, but a lot of it is composed of flows from well-regulated point sources, some 21 different wastewater plants that have the watershed discharge into the river. Now, our district captures virtually every drop of water that is put into the river. We are the downstream agency, and when you live at the bottom of a watershed, you get some benefits, but you also get some problems, too, since everything that's discharged upstream eventually gets into our water supply.
But I wanted to mention that there is an aspect of the AFO which I think is not well- addressed, and that is the fact of salinity. You talk about nutrient management, but our watershed is in need of salinity management as well as nutrient management. And I think that's something that needs to be included.
I want to mention what our district and others have done in the past here to really help our watershed in terms of salinity management. We have in place today a brine disposal system which runs from San Bernardino all the way to the Pacific Ocean. It cost us $100 million to put in. We are trying to make an extension of that into the Elsinore area, and that's another $25 million.
We have constructed or are in the process of constructing two ground water desalters, one in the Riverside area costing about $15 million, and currently, one in the Chino area for about $30 million. And this will specifically address the issues of dairy contamination to that particular groundwater basin.
Our district has constructed a nutrient removal system, a nitrate removal system in our constructed wetlands, which we have built behind a dam, a major water supply dam for ourselves at a cost of about $2.5 million. We have also recently participated with an upstream water agency, as well, who have constructed a co-composting facility. And we are incentivizing the dairymen to move additional amounts of their manure into this co-composting facility prior to the initiation of the rainy season this year. That's reducing the amounts of manure and salts that will flow into our supply.
We believe that the dairies are the last major uncontrolled waste dischargers into the watershed, and we would like to see some critical actions taking place here.
I have the first graphic I show here -- it shows what Lindell Marsh tried to indicate to you. This is the area of the lower portion of the watershed that drains into our area. The Santa Ana River is the blue line running from about midway up on the right-hand side, diagonally across, down into the area. And you probably can't see it on the bottom, but it says Prado Dam there. And the area that's crosshatched is the dairy area. So there is about 12,000 acres of land devoted directly to the dairies. And there is also indicated in the very center here the co-composting facility I mentioned.
My next graphic I would like to have thrown up there shows the issue of salinity. This is our famous cow picture there, which Bob Feenstra likes very much. But this is the number of cows in that particular area, the number of dry tons, over 700, almost 800,000 tons of dry manure, and wash water, over 30 million gallons per day. And those products go off into -- some are removed. 100,000 tons of salts are removed from the basin through composting efforts. And some salts, 90,000 tons per year, are fixed in the soils. But there remains about 30,000 tons of salts that enter the groundwater basin, the Chino groundwater basin, and that discharges directly into the Santa Ana River.
My next graphic will show the impacts on the groundwater resources of the Chino Basin. Can you just maybe elevate that a little bit here? This is the Chino Basin, and the area in brown highlights the dairy area I just mentioned, Prado Dam being in the very bottom. In this particular basin, actually, groundwater seeps into the Santa Ana River and becomes a part of our water supply.
With regard to nitrates, which there is a federal drinking water standard of 10, you will see in the lower area of this basin in the dairy area that the concentrations are two to three and four times the drinking water standard by EPA. That's an acute health problem in itself.
My next graphic which shows the total salinity which I don't think is addressed -- it is not addressed in your program. For the same area down in the lower portion we find that here the total dissolved solid salinity is up to three to four times the recommended level. The recommended level is 500 milligrams per liter. And we see concentrations of 2,000 to 2,500 there. So the water is not very usable there.
That is the last of my charts here.
Additionally, there are direct discharges into the tributaries of the river during storm events, as there were last year. We had a massive fish kill in one of our basins downstream, which is a recharge basin but also used for a fishing concession.
Now, we have not observed any acute health problems from what has occurred upstream of us, but we do recognize that there is an enormous amount of cost-shifting here. This is a billion- dollar-a-year industry, as you just heard. And yet the cost to manage that problem seem to fall upon us. Downstream users have additional costs because of salinity. There is added costs for corrosion of pipes. More salts for water softening. And these amount to, according to a recent study, for each milligram per liter of additional salts in a system, it costs the consumer about $1 per year. So there is significant additional cost added there.
Another example is the cost of nitrate removal and its protection, such as the cost of desalters that I mentioned. To develop a desalter, it costs about 40 percent more than it does to import water from far-off places like the Colorado River and the state water project. These costs are also borne by the water community.
Now, getting to the AFO draft strategy, we believe that the strategy you have here is very similar to the one that has been developed by our regional board here in early 1990, so we are very supportive of it. We believe that Strategic Issue 3, which is entitled Implementing and Improving Existing Regulatory Programs, we believe that this is the cornerstone to the entire strategy. The entire strategy we believe will succeed or fail based on that issue. That implementation can only be achieved through adequate staffing for compliance and enforcement.
As indicated, in our region we have had a program like this in place for several years, but we have always lacked adequate funding for necessary staffing and implementation. We understand that EPA's regional office also lacks adequate staffing for those functions. So I encourage you to address the very critical issue of funding.
You have done a very great job, I think, in looking at Issue No. 2 where you have described the funding sources very well. But I think for this particular strategy issue, you must identify additional funding sources.
Thank you very much for the opportunity.
MR. MARSH: I would like you to keep in mind as you listen to this that when you look at the groundwater basin that Bill was describing, it becomes not just important to this watershed, but it really becomes important to have the state really provide water statewide, because if you don't have water we can use in that groundwater basin, then we would have to rely on water coming from up north and the Colorado River. This becomes very important.
In a like matter, the salt system Bill was talking about, we take the manure now as well as biosolids from the watershed and take it up to the San Joaquin Valley. Well, San Joaquin Valley doesn't have a drain, as you well know, Mr. Rominger. And so we really need to start looking systemically at the way we deal with these problems.
Our fourth speaker is Bob Ghirelli, and he is really speaking for Blake Anderson, who is the assistant manager of the Orange County Sanitation District. The Orange County Sanitation District has been key to the formation of this group. Bob.
MR. GHIRELLI: Thank you, Lindell.
I'm probably not the best person to be speaking for Blake since I am losing my voice, but hopefully it will hold out.
Good afternoon. My name is Bob Ghirelli. I'm the director of technical services for the Orange County Sanitation District. And my last name is spelled G-h-i-r-e-l-l-i.
The Sanitation District processes about 250 million gallons per day of wastewater generated by approximately 2.2 million residents of central and northwest Orange County. And while we are an urban sanitation agency, our interests extend to the issues of animal feeding operations and dairy waste management, particularly here in the Chino Basin.
Specifically, as our agency, in cooperation with the water district, moves to recycle more of our effluent, there is a need to ensure that the groundwater in these basins into which this high quality recycled water will be percolated meets water quality standards that is protective of public health.
Under the Santa Ana River Watershed Group umbrella, we have developed for the first time, I think, a successful coalition of upper basin and lower basin interests, urban and agriculture interests, local, state and federal government, and public and private interests. And so we hope that your strategy will provide and support -- provide support for collaborative efforts similar to this coalition, because we believe that through this effort, we are creating opportunities to make real progress in managing the salt, manure and wash water generated by the dairies.
For example, through the efforts of the Santa Ana River Watershed Group, the State Water Resources Control Board in Sacramento has recently approved a $500,000 loan that will be used to connect several of these dairies to the Orange County Sanitation District system. And that will be an attempt to demonstrate the feasibility of collecting, treating, and disposing of dairy wash water. And if successful, if this program is expanded, I believe it has a real potential to remove from the basin significant amounts of salt that would otherwise be discharged to the groundwater.
And the sanitation district's board of directors just recently, in fact, last week, gave the go-ahead to staff to explore the purchase of a 640-acre site in Kern County to develop a co- composting facility. This site could potentially produce a variety of compost products made from not only the district's own biosolids, but dairy manure from this basin and other areas, urban green wastes and food wastes.
So providing a policy framework and financial support for strategy can help to make these initiatives and other similar initiatives a reality. And the right strategy can help us to build sustainable capacity for responsible dairy waste management in this region.
Specifically, what we need is a policy that strikes a proper balance between voluntary and regulatory measures that encourages and promotes voluntary initiatives and deals firmly with the bad actors that don't cooperate. Technical assistance and financial assistance for carrying out nutrient and salt management programs are vitally important to the success of our watershed-based efforts.
What we would like to see is a strategy that provides flexibility by inserting a time and resources loop into the regulatory process. By that I mean, a process that provides for establishing water quality standards; that puts down time frames for the development of the best management practices that are aimed at improving water quality; that provides cost-share support; and that targets the laggards for permits and enforcement.
We believe that within this framework, the producers of manure can choose which practices are best for their individual operations and then work collaboratively with other waste producers, such as the sanitation district, to produce marketable products, improve water quality, and all the while supporting the economic viability of the dairy industry.
Thank you very much for your time.
MODERATOR WEHRI: Thank you.
MR. MARSH: I would like to mention just one metaphor that we have used in explaining the way that we work collaboratively. And it's the old American art of quilt-making. And it is the idea that -- the key to it is that there are a number of patches that are developed by individual people pursuant to their own creative exercises. And what we are trying to do is respect those, respect the individual freedom and the individualism of the various pieces, not to tread on that, but at the same time, to stitch it together to make something that is coherent. And we think that that's really the trick, to try to do that by doing both pieces, respect and collaboration.
With that, finally, we are going to end with Bob Feenstra. Bob is the executive director of the Milk Producers Council and has been really a key player in this.
MR. FEENSTRA: Thank you, Lindell.
Deputy Director Rominger, thank you so much for coming to the Chino Basin. And all of you from USDA and EPA, we are glad to have you here and just share some of the concerns we have and how we can become a partnership in solving many of the concerns of the public, to protect the public, to conform with clean water.
So let me just start out by saying first of all, your presentation was great. The two legislators, who would probably rather not have heard your presentation, did appreciate it very much and would like copies of it. So let's make a note that we get that to them.
My name is Bob Feenstra, spelled F-e-e-n-s-t-r-a. The first thing I would like to point out is that we have had the opportunity this past year, and Deputy Secretary, you are aware of it, that we worked with NRCS and through some funding to do our EQIP program. And 72 of our dairy farmers graduated with certificates, with a balance of some 20 that need to finish that third class and get their certificate.
But there is a key point: That education is an important factor in making this all work.
No. 3, that EPA is taking an active interest in working with the industry. Mr. Lindsay, your staff met with us in San Francisco a couple of weeks ago. And we had an opportunity to go through all of this. And it was not easy for me to behave and sit through that session with all the concerns that are on the table.
But the dairy industry is a very responsible, effective, cost-effective industry. And I'm not going to go through all the problems that we are facing here in this area because you have heard it already. But I need you to know that we need to work together with EPA, not against each other, but become closer together to seek the solutions that we need to bring to this area to protect the water.
I would also like to say that our new director, Jeff Vonk, came out and made a tour of the area, and he showed the concern and was able to see it first-hand. It caused him a headache, but it was a good tour.
MR. VONK: It was.
MR. FEENSTRA: I would also like to point out that the Congress -- and with the help of EPA and USDA, we were able to get $5 million for something I really didn't believe in ten years ago, Rich, and that was a catch basin. A catch basin. That makes no sense at all in an area like this. However, with the lack of infrastructure, flood control and so forth, we have a 320-acre catch basin that's being constructed. Not only are we going to be able to use some of the dirt to come out of that to protect the dairies and repair our berms and do a better job, but this water is going to be captured from upstream, held during the storms, and then released so Mr. Mills and the Orange County Water District can get clean water coming from our areas when the storms are subsiding.
Fourthly, I need to say to all of you that fines, violations -- I haven't always found the stick to work real good. I find that working with the industry, working with the dairy farmers, suggesting and directing them in solutions to protect the water, to remove the nutrients in a responsible way works better.
Also, the State of California has been very helpful through the Proposition 204 to provide us with some money to repair our roads and to bring ditches in that have been ignored for more than 20 years by the county so that we ditch the storm water and keep it off the dairies rather than let it flow onto the dairies and create the problems that Mr. Aguiar pointed out to all of you.
The one I'm most proud of is what Orange County Sanitation District talked about. I'm originally from Paramount Ridge, where we had our dairy industry early on, Cerritos, Dairy Valley where we sewered the dairies. Now, that's going to be a very, very expensive project for this area, if it can be done. But we are doing a pilot project that will actually take 420,000 gallons of water a day, deliver it to Orange County Sanitation for treatment to see if it's possible that we put up catch basins or some type of a process where we can collect the runoff during heavy storms and direct it towards the ocean after treatment rather than into the Santa Ana River.
So those are the positive things that I want to point out today. And to wrap it up, I think that we need to promise to work with our dairy farmers to have initiatives, to have projects that will control waste. And how are we going to do that? I just have four of them I want to point out and then wrap it up, because we are doing a lot of repetition here.
And this is going to take a lot of funding, but to improve dairy farm environmental containment and expand the county flood control facility. That's very, very important. Please understand. There's no infrastructure whatsoever in this area to collect the storm waters.
Move manure from the dairy facilities. Move the backlog of manure out of here, again, protecting the environment downstream.
Increase and maintain the capacity of manure management facilities, meaning update our facilities, bring the dirt on, protect the area, the dairy's area from any discharge whatsoever.
With that, Mr. Secretary and gentlemen, we need to look to you, to the government, for assistance, for professional guidance, and for funding if we are going to accomplish all these initiatives.
Thank you so much. And I will be happy to answer any questions.
MODERATOR WEHRI: Question here.
MR. LINDSAY: Can you give us just a little bit more information on, say, characterizing the industry in terms of how many dairy farms do we have? What is the normal size of these in terms of number of animal units and that kind of thing?
And secondly, a slightly different question. In this voluntary effort that you are putting together here to try to address this problem, what percentage, roughly, of the dairy concerns that you have there are actually participating in this effort?
MR. FEENSTRA: There are approximately 192 dairies that are directly affecting what we call the Santa Ana River Watershed. And those dairies have an average herd size of approximately 650, from the smallest being down somewhere in the 500 to several that are over 1,000, 1,200 and one as large as 1,400.
I need to share that our chairman, Pete Vander Poole is here today and many members of the board. In fact, all the dairy industry is going to be involved. Pete is directing a seminar with all the local cooperatives, milk cooperatives -- that would be Dairy Farmers of America, California Milk Producers, and many of the other dairy associations that market milk -- called them into one meeting, have Orange County and the sanitation district make presentations so we are all on board together.
We have taken the lead in this project, but we need to get everyone involved. Our board is very much behind the whole process. And if we don't work together, we are not going to solve the problems. They are just not going to get solved.
What are we doing? The sewering project. We have the Inland Empire Utility Agency. It's what used to be called the Chino Water District, and they have spent $12 million on a composting facility where we right now are taking 150,000 tons of manure, with the support of Orange County Water District, meaning some subsidization, to get the product to the facility. That has been very beneficial. But again, we need to get the infrastructure in place.
I would say Mr. Thiebold, if he was speaking, he would say about a third of the dairies are in real serious harm's way when the water comes out of the up-lying area. We have to get our handle on that if we are going to protect any discharges to the river.
MR. MARSH: Let me give you a vision of the problem we are facing here, which is different. This is an urbanized watershed, a very concentrated number of dairies, a very large population. Maybe as a vision, if you look at the areas you are dealing with, EPA particularly, dealing with around the country, the Everglades, the Delta, the Chesapeake, the Columbia, those are mega, mega- ecosystems.
There is the next level, next tier of watersheds that really needs addressing, like the Santa Ana. I suspect that when we talk about the reauthorization of the Clean Water Act, that we really need to look at something like ISTEA that might work with respect to these kinds of watersheds. My guess is that Santa Ana is probably up towards the top of that second tier of areas that could be addressed in a collaborative, large-scale mode.
Thank you very much, Tom.
MODERATOR WEHRI: Thank you. That concludes, actually, the total presentation for the five members, six members, actually. So thank you.
Next is Bill Mattos from the California Poultry Federation. Bill, you can use that or here, whatever you so desire.
And following Bill is going to be Patrick Madden from the National Campaign for Sustainable Agriculture.
MR. MATTOS: Good afternoon, Secretary Rominger, Deputy Director Lindsay, ladies and gentlemen.
My name is Bill Mattos, M-a-t-t-o-s. I'm the president of the California Poultry Federation, and our offices are in Modesto, Washington, and Sacramento.
Last time I talked to Secretary Rominger was a couple of years ago when we were running across the country talking about the new definition of fresh poultry, which we changed, thanks to a lot of consumers in the nation and our association. And I'm glad to report to all of you and to all of you in the audience that when you buy the turkey this year and it has the "fresh" label on it, it's never been frozen as hard as a bowling ball. So we know you do respond to these hearings.
One of the things I would like to just tell you is that the California Poultry Federation is a very proactive organization. We had the first quality assurance program for the meat industry in the nation. And we have it implemented now with about 99 percent of our members on the quality assurance program. And we look at these nutrient management plans in somewhat the same way.
We started our nutrient management program about a year ago. And we want to point out that California isn't the Del Mar peninsula. We have vast lands in California that we use to fertilize farmer's ranches with our products. And within a day or two after the poultry houses are cleaned here in California, they are either processed as animal feed -- a third of the poultry litter is processed as animal feed. The rest is put on farmland throughout the Central Valley and the coastal areas. That is completed within days, unless we have heavy rains going on when it may delay it a little bit. So every part of our product is used and used very quickly.
So we like the idea of considering California or any other region separately from the nation as a whole, because we think we need to utilize our products and processes a little bit differently.
We met last week for our second meeting on our nutrient management plan, and our efforts are combined with California Department of Food and Agriculture, Cal EPA, the State Water Resources Control Board, the EPA and UC Extension. The University of California has some very fine scientists and professors who have worked with us on this whole plan.
We are in the process of putting together our own plan. I'm a little bit concerned about the certified person that we need to put these plans together. And I really don't understand that. But we will try to understand that a little more as we go. We think we can put our plans together without a so-called certified person to do it, because I really don't know that there is anyone certified in California that will be able to put together a plan that will fit our state. I think all of these agencies together can come up with a plan, and that's what we are hoping to do.
Our rainfall in most of the poultry growing area is about 10 to 12 inches a year, which you get maybe that much in a couple of days in the Maryland and Delaware area. So we know that's a concern about poultry. And we don't fall into that category.
The percent -- when you look at land application of our poultry nutrients, the percent of land we use compared to the manure that's spread is a very small, minute percentage. For example, when you spread manure in Delaware, it's probably on 80 percent of the land. Here we have so much land that we have more demand for our product, our poultry manure product, than we have product. And it's easy to get our growers, unlike the dairymen -- there is a lot of dairymen in California, and they have -- some of my best friends in Modesto where I live in that area are dairymen. And we have a lot of dairymen out there. And to get them all together on the same page is a challenge for them.
We have three processors who produce 99 percent of all the poultry in California, two family-owned companies in California that produce 99 percent of the broilers, and three companies, one public, that produces 99 percent of the turkeys. The rest of the production is done by very small niche markets.
For example, Willie Bird Turkeys, whose turkeys sell in the Williams-Sonoma magazine for $90 apiece, is one of our members. And he sells about 7,000 of them in that magazine every year. So we have an industry that's very concerned about the consumer. We are very concerned about the environment because we are in a state that if we are not concerned about it, we have a problem. So we have got to work with all these agencies in order to come up with a reasonable solution to all of this.
The other thing about our farms is our barns are cleaned a little more often than they are throughout the rest of the nation. I think you will find the organic matter in that manure product is different than you will find in some other states. So that's another area that I think we differ.
We urge you to consult with our California officials, California Department of Food and Ag scientists, the professors at the University of California who have done many, many studies in this area, and others regarding poultry in the state. And we would be happy to give you some of their names.
We also were encouraged by your presentation before we came up here by the word "strategy" and "voluntary" rather than "regulation," because I think that's the thing that scares our industry the most is because we have been able to develop voluntary programs that absolutely work in this state. And we are hopeful that you will allow our voluntary program to go forward to see how we can accomplish what your goals and our goals are.
I looked through your draft strategy, and I read that the 41-page document is not a proposed regulation but does contain proposed approaches to implementing and improving existing regulatory programs of the Clean Water Act. Our companies who are already applying for NPDES permits already fall into the category I think you talked about earlier. And they are going to apply for the permits and continue to do what they have to do.
But I think it's important as we develop these strategies and these documents and these plans that we are able to do that in the way we do everything else, with the collaborative effort with all these agencies, federal, state and local, to come up with a final plan.
One concern we have in your whole draft document is the storage of this poultry litter. It doesn't seem to us in an area where it's maybe 100 miles from the nearest waterway or nearest watershed, whatever, that you need to have a barn built, an entire facility built just to store the manure when it's going to be gone in a day. So that whole storage area I hope we can massage a little bit and deal with a little bit differently in California than you do in the states where the rain is here much more often.
And that's one of the biggest concerns of our industry, particularly our smaller growers who we are also going to put on this management plan and hope to have these plans in place and certified by this group of people that I mentioned earlier within a year to possibly a year and a half.
So that completes the majority of my comments. I just want to urge you to continue to call this a "strategy" and a "voluntary program" and let the poultry industry and the other animal industries try to incorporate what we do best, and that is to get our industries together and see some results. And I appreciate you being here today.
MODERATOR WEHRI: Thank you. If you have copies of the written material, please hand it up to Anita Brown over here so we have that for our records.
Next is Patrick Madden, followed by Donald Brown.
MR. MADDEN: Thank you very much.
My name is Patrick Madden, M-a-d-d-e-n, spelled just like Monday night football.
I left our family farm in eastern Oregon about 42 years ago. We had a small animal feeding operation, cattle. Ten years ago, I left the faculty of Pennsylvania State University to head up the new -- at that time new Sustainable Agricultural Research and Education program. I also helped to establish a joint EPA/USDA program called ACE, Agriculture in Concert with the Environment. So I want to commend USDA and EPA for working together on yet another very important activity.
And I wish also to commend the strategy that you have developed. I think there are many very good aspects to it, and I will be offering some suggestions for its improvement.
I want to start by agreeing with Deputy Secretary Rominger in his comment mirroring the views of President Clinton and Vice President Gore that we should not view a clean environment and an abundant agriculture as competing goals; that these really should be viewed as complementary. There are sustainable, environmentally sound, economically viable alternatives to large-scale confined factory farm livestock production. These sustainable systems usually couple animal production with the production of crops and forages in a balanced manner that uses animal manures and foraging activity to improve the farm soil and crop production.
The manure and other substances generated by livestock production are not materials that must be transported off farm or waste that is dumped onto the land without regard to crop production. Sustainable systems present sensible and cost- effective means to prevent pollution. Many of these livestock production systems are operated by small and medium-sized family farms whose diverse and numerous enterprises maintain stable, rural local communities and economies.
Just as an example, in swine production, there are a number of alternatives to large-scale factory farming in hogs. Tent-like hoop houses and other low-cost housing systems in combination with deep bedding for hogs keep manure in solid form and allow composting to begin in the bedding system. This system eliminates the need to deal with large amounts of liquid manure and reduces odor problems.
Other sustainable nonconfined systems put the pigs on pasture fields to forage, taking advantage of their ability to utilize numerous forages and crop residues, and reducing the need for off-farm feed and feed supplements. Manure is spread about the fields as the animals forage naturally. In addition, the hogs are allowed to move and interact in a more natural social situation, reducing stress and the need for sub-therapeutic use of antibiotics. Manure storage and handling requirements are greatly lowered.
In beef and dairy cattle production there are management-intensive rotational grazing systems where beef and cattle are raised wholly or partially on pastures. Many of these systems are based on wholistic management principles. These systems provide for on-site recycling of manure. They reduce soil erosion through continuous soil cover. They reduce feed costs. They eliminate the need for most pesticides. They reduce veterinary costs and help preserve ecosystems. Producers using these systems report lower capital requirements, lower labor requirements, improved profitability, and enhanced quality of life for the families.
In poultry production, there are alternative poultry systems where the poultry can be pastured, one example being the Salatin method of pastured poultry where chickens are raised in floorless pens that are moved daily on pastures.
The joint EPA/USDA strategy for agriculture feeding operations is really a good start. However, while the strategy deals primarily with the urgent and significant issue of surface water pollution for factory farms, it does not address a growing list of other large-scale factory farm problems. And I want to just point out five very significant concerns.
One, air pollution and noxious odors. The concentration of huge amounts of animal waste and in many cases the dust, the flies and other problems associated with factory farms has resulted in an explosion of nuisance litigation in rural areas. Often the complaints come from neighboring farmers and other rural residents who have tried to cope with the overwhelming stench arising from tons of concentrated animal waste stored on factory farms or spread on fields in amounts far exceeding reasonable agronomic need.
The factory farm industry initially tried to dismiss these complaints by alleging that these rural people are super-sensitive. In response, some rural residents have taken the matters into their own hands and have begun measuring chemical components of these odors. In 1996 members of the Land Stewardship Project in Minnesota, taking measurements on their own, found high levels of hydrogen sulfide at homes and locations near factory farms. Their efforts were crucial in prodding the Minnesota legislature to require the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency to monitor factory farm emissions and enforce against violations.
The agency has conducted its own tests and has found hydrogen sulfide levels in the vicinity of factory farms that exceed the state's health standards, in one case by more than 600-fold over the state standard.
Another major concern is worker health and safety. Workers in factory farming systems are often among the least protected and the lowest paid in the nation.
The third concern is animal health and selection for antibiotic-resistant pathogens. Factory farm systems are incubators for development of antibiotic resistance by pathogens which are common to animals and human populations.
The economic and social health of communities is a major concern. In many communities large-scale factory farms are displacing numerous small and midsized farms that include animal production operations. A number of studies indicate that a large-scale factory farm in an integrated system that is not locally owned or financed will rely less on the local economy, return less wealth to the local economy, generate fewer jobs than the more numerous, smaller, independent operations producing an equivalent number of animals.
Moreover, the independent operators are also part of a community of independent local citizens who have a set of interests broader than the agenda of a large-scale, vertically integrated organization whose headquarters may be geographically remote from the production area. It is not in the best interest of any rural community to turn itself into a "banana republic," heavily dependent on the production of a single commodity on behalf of a few enterprises.
Another concern is that the agenda for research is totally inadequate. A taxpayer-funded, coordinated research strategy to address pollution and other problems inherent in large-scale factory farming systems should begin with priorities related to developing sustainable, low-impact technologies and management systems.
The draft strategy, however, gives only one limited indication that alternatives are part of the plan. The set of assessment priorities does not include anything to suggest a comprehensive evaluation of conventional, industrial technology, nor does it include an assessment of current research and practice on alternative farming systems. Beyond assessment, the priority list is heavily weighted to finding technical fixes for an industrial model rather than considering alternatives.
Other concerns: Phosphorus as well as nitrogen should be specifically named as a nutrient to be managed. The strategy does say, "At a minimum nutrient management should prevent the application of nutrients at rates that will exceed the capacity of the soil and planned crops to assimilate nutrients and prevent pollution. Soils and manure should be tested to determine nutrient content."
In locations where soils are already saturated with phosphorus, additional manure application should be prohibited because it could trigger phosphorus runoff. The Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plan should promote the permittee -- the Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plan should prove that the permittee has legal access, including title, lease, or other agreements with the landowner, to sufficient acreage for application of manure at agronomic rates. The critical requirement must be met before a permit is issued. Land application standards should be spelled out.
The strategy says, quotes, "Care must be taken when land-applied manure" -- excuse me -- "when land-applying manure to prevent it from entering streams, over water bodies, or environmentally sensitive areas. Timing and method of application should prevent the loss of nutrients and minimize loss of nitrogen to the atmosphere." And I commend this statement.
However, it doesn't go quite as far as it could. Basic requirements are already well-known and should be specified. No application on frozen or saturated soils. No application on slopes. No application within setbacks to rivers, lakes, wetlands, well heads, tiled inlets, drainage ditches, sinkholes or other sensitive areas. They should require an incorporation of wet manure into the soil within 24 hours.
And in closing, merely reducing the environmental and health damage done by agriculture is not an acceptable goal. We can do better than that. It's not enough to regulate the handling of wastes. We must devise systems that turn wastes into resources. We should not be satisfied when agriculture is doing less harm. Agriculture can and must become an environmental asset, a friend of the earth and humanity, now and in future generations. This is the paramount goal of sustainable agriculture.
Thank you very much.
MODERATOR WEHRI: Thank you.
According to the list I have, we have next Donald Brown. He will be followed by Ria de Grassi from the California Farm Bureau Federation. And Donald is with McAnaly Enterprises. So Don, where are you at? Well, I knew if we could get everybody up for that, they wouldn't sit down.
MR. BROWN: Thank you.
Good afternoon. My name is Donald Brown, last name spelled B-r-o-w-n. I'm the vice president of production for McAnaly Enterprises, Incorporated, a member of the United Egg Producers.
United Egg Producers is a federated marketing cooperative made up of individual egg producers engaged in the production of table eggs from pullets they own and manage on premises owned and leased by the farmer. Other members include owners of free pullets, hatcheries, and start-up pullets and contract egg producers that meet the requirements for owned or leased facilities.
History has changed considerably in the last 30 years. We are proud of the new safety and environmental programs that we support. In addition, the United Egg Producers are participating in the national poultry dialogue working to develop voluntary standards of proper management.
My operations are located in Lakeview, California, and in Mexico. Both combined operations represent approximately 3 million layers. The litter from both farms are handled in the fashion to prevent any water pollution. The pads that are used to dry the litter are strategically placed to avoid contact with any water runoff. Once the litter is dried, it's stacked and immediately sold as fertilizers.
Many of the concepts contained in the National Strategy for Animal Feeding Operations only indirectly apply to egg producers. This is because our industry primarily sells or gives to third parties the poultry manure that is produced in our operations. However, the United Egg Producers members support the use by these individuals of proper procedures and practices for storage, transport, and utilization of poultry litter as to protect water quality and the environment. I would like to comment on several of these important concepts.
Nutrient management: Poultry litter is an asset. It's something that enriches the soil, produces healthy crops, and lowers farmers' dependence on commercial fertilizers. Properly balancing the needs of the soil with litter is done through nutrient management planning, something the draft strategy expects of all AFOs nationwide. We believe these plans should be technically sound, economically feasible, and flexible enough to be site specific. They should recognize regional differences in the climate, soil types, and the farming practices. And since perhaps 300,000 new plans would be needed to comply with the draft, there needs to be an appropriately long phase-in period that recognizes the availability of the private and public sector specialists to design the plans.
Regulation of egg production operations as (inaudible) EPA, Clean Water Act to exclude from regulation as point sources all poultry and egg production operations which have no discharge at all to U.S. waterways. Thus, they are not required to obtain the NPDES permits unless they stockpile or land-apply manure so that runoff or significant amounts of pollutants occur to certain surface water. Then such facilities are considered AFOs if they have more than 1,000 animal units, or fewer animals if they contribute to the local water impairment.
Since much of the litter produced by our industry is sold or given away to farmers and others in up to a 50-mile radius around our facilities, most of our members are not AFOs by definition. While our industry certainly supports the environmental protection concept, the volume entitled Strategy, we do not wish to endure the expense and legal exposure associated with enforceable permits unless warranted.
Other issues of concern: The draft strategy stated that EPA will consider during the revision of the NPDES permit process several issues that raise concern with us. They include exploring alternative ways of defining CAFOs, including reducing the animal threshold. Layer hens are bred to lay eggs and do not accumulate large amounts of body muscle. Thus, they are smaller animals which excrete less manure. As a result, we believe the threshold for designation of CAFOs should, if anything, be raised rather than lowered.
Providing for expedited designation of smaller AFOs and impaired watersheds, EPA must continue to use case-by-case inspection of the AFOs before designation as CAFOs. Even if the watershed is impaired by excessive nutrients, it's improper for (inaudible) all the AFOs into a regulatory regime.
I would like to close by saying that our industry supports environmental efforts that are sensible, achievable, and reflect the various production systems in place today and allows producers to make maximum use of the (inaudible) substantial land-based agricultural system.
MR. LINDSAY: You mentioned comprehensive nutrient management plans. You also mentioned that you sell or give away most of the manure rather than using it on your own lands in some fashion.
MR. BROWN: Yes.
MR. LINDSAY: Are you able to work with the people -- the farmers, I suppose, that you sell the manure to? Are you able to work effectively with them in terms of developing nutrient management plans? Do you have any experience in that regard?
MR. BROWN: Well, in our particular instance, we do not work directly with the farmer. Most of the time it is done through an outside hauler or brokerage firm for the fertilizer.
In turn, the farmers utilize advisors for proper placement of the fertilizer on their crops. There is a definite limit to the amount that can be used on these crops. I'm not sure if anyone is familiar with poultry fertilizer, but it can do as much harm as good if improperly handled.
MR. LINDSAY: Thank you.
MODERATOR WEHRI: Thank you.
If you have any written material, please hand it into someone there, or we will get it mailed.
Okay. Next is Ria de Grassi from Farm Bureau, followed by John Graham.
MS. DE GRASSI: Good afternoon.
Ria de Grassi, that's R-i-a, last name, d-e, space, G-r-a-s-s-i.
I want to say first to the panelists, thank you very much for holding a listening session in the No. 1 farm state in the U.S. And special thanks to the state NRCS office for organizing a second session in Visalia tomorrow, as Tulare County is not only the No. 1 dairy county in the U.S., but it is -- the site of the Visalia meeting versus this one more easily allows the other livestock industries, such as beef, sheep, swine, and horse, the opportunity to comment and participate in a listening session.
Our producers, the California Farm Bureau Federation, clearly want to protect and improve where necessary the water quality in the state and across the nation. And that is one reason why the California Farm Bureau Federation is a signatory to a partnership agreement here in California on dairy environmental quality assurance.
I wanted to state that first before bringing a few issues up. We will be providing written comment later. But one question or one point to point out, and that is that the strategy needs to be more explicit as to whom this strategy applies and does not apply. Whether that's for voluntary Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plans or required Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plans.
For example, there are nearly 30,000 4-H livestock projects in California. And that is not inclusive of youth livestock projects for FAA and Grange. And I think those folks need to know whether they need to complete, even voluntarily, a CNMP for their livestock projects. And do individual horse owners need to do a similar sort of thing? And if so, will these individuals be pulling technical and financial resources away from mainstream agriculture to complete those CNMPs? And why we even bring that up is that if you cannot clearly say you don't have to worry about even doing one voluntarily, than essentially everybody is going to assume that they are going to have to do one because if, as page 15 states, "The NPDES permit issuing agency may, after conducting an on-site inspection, designate an AFO of any size as a CAFO based on the finding that the facility is a significant contributor of pollution to the waters of the U.S."
What is significant? Can a single animal be a significant source? So in other words, a single animal operation may very well require someone to do a CNMP.
The question we have -- and this comes from the very north end of our state, because it is the belief in reading through the strategy that, in fact, range operations can in fact be impacted in a required fashion in terms of doing a CNMP. And here is just one example. Pasture is most commonly irrigated by flood irrigation in one of the counties much to the north of here. And that's been practiced since 1850. Water is directly diverted from streams and ditches at the high end of the field, and through gravity, it moves through the soil with the aid of offshoot ditches. It moves across the field to the low end where any surplus discharges back into the stream. This is called tailwater, and that tailwater is water that falls under this particular area's adjudicated water rights and belongs to the water appropriators as a water right.
Well, these are operations that may have 300 head of beef cattle or less, and because snow is on the ground for at least 45 days of the year, that they do have to bring feed to the animals. So start putting all those things together, and it's not clear whether or not a range operation falls under a required CNMP or not.
And as one person had pointed out to me, manure scraping, collection, drying, assessment and disposal or reapplication is not only cost- prohibitive, but ridiculous. So it needs to made more clear to these folks who is and who is not affected.
An additional point to make is that we have already been told that there are not sufficient resources within NRCS or even Cooperative Extension to presently write these CNMPs. So if there are not even enough private parties to provide us service at the time, how do we ratchet up the ability to get these people trained and certified so that the CNMPs can, in fact, be completed for all those who have to fall under both the voluntary and required expectation?
Another question we have is how you define an AFO, because on page 2, it is defined as an agricultural enterprise. Well, what actually is the definition of an agricultural enterprise? There are a number of agricultural-type animal operations, but the animals are not being raised for agricultural purposes. There are several of such operations in the state, and although they don't number in the hundreds, there are still enough of them if they, in fact, required assistance with these CNMPs, who is going to be providing that, and is that going to be pulling away from mainstream agriculture?
And probably one of the last points we want to raise at this point is, how is anyone capable of determining success of this strategy if objective evaluations of water quality prior to the strategy's implementation and then after do not exist for each area of the U.S. where livestock are kept in confinement? So we are still trying to grapple with, Well, gee, do you define success that every person who is expected to do one of these plans does it? That that somehow is success? But then if there wasn't ever a determination that there was an impaired watershed or a stream that was nearby, have we just required somebody to do something that really has no value once it's done?
I mean, so we are having a difficult time trying to answer that question. We know that you want an answer, what defines success? Well, it's certainly something other than or more than just everybody who you expect to do one does one. I mean, the fact is there is such a thing as busy work. We would like to make sure that everybody who does one of these things actually is doing something that, in fact, is going to result in a tangible, positive outcome. Because otherwise, you have just tied up time, someone spending hours trying to get this thing done. And if it doesn't have anything fruitful that comes out of it, what was the point?
We have additional comments we will be providing in writing, but these were some of the issues that were brought up by some of our folks that are not traditionally from the dairy area down here. But clearly, one of the points is that the range operators, they are not convinced that they are not affected by this, because there are a number of situations where supplemental feed does have to be brought in to animals. And it is for more than 45 days of the year.
MODERATOR WEHRI: Thank you. John Graham, Environmental Products and Technologies Corporation, followed by David Foster. John?
MR. GRAHAM: My name is John Graham, G-r-a-h-a-m, with the Environmental Products and Technologies Corporation out of Westlake Village.
My background is 21 years high-level information research. I was brought in to basically assess and organize information relating to that industry, as well as the cumulative aspects of it in the health, in the environment, the technologies, the programs, the monies, all the areas across basically all 50 states.
And one of the things -- there were several areas that was, after reading the draft -- that was concerning. And one is -- plus this is through interaction with key people within both the EPA and the USDA and NRCS and a lot of other people that are really trying to take on these catastrophic issues. Because it is an undertaking, from the amount of things that I have seen. What you are up against is phenomenal.
And one thing you do got going for you is you've got state-of-the-art technologies coming on- line. You have got a tremendous resource through the Internet and the Web that you are going to be able to do collaborative communications.
And one of the things that was brought up in my experiences with communicating with both the USDA and EPA is in relationship to their Environmental Technologies Verification Program. And in that program when the definition of waste comes up, it's my understanding after going through the legislative process and understanding law and looking at how law is made and what sets precedents over it, if you go back into really the fundamental developments of it, part of that law designates what is hazardous. And when it talks about the impact to the humans and the health, there has to be a line drawn between industry and people, because technology exists today that can transfer source-point-generated problems into not only product, but also energy.
And one of the things that I looked at was, there wasn't a lot of initial promotion or looking at of using that Environmental Technologies Verification Program targeted at specific technologies related to the CAFO and AFO areas, which was really -- with what technology is out there, it's phenomenal that they didn't bring that mechanism into play early on.
The other is that the Rapid Commercialization Initiative, piggybacking that into using that with the Environmental Technologies Verification Program. There is little, if at all, anything discussed about the Rapid Manufacturing Initiative, which is the utilization of U.S. technology manufacturing capabilities to bring to bear rapid manufacturing of proven and verified technologies to take on this issue.
One of the other things that I looked at, too, was their data acquisition. I was a speaker in '92 at the Laptop-Palmtop Convention, and I have been a speaker at the information industry local conference. And one of the things that's really high is data acquisition from both the USDA and the EPA. One of the things that you can really bring to bear for the public is validating source point data. Where does it go?
I mean, if I got a machine that processes waste material and turns it into a viable product, and that viable product is either energy, fertilization, soil amendments, or other related areas like that, you've got known information. And that information is as valuable to you as the testing of the waters or the building -- the amount of money that is projected to be expended on the buffers and some of the other areas that you are discussing is probably ten times the amount of actually taking on the problem itself right at point source.
The other things that I looked at that I really found interesting, too, was the Cumulative Risk Index Analysis. And that thing is the pilot project to consider the potential for significant cumulative environmental effects from the swine CAFOs. Now, is that across the board, across all of them? Because that's a really unique kind of tool to bring data in to look at the total assessment across that total industry. And I think that would be a value to the industry itself, because I don't think that they themselves wanted to purposely damage the environment.
We all live on this rock. It ain't like one of us lives on one half and the other lives on the other half. We all exist on water, air, and basically food.
And the other thing that came up was the interrelationship between that Cumulative Risk Index Analysis and also the Human Health Risk Index and also the Environmental Justice Index. You talk about collaboration. In 1989 I was one of 50 organizations that wrote to Congress's Advanced Technologies Program. And what I wrote to them about was how cross-agency, cross-industry communication can take on catastrophic issues. And if this ain't an issue, I don't know what is.
I would like to thank you for all the efforts that I have seen from both the agencies and the organizations and the professional groups that are actually coming together on this, because with the impact -- without this being done now, we may not have a chance. The water is what we exist on. And once it's gone, we are gone.
So I would like to thank you very much for your attention, and I will have written comments to follow, and I will submit them through the appropriate channels. Thank you.
MODERATOR WEHRI: Thank you, John.
David Foster, followed by Don Klingborg.
MR. FOSTER: Good afternoon, gentlemen. I'm David Foster, F-o-s-t-e-r. I'm also with the EPTC. That's Environmental Products and Technologies Corporation.
I represent a company working hard on providing solutions to the problem. With a presence in 14 states, particularly in Chino, California, we are interested in and somewhat confused about how private sector companies are viewed as solution providers by government regulators and administrators, as well as by producers and generators, in the context of credibility, viability, and performance in providing real working solutions.
We are concerned that private sector manufacturers and consultants are seldom included in the list of cooperative partners. We are concerned that the list of cooperative -- that the national strategy focuses on permitting the problems without regard to the certification of solutions loosely addressed by certain programs such as the RCI, the Rapid Commercialization Initiative, as John mentioned, and RMI, et cetera.
We would welcome any assistance in systems certification and permitting to accelerate the proven technologies. Thank you very much.
MODERATOR WEHRI: Thank you. We are moving rapidly here.
Don. He is with the University of California -- Cooperative Extension. Actually, Don is the backup here. He should have been the moderator here. But we flipped the coin. He won, so I got the job. And he will be followed by Ed Hover.
MR. KLINGBORG: Thank you very much, Tom. I'm Don Klingborg, K-l-i-n-g-b-o-r-g, and I'm the director of Veterinary Medicine Extension at University of California, Davis.
It's my pleasure to join you this afternoon and speak for my colleagues at UC Cooperative Extension and the Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources.
One of the messages I would like to send is that we take our land grant responsibilities seriously. And as most of you know, we have hundreds of scientists working throughout the UC system, using multidisciplinary approaches and focusing on many of the issues you face today. Water certainly is not a new issue in California, and effective public policy is going to require knowledge and understanding of these issues.
The Ag Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension are looking for scientifically valid solutions to these problems. I think we are committed to outreach and technology transfer. And we have expertise in every county in California and three campuses within the UC system.
One of my message points would be that we don't know enough about the ecology of these target chemicals, in my approach to answer some of the questions being asked today by this proposed strategy and in order today to provide the outreach and technology transfer programs necessary to be successful.
We certainly recognize California as a great learning laboratory for the country. We have economic, environmental, and rural-urban issues that don't yet exist in many other places in the country, but will, with time. And I think we have to recognize that California agriculture has evolved. It's extremely sophisticated, and in many ways, redefines agricultural systems that are unique. There is a delicate balance, especially within the economic realities of California. And in our opinion, there is a need for local solutions.
We have had quite a bit of experience developing voluntary programs, including dairy, beef, poultry, as you have heard earlier, and a number of other quality assurance programs. And our experience has been that we can't mandate these things nationally and have them successful locally. It takes a lot of local involvement and buy-in for a voluntary program to have the level of compliance necessary to be successful.
We would urge that the approach be based on evaluating the biological impact rather than simply monitoring the presence of some of these chemicals or microbes we are talking about. Certainly identifying the presence is the easy approach. We have more and more sophisticated tests that can find things at smaller and smaller levels. But at some point we pass the stage where any of these chemicals or microbes have any significance to biological systems. Presence, then, is not the same as having an impact.
So there is a long way to go. Certainly, Extension will continue to work towards finding and communicating science-based solutions that we are all looking for.
Thanks again for coming to California.
MR. ROMINGER: Thank you, Don.
MODERATOR WEHRI: Mr. Ed Hover, and actually, we have no one signed up after Ed. So come up, Ed. But we will certainly give opportunities here, and we will provide opportunities to ask questions after that. So Ed, all yours.
MR. HOVER: Thank you very much. Good afternoon. It's kind of nice to be the last guy. You can go through everything that you have. Mine is sort of a hodgepodge.
My name is Ed Hover, H-o-v-e-r. I'm the California State Conservation Director for the Izaak Walton League of America.
To kind of qualify my background in the industry of the dairy industry and the cattle industry, my cousins -- I was raised partially on a dairy farm in Modesto. My cousins had the Culp Dairy on Rosecrans. A lot of you folks know the Culps. They also had the Rothesbarger Dairy in Norwalk. A lot of you folks know them.
The reason that I'm here today is the same reason all of us are here. A little wake-up call came a couple of years ago up in I believe it was Wisconsin when a group of school kids were out on a project, science project, and they began to find frogs with one eye and six legs. And they had a whole lot of problems with that. And I think that's what got a lot of this started.
I'm not used to speaking.
When I was a kid, our water well, it was between the milk barn and the pig shed and the chicken coop and kind of outhouse, 40 feet deep. God, I shudder to think of that today. It's scary.
I look at all the things that have been brought up now in the last 25 or 30 years. The Izaak Walton League of America stood at Richard Nixon's right shoulder when the original Water EPA Bill was signed. We supported it. We have had our nose in the business right along.
I would like to give a very short thing on the things that we think need to be addressed by this. We need to put a hold on new and expanding operations until environmental impact is studied and measures are in place. And until a permit is issued, those need to be looked at. They have to be on an individual basis, not a blanket basis.
When you talk about a man on a family farm that has 25, 30 cows like we used to have, you are milking 30 cows, that's not a problem. But when you are milking 500 to 1,000 cows, there is a big difference. If you stand at Grove Avenue on a winter day after a rainstorm, at Grove Avenue and Riverside Drive, you are likely to get washed out into somebody's pasture. And all that water goes into one of the largest water systems in Southern California. It goes all the way from San Dimas, California, to 40, 50 miles south. I had it all written down, and I have lost it in my notes.
All that drains into what area? It goes into the Santa Ana River Basin. And that area last year, as the people from Orange County talked about, it wiped out pretty much all of the aquatic life all the way from the Santa Ana River, down into the Los Alamitos Bay, to the Upper Newport Bay. It went in there, destroyed a lot of fish, and in Newport Bay, a lot of aquatics.
And this is a serious problem that needs to be addressed. We need to deal with the groups. The groups are the whole system. Whether they have to have new systems that would filter and aerate the water before it was released, these systems can and should be implemented. Dry compost is definitely a thing of the future. It needs to be more looked at.
Large-scale operations, the Conn-Iglers and the big operations in this country, are entirely different operations than a local dairy farmer in the Chino Valley. I think that some way has to be devised, whether it be hard money, cash outlays, that can be given to these people as a grant to upgrade their systems, or as soft money and cash reductions for what is being improved on their systems. These systems have to be considered before blanket systems are required of them.
All this has to be considered, and we hope that you do, because it's not fair. As a conservationist, I look on one side of it. But as a child of the producers, I look at the other side too. This all has to be a two-way street. This technology that comes into play, future technology, it will come about.
It's just like when we built the space station. Kennedy said that we are going to have a man in space by this day, and it went, and we all saw it. And this stuff has to come, and no matter whether they fight in Southern California or Arkansas or whether they are fighting it up there with the pig farmers and the large cow producers and the IVPs, we are fighting a good fight. This has to be. It's going to be. And everybody is looking to keep their sacred cow from being gored. But everybody's cow is going to get gored. So we have to figure that out.
We applaud all of your EPA public hearings. We would ask you to make them more public. In this one, there was, I think, maybe four days' notice most of us got in the area. There was no publication in the news industry. Some of the dairymen are here. A few of the people here are from the poultry. But there is very few people here speaking in the public interest. The public interest is the consumer. Thank you.
MODERATOR WEHRI: Thank you. Do we have anyone else who cares to make a public statement? Hold up your hands. No one. Okay.
In that regard, one thing. There are quite a few people here. And if you will hand these out, or if you have additional questions that you care to ask or anything like that, the cards we are handing out, you can go ahead and write that question on there and mail that in to either NRCS, which is in Davis, California, or the EPA regional office. And they will certainly attempt to answer any questions you may have in regards to this strategy and where it is going. I think it's important that your question be answered and that basically all your input will be considered in these listening forums.
If there are no more questions, I'm going to take this opportunity to offer a few closing comments. Is there anyone on the panel that would like to make any comments, I would ask? Joe or Jeff? Any one of you?
MR. ROMINGER: I just want to thank everybody for coming and giving us your thoughts here. And as we said, if you have any more that you want to submit in writing, any questions you have, please let us know.
MODERATOR WEHRI: Okay. In that regard, I want to remind everyone in closing, I can't pass up this opportunity, working for the California Association of Resource Conservation Districts, to say a -- I want to put in a plug to say, folks, locally you need your local leadership out there. You need to build the infrastructure by which you have this communication between your federal, state, and local units of government with that landowner. Don't forget that.
I think local leadership is important, and I guess my function as I work with the association is truly to represent the districts in the state which are voluntary local districts. So we strongly support. Let's look at that as a group. I think in California we have some real challenges due to the urban-ag interface, the population growth. They are very unique to this country, and I think we have got to be sure that locally we can address those problems.
In closing, I want to remind everyone that your written comments, they are due by January the 19th. On the handout, please mail your comments to Denise C. Coleman, your program analyst, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Attention AFO Post Office Box 2890, Washington, D.C. 20013. There are envelopes in the back already preaddressed. Please pick them up to mail your comments in.
And your written comments are tremendously important, and I want to say as a moderator, thank you. You have been a very courteous audience. And with that, we are adjourned.
MR. LINDSAY: One last thought, Tom. If any of you have some burning questions, if you want to buttonhole some of us afterwards, a few of us will be hanging around. And feel free to give it a try.
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: Would you put the Websites that were shown earlier on the board for us?
MODERATOR WEHRI: Okay. Somebody list the Websites here. I don't know them by heart.
We thank everyone, and meeting adjourned. We will put the Website on there.
(The proceedings were adjourned at 4:06 p.m.)
R E P O R T E R' S C E R T I F I C A T E
I, Judith W. Gillespie, a certified shorthand reporter, do hereby certify that the foregoing pages comprise a full, true and correct transcription of the proceedings had and the testimony taken at the hearing in the hereinbefore-entitled matter of November 23, 1998.
Dated this 27th day of November, 1998, at Riverside, California.
Judith W. Gillespie, CSR No. 3710