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PUBLIC LISTENING SESSION
DRAFT UNIFIED NATIONAL STRATEGY
FOR ANIMAL FEEDING OPERATIONS
Wallace State Office Building Auditorium
Friday, December 4, 1998 2:00 p.m.
PETERSEN COURT REPORTERS
INDEX, Remarks by --
P R O C E E D I N G S
DR. JOHNSON: Please take your seat if you wish. My name is Stan Johnson. I am Vice Provost for Extension for Iowa State University and I will be moderating the listening session today. I'd like to welcome all of you to this listening session on the Draft USDA-EPA Unified AFO, that's animal feeding operations, Strategy.
I'm sure that we will have a session where we will all learn some things this afternoon and I'm looking forward to it.
We appreciate, I'm sure the agencies, USDA, EPA, appreciate the time that you have taken to come and appreciate your willingness to comment and will take advantage of the information that's provided in response to the draft. This is the sixth of these listening sessions. They have been held around the country, and the period of listening sessions will continue and end about in mid-December.
The purpose of the meeting is to listen to the comments. That is the real purpose of this meeting, is to listen to you, the people that are in the audience, and we hope that you will focus your comments on the draft AFO because that's the subject that we're here for today. We know that these comments will help inform the process of finalizing the draft.
Obviously, when someone writes down words, words can be interpreted in lots of different ways. One of the big benefits of these sessions is to see how different producers and others interpret these words, what kinds of technical questions are there, and so we hope that we'll have a rich discussion in this connection.
We have about 60 folks who have signed up to make comments. If you multiply 60 times any length of time, you know that that's a long time. We have agreed to stay here through the end of the comments, and we will ask those who make the comments to speak for a period of three minutes. We will get to that in more detail when it comes time for the comments.
When you make the comments, please come forward and we'll organize that process when it is time for the comments.
The program, which I hope you have a copy of, I will not read through because time is short, so first let me welcome Leroy Brown, who is the state conservationist for the NRCS, and he will make some comments on behalf of USDA welcoming those of you to this session.
REMARKS BY LEROY BROWN
STATE CONSERVATIONIST - NRCS
MR. BROWN: Thank you, Stan.
On behalf of the USDA here in Iowa, I want to welcome you to this listening session on the Draft Unified National Strategy for Animal Feeding Operations. As you know, this is a joint strategy between the United States Department of Agriculture and the Environmental Protection Agency. In just a minute or two, Dennis Grams of EPA will also welcome you to this session.
This is one of 11 sessions that's held across the country, but I guess I'm very pleased that Iowa is one of the host states for one of the listening sessions.
You probably know better than I do the leadership Iowa has in the livestock industry. The last time I came, Iowa was number one in the amount of hogs raised, with about one-fourth of the total hogs raised in the country. Iowa is also fifth in the number of cattle fed, sixth in dairy operations, and also in the top ten in the number of sheep, chickens and turkeys raised, so there is good reason to have a listening forum in the State of Iowa.
I know the states bordering Iowa are also national leaders in the livestock industry, and I welcome those of you outside of Iowa to this session as well.
I'm also pleased to have the key leadership of both USDA and EPA as well as Senator Harkin later on and the others that will be here and feel your concerns in person.
I wish, as I'm sure you do, that there was more time to hear from more of you today. And 60-- that is a large number, but I'm glad that you will have that opportunity to express your concerns and talk. But I also want to be sure you understand that if you will get all of your comments down on paper and get them turned in in writing, that they will be considered also.
We have envelopes available for all participants here today to mail their comments for the official record. Whether you're able to speak or not, you will be able to get those comments in. The listening session will also be transcribed and posted on the USDA and EPA Internet home pages and this will be available within about a week of this session.
I do know that myself and other members of this panel will give the speakers today our full attention. We think this is a serious issue, and both USDA and EPA want your help and input in developing the final joint strategy for animal feeding operations.
It is my understanding that the first draft of the final strategy will be ready sometime next spring and implementation will come after that.
So once again I want to thank you for your interest and for coming to the session today. Thank you.
REMARKS BY DENNIS GRAMS
DR. JOHNSON: Thank you, Leroy. The next speaker will be Dennis Grams. Dennis Grams is the Regional Administrator for Region 7 of U.S. EPA. He will also make some welcoming remarks. Dennis.
MR. GRAMS: Thank you, Stan. I'll try not to repeat the things that Leroy said. I agree with everything he did say. I want to say one thing, it is very important to both of our agencies to listen to what you folks have to say, and I think the thing that demonstrates that importance are the folks up here that come out, our administrators and our top management folks within our agencies. This is an important enough issue for them to be here and I really hope you take advantage of that and get your comments in on time.
Our region, our EPA region is Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, and Missouri, and I always tell people that we're very fortunate, I think, in our region to have a state program. Our state animal feeding operation programs are among the best in the country, probably the best in the country, and we're very fortunate to have that, and we hope to continue that part as we go through our states and with the NRCS in developing this strategy, so I'm looking forward to it and I really want to thank you all for being here.
DR. JOHNSON: Thank you, Dennis.
As you can see from your program, our next speaker is to be Senator Tom Harkin. He will be delayed a little bit but he will be here, and when he arrives, he will speak.
So we will proceed to the next part of the program, and Glenda, I hope I haven't--you arrived just in time. Glenda Humiston is the Deputy Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment of USDA. Her area of responsibility, for example, includes responsibility for the NRCS, and she will speak to us briefly about the USDA viewpoint on these draft regulations.
REMARKS BY GLENDA HUMISTON, USDA
MS. HUMISTON: Thank you, and sorry for being late. Some parts of the nation are not enjoying the good weather you all are enjoying today. I got caught in Denver with a little bit of fog and snow.
It is a pleasure to be here. I'm going to just keep my remarks to just a moment or two because, frankly, I think the bulk of what we need to know, to see what's in the strategy, we'll see in the presentation, and the folks who do the presentation do a great job. They have got a lot of practice and they are down here in the front row.
I would just like to state a couple things. First of all, I will apologize because I do know that some folks here were hoping that their testimony would automatically be officially in the Federal Register, and when we tried to set up these meetings, one of the problems with picking ten cities across the nation is that you just can't guarantee fair and equal access to all citizenry. That's why your official comments today are not part of the Federal Register. However, we are going to be transcribing them and that means we'll have full and complete access to them as staff when we work on this.
But I would really urge all of you after today when you've made your comments and you went home and thought about it a little--I don't know about you, but for me, a lot of times when I'm driving home is when some of my better thoughts and better wording comes to me--write it down, get it to us, because quite frankly we really are here to listen.
This is a draft strategy. It is the first time our two agencies have attempted to do something of this magnitude, and even though I think we put together a pretty good strategy, I'm sure there's a lot of things we overlooked.
The second point I would make is please today don't just tell us to throw it away. Tell us how to fix it. Tell us what you'd like to see in there, and if you've got have some great ideas, please share those. I know all of us are very committed and open to those ideas.
We had a lot of difficulty in putting the strategy together. It is difficult to have a regulatory agency and a voluntary agency providing technical assistance figure out how to balance those two very, very different programs; plus, frankly, we've got two very different cultures, EPA and USDA. We've got different interest groups we tend to interact with more often. We've got different committees up in Congress that we have to interact with for budget as well as our legislation.
We've got different acronyms. What was-- the earlier set of clean water and action plan people that come around, they were making a joke about the fact that EPA has got 319 and 205 and 208, whereas we've got EQIP and WRP and CRP, and so EPA doesn't know how to spell and USDA doesn't know how to add. There may be some truth to that. Who knows.
So anyway, the draft strategy is an attempt to put that together. We're looking forward to your comments today, and I myself know that we're really committed to trying to make this strategy work for you all.
The last point I'll make, and I think this is really crucial, this strategy is not a rewrite of the Clean Water Act. It is not a new rule. There is some discussion in certain sections of it of where some rules may be pursued in the future, but this strategy is based upon existing law and existing programs. What we've tried to do in this strategy is figure out how to make those existing laws and programs work better together and make it easier for you all to interact with them, and hopefully, all of us working together, solve this problem that many of us face across the nation.
The last thing I'll say is if you think we Feds are here to solve the problem, you're nuts. This problem and this opportunity is going to happen if it's a federal, state, local, public, private, a variety of interest groups, if all of us are working together on it. There's not enough money in the federal budget to come in here and make all the waters of the nation clean unless all of us, all of us citizens at every level work together.
So with that I will turn it over to my colleague at EPA.
DR. JOHNSON: Great. And your colleague at EPA is Peter Robertson, who is the deputy administrator for EPA and he will address the place of the strategy in the Clean Water Action Plan.
REMARKS BY PETER ROBERTSON
MR. ROBERTSON: Thank you, Stan. Thank you, Glenda.
I find myself in a truly amazing position today. I come to the great farm state of Iowa, and on this schedule I see that I have ten minutes allotted to me, which is twice as long as Senator Harkin, a man who uses a filibuster as an everyday tool of the trade, and twice as long as the Department of Agriculture, which certainly up until now has had a lot more interaction with farm states than EPA had.
Well, my mamma didn't raise no fool. I'm not going to take ten minutes to talk to you today. I've been on the road a lot lately. I just came here from Atlanta yesterday, and the always capable staff at EPA, when it prepares these nice talking points for me, whenever I go anyplace on the road, but sometimes when you are traveling a lot, you don't get a chance to look at them until shortly before you deliver the remarks, which always reminds me of something that I heard a writer say about Dwight Eisenhower once, which was he always read his speeches with a great sense of discovery.
Well, rather than share that great sense of discovery with you and rather than take ten minutes, I know how many people we have that want to give us views out there in the audience, and that's really what we're here for today. And you're going to get a very good presentation as to what this strategy is all about.
So let me simply thank all of you for coming to participate, to tell you how much we appreciate your giving of your time and your expertise to us because this is a draft strategy. We want to make it better than it is now, and we look to you to help us do that.
This strategy is one of about a hundred elements in the Clean Water Action Plan that the President and the Vice-President announced in February of this year. It is a very important element, but it goes along with a lot of other things to try to help us solve some of the important water quality issues that we'll face over the coming decades, and we certainly know that the single most important water quality issue that we will face over the next many years is non-point source pollution, and agriculture is one of the sources that we typically refer to when we talk about non-point source pollution.
So again, thanks to all of you for being here. We look forward to hearing all of your comments.
DR. JOHNSON: Next it is my pleasure to introduce someone who needs no introduction in Iowa, Senator Tom Harkin. I'd just like to say as an Iowa citizen, Senator Harkin, I'm very pleased you came here to listen to the people on this issue.
He has some comments that relate to the development of this strategy and its importance for agriculture.
REMARKS BY SENATOR TOM HARKIN
SENATOR HARKIN: Dr. Johnson, thank you very, very much for agreeing to moderate this, and I don't know where I am in this lineup right now. I apologize for being a little bit late. I was out in Denison and it took a while to drive in. How many have spoken before me? How about good timing, huh?
First of all, I want to thank the USDA and EPA for coming to Iowa today. I want to thank all of you for taking the time to share your thoughts on the Administration's Draft National Strategy for Animal Feeding Operations.
I just want to say a couple of things before you go on with the program. First of all, I want to make it very clear, as I have on every occasion in which I'm in any kind of an audience like this when we're talking about animal waste, that I'm very proud of the fact that Iowa is the nation's leading pork producer. One out of every four hog producers, I always tell my friends, live in the State of Iowa and we're very proud of that and we don't want them to leave.
Iowa has been trying for quite a while to balance growth in the hog industry with careful environmental protection. But it's not just hogs. All segments of the livestock industry throughout the nation, even around the world--and I was just in Europe earlier this year looking at some of the problems that they are having in England and Belgium and Denmark, places like that. They are all wrestling with the same environmental problems. So it covers the gamut from poultry, hogs, cattle, fed cattle, dairy cattle, everything.
I've been studying this problem for some time, and last year introduced a bill in the Senate that would set minimum national environmental standards for AFOs or animal feeding operations. My bill basically would require that larger animal feeding operations over a certain number, 500 animal units, would have to develop nutrient management plans under a set of national standards, and then would provide cost share payments to smaller operations to follow those same standards.
My bill does not call for one size fits all. Instead it calls for site-specific management plans of the kind many farmers are already following today. I've always thought that that was a sensible approach. I've been involved for some years in things like EQIP and the Water Quality Improvement Program and we saw that if farmers got the right technological help and perhaps some cost share money, they could meet the environmental standards.
I'm pleased to see that the Administration's draft plan does look a lot like this bill. It calls for a nutrient management plan, restrictions on manure applications being appropriate in the EPA permits for livestock operations. Those are at the heart of my bill. I think it's a good strategy and good start.
I might just say to my friends who are here in USDA and EPA, however, that this is only a plan for action. It's like a blueprint for a house. It doesn't build the house for you. It's a nice plan, nice blueprint, but we have to get it together, and we have a long way to go before it is implemented.
I am concerned that the strategy may not go far enough or fast enough. I'll continue to work with the Administration and see that the job gets done.
Lastly, let me recognize that this is a particularly tough time to talk about additional expenses for farmers. When you are occupied with simple survival, it's hard to think about manure, and at $15 a hundredweight right now for hog, spending on conservation and environment protection just can't be much of a priority. That's why I'm continuing to push for more cost-share dollars to USDA's cost share program, like I said, like EQIP.
I might also just state at the outset here, we'll get some questions about it perhaps. I just sent a letter today to Secretary Glickman. I'm not going to read the whole thing, it's too darned long, but I am going to say this: I have some questions that need to be answered. I pointed out that "As a component of consumer price index, the composite retail pork price actually increased slightly between 1996 and 1998." Imagine that. Composite retail price actually slightly increased. Well, if the price of live hogs has fallen by over 75 percent and the retail price of pork remains relatively steady or even increases, the only conclusion is that someone is making a whopping profit after those animals leave the farm.
So what I pointed out was that--I said in the letter, "The consumers will pay at least $331.49 for the meat in a hog of which the farmer gets 40 bucks." So I said--in addition to the questions, I said, "I also request a thorough investigation whether there is any evidence that prices paid farmers for hogs are being depressed in any way by hog buying or procurement practices or contractual arrangements that may be violative of the Packers and Stockyards Act of the Federal Antitrust Statute.
"It is undeniable that industry changes over time. Fair competition on the basis of quality and productivity and efficiency is one thing. It's something else entirely different if efficient, well-managed, family-size operations are falling prey to unfair or anticompetitive practices and arrangements."
I just sent that letter today.
So we may have some questions about that, but we really need some answers. I just wanted to mention that because when we started on this, we didn't think obviously the hog prices would go as low as they are, but we still have to move ahead on it.
One of the things I also want to talk about is perhaps even federal tax credits for manure management equipment. I'm going to push that idea in the next Congress. If any of you have got any thoughts on that, please let me know, because that's another thing. If we are going to be asking for better-managed manure and have to buy equipment, it seems like we are all in this thing together and we ought to be at least providing some tax credits for farmers for that kind of equipment.
Let me just close by saying again, thank you all for being here. I do not believe that having a healthy environment and a healthy livestock industry and a profitable livestock industry in this country are mutually exclusive. I believe we can have both. I believe if we work together in the same rational manner, I think we can have it, so I think these sessions that you're having here today, and I know you are around the United States having them, is a step in the right direction.
Basically, I look forward to hearing from all of you who are here today. Thank you.
DR. JOHNSON: Thank you from all of us, Senator Harkin.
The other members of the listening panel are Chuck Fox, who is the assistant administrator for water of the U.S. EPA. Chuck, as you can see. And Charles Whitmore who is the regional administrator--whoops I said the wrong thing--NRCS regional conservationist. He is from up in Madison.
We also have a technical panel, and two of those members of the technical panel will make a presentation now, but let me first introduce the technical panel.
The first is Paul Miller, who is--Paul, you might stand up--NRCS manure management specialist who is located here in Des Moines. The next is Stewart Melvin, who is the head of the agricultural biosystems engineering department, my colleague at Iowa State University. Next is Alan Stokes, who is--I guess he's sitting someplace else. He is the division administrator.
There he is. Sorry, Al, I didn't see you.
Anyway, Al is the division administrator for the Environmental Protection Division in Des Moines.
The presentation, which is a summary of the AFO draft plan, will be presented by Joe Del Vecchio. Joe is from NRCS. He is the assistant state conservationist from New York, and Jeff Lape, he is from U.S. EPA. He is the branch chief for water quality industrial permits.
So let me invite you to enlighten us.
MR. DEL VECCHIO: Thank you, Stan. I hope the quality of this microphone works okay. If it doesn't, I'll just try to project.
Thank you, Stan, for your remarks, and thank you, Senator, and everyone at the listening panel for the remarks you have made so far. What Jeff and I are going to do today is basically mirror the strategy that's been put together by USDA and EPA through a presentation and a slide show. Usually we have a little bit more room to move around, but we're kind of constrained here, but we will try to do the best we can and try to keep it to a minimum so we can get to the important part of the meeting, and that's listening to your comments.
I have to preface my remarks, though, before I get into the actual strategy by saying a tremendous amount of work has been done in regard to cleaning up the waters of the U.S. over the past 25 years. It has been done through a partnership of both environmental regulations and also conservation programs, and I want to make sure that that doesn't get neglected. A tremendous amount of work has been done by the farmers and ranchers of the United States in cleaning up the waters of the U.S. using conservation programs, but there is still much yet to be done, and that's what this strategy is all about. It's really a road map as to how we're going to get to where we are today, as to how we are going to get to some point in the future, and what we're really concerned about is the environmental and the water quality impacts and the public health impacts of animal feeding operations.
So with that, we'll get started by saying we started out this whole idea of developing a joint strategy by some guiding principles, and of course our main purpose was to be concerned about water quality and public health. So our first guiding principle was to make sure we minimize the impacts on water quality and public health from animal feeding operations.
We want to make sure that we expend efforts on those animal feeding operations that pose the greatest risk to the environment. At the same time we want to make sure that we maintain a strong and viable livestock industry. The livestock accounts for over 50 percent of the entire agricultural economy in the United States.
We wanted to make sure that the animal feeding operators had some idea as to what was going to be expected of them, so we established national goals. We also established a national performance expectation as to how those people could reach that goal. And the final thing, and there's actually a few more guiding principles in the document, but the final one I'm going to show on the slide here today is in regard to coordination. We want to make sure that there's good coordination not only at the federal level between EPA and USDA, but also at the state level, at the tribal level, at the local level, and we want to make sure that all people are working together to accomplish the same thing.
We're only going to be wasting energy and resources if we are butting heads with each other. We want make sure that we're coordinated and working together to reach the same goal.
So we have been here now, and I think animal feeding operations has been mentioned, but I will take just a few minutes to say that what we're talking about here is a smaller segment of the livestock industry. We're not talking about the entire livestock industry. What we're dealing with here are the places where animals are kept and confined, such as hog houses, poultry houses, feed lots, things like that. We're not talking about cattle that are out in rangeland, that are grazing on pastures, so it is a smaller segment and actually the regulatory definition for animal feeding operation that has some time frames listed in it.
What we found in the 1992 ag census was that there was about 450,000 of these around the country. Unfortunately, 1992 was six years ago, and what we've seen now in talking with the industry is that there's actually fewer animal feeding operations, but the ones that are there are larger, so there have been consolidation trends over the last six years, and I'm sure we'll see that when the next ag census comes out.
MR. LAPE: Just as a reminder, those of you who may have a copy of the strategy, there's a section number up at the title and we're basically walking through the strategy if you want to follow along.
Peter mentioned that this strategy is one of over a hundred actions that are laid out in the President's Clean Water Action Plan. We recognize that there are a lot of other sources of water pollution, things like combined sewer overflows, runoff from cities, runoff from our towns. Those are other pollution sources that we're dealing with. This strategy focuses on water quality and public health impacts dealing with animal feeding operations, the kinds of impacts that occur if the animal manure is not effectively managed.
The kinds of problems that we are focusing on are overenrichment of things like nitrogen and phosphorus, nutrients getting into the streams and causing too many plants to growth. Pathogen problems. We were up in Seattle yesterday at one of these listening sessions, and the dairy folks up there acknowledged that some dairies had caused some pathogen contamination in the water which caused shellfish beds to be closed. That's a significant concern.
Down in southern California last week we heard about concerns about contamination of drinking water, so these are the kinds of concerns that we're trying to deal with in this strategy. We also recognize that there's a need to have a better understanding of things like air transport of nutrients, and we will talk about some research priorities and we need to gather a little better information on some of these things.
Things like odor and siting, those are important issues, and we largely suggest that those are issues that may be best dealt with at the local and state level. So the emphasis of this strategy is principally on water quality and related public health impacts.
MR. DEL VECCHIO: In Section 3 of the strategy, as I said in our guiding principles, we wanted to establish a goal and performance expectation. That's what we've done in Section 3. We want to effectuate change and the only way we can do that is for people to take action. We feel that the goal of the strategy is for these animal feeding operation owners and operators to take action to minimize the amount of pollutants that leave their operations.
So how do we feel that they can do that? We feel they can do that through a national performance expectation, and that performance expectation is the development and implementation of a comprehensive nutrient management plan.
Now, the comprehensive nutrient management plan needs to be developed on a site-specific basis, as the Senator mentioned, and also needs to be technically sound and economically feasible.
Now, some people will say, "Well, how does a comprehensive nutrient management plan differ or vary from a regular nutrient management plan or from a waste utilization plan or some of the other conservation plans that may already exist on agricultural enterprises?"
Well, we had a little trouble in development of the strategy, trying to decide what to call this, so we called it a comprehensive nutrient management plan, but then we said we're going to explain exactly what that is in the strategy.
So what we've done is we've established some components that, if based on the site-specific planning are necessary, they will be part of the comprehensive nutrient management plan. And even though we call it a nutrient management plan, as Jeff mentioned and as other people may have mentioned, pathogens are also a concern, especially in some of the dairy states. So hopefully the actions that are taken as part of a comprehensive nutrient management plan will also have an impact on pathogens.
So what we want to do is look at nutrients as they go through the cycle on the farm, from where they come from to where they go. So where they start is a lot of the nutrients come onto the farm in the form of feed. So we want to take a look at any possible options where operators can take a look at their feed management and say, "Is there any way we can feed our animals that will reduce the amount of nutrients that's in the manure?" Now, sometimes it is going to be possible, sometimes it's not, depending on the sector of the industry you're talking about.
There's been a lot of discussion in regard to low phosphorus corn and enzymes such as phytase, but let's just take a look at that and see whether or not that can be modified.
Of course, now, after the feed goes through the animal, the next thing we have to deal with is the manure that's produced. So we have a section or a component of the comprehensive nutrient management plan that deals with manure handling and storage. We want to make sure this is done in an environmentally responsible manner.
The next part of it is whether or not the manure is applied to the land or not and making sure that's done in accordance with a plan and in accordance with agronomic rates in an environmentally responsible manner.
Now, if we're going to apply manure to the land or any other type of nutrient to the land, we want to make sure the land is protected, so we look at land conservation practices, the kinds of practices that NRCS has been developing for the past 65 years: Erosion control, water control, buffering streams. Those types of land conservation practices should be part of a comprehensive nutrient management plan.
Now, recordkeeping is also an important part of a plan. To develop a plan and ask people to do implementation, you need to keep records as to just exactly what's happening. I think at most listening sessions I've said that an old saying in our agency has been if it's not documented, it's not done. So we want people to write down whether or not they followed the plan properly, where the manure--how much manure has been produced and where it has been ultimately dispensed.
The final thing is that we realize that some nutrient comprehensive management plans are going to result in the fact that there is just more animal manure produced on the farm than the operator has land on which to appropriately spread it.
So what we need to do is look at other ways to utilize that manure, and some of those options that we highlight in the plan--and hopefully we will get more feedback from other people in these listening sessions--is to do things like composting the manure, brokering manure to grain farmers, to crop farmers that don't have access to this valuable nutrient and organic matter, treating manure, using manure to produce energy. So we have a number of options in the plan, but we want to hear back from you about more options for utilization of excess manure.
MR. LAPE: Glenda alluded to a range of programs that both USDA and EPA have, and the states, to help foster good management practices.
We felt it was important in this strategy to lay out a clear framework for how we expect to use our programs to support animal feeding operations and their development and implementation for comprehensive nutrient management plans. We want to provide a clear, strategic idea of what we had in mind, and it was based on the principle that farmers are good stewards of the land, and therefore we envision in this strategy that the vast majority of animal feeding operations will develop and implement these nutrient management plans through the support of voluntary programs.
There is a regulatory program as well, primarily the one under the Clean Water Act. We do suggest that there is an appropriate and strategic use for the regulatory program. Here in this part of the strategy we simply lay out the framework. We'll talk about what we envision as the priorities of how to use that regulatory program in a moment. But that would basically be used for a small percentage of the operation.
MR. DEL VECCHIO: As Jeff mentioned, this section of the strategy deals with the relationship between the voluntary and regulatory programs, so in order to really understand the relationship, we need to explain what each of those are, so I'm going to spend a little while telling you about the voluntary programs, and as Jeff just mentioned and I have to reiterate, voluntary programs really are based on farm stewardship ethics, the ethic that agriculture needs to be sustainable, that we pass the land on to our children, we don't inherit it from our forefathers.
So anyway, what is important about this in regard to voluntary programs and what are some of the components of the voluntary programs? I think since the 1996 Farm Bill, locally-led conservation has been one of the key items in voluntary programs. What we found is that people want to have decisions in regard to their resources at the local level. No one knows resource concerns any better than the people that are on the land, that are in the communities around the agricultural areas.
So what we've found in the delivery of federal voluntary programs is that we like to have people meet at the local level through local working groups--soil and water conservation districts in lots of states chair these groups--and make decisions and set priorities in regard to what their resource concerns are at the local level. Usually that's passed along to a group called the state technical committee. As a matter of fact, I think Iowa's state technical committee met this morning, right?
And priorities are established at that level for where funding will be disbursed within the State. So we really feel that locally-led conservation is a crucial part of any voluntary program, including any programs that deal with animal feeding operations.
Now, next, environmental education. Stan represents Iowa State University. One of their key roles is environmental education, as in all the extension systems around the country. We find out that sometimes people just don't understand the proper way of doing things and the right way of doing things and they just need to be taught a little bit. So environmental education is a key component of a voluntary conservation program. But we also find that--and again, as the Senator mentioned, the farm economy is not really good right now, especially in regard to hogs--but we find that some technical and financial assistance, especially in a voluntary program, is key to give people that incentive to participate in programs, where they can get some consulting, they can get some engineering done, and also get some cost- sharing to help pay for any changes that may need to be done in the operation.
But I have to emphasize here on this slide in regard to voluntary programs, although we are going to encourage in this strategy all animal feeding operations to have comprehensive nutrient management plans, those that are not regulated, those that are participating voluntarily, are going to be strongly encouraged but not required to have comprehensive nutrient management plans.
MR. LAPE: There is a regulatory program that exists, and I'd just like to quickly review what that is and talk about priorities in a moment as to how we propose to use the regulatory program to address certain animal feeding operations.
Back in 1972, Congress passed the Clean Water Act, and one of the provisions basically said any point source discharge of pollutants must have a permit. And within the definition in 1972 of a point source, Congress included the term concentrated animal feeding operations.
In 1974, and in 1976, EPA passed regulations that basically specified the performance expectation for those feedlots covered under the effluent guideline, and there were regulations that specified what facilities constituted a CAFO. So for example, those of you who happen to know a little bit about those regulations, those facilities with more than a thousand animal units are required to have a permit.
But let's be clear. A number of things have happened since 1972. There have been a lot of changes in the nature of animal agriculture. There's been a lot of consolidation. Practices have changed and, frankly, the regulations that we wrote 25 years ago have not kept pace completely with the changes that have occurred over time. So we recognize there may be a need to relook at those existing regulatory programs, but at the present time, that structure does exist. Forty-three states throughout the country have authorization to run this Clean Water Act permitting program and have a key role in implementing the program.
I'll talk about our priorities, how we propose to use regulatory incentives in a few moments.
MR. DEL VECCHIO: In Section 4.3, we felt that a critical part of this strategy had to do with the land application of manure. We felt that a lot of people would feel that this was a really big issue in regard to whether or not land application is a point source or a non-point source. So basically what we've done is we established the entire section that deals with land application.
And it really gets down to basics, folks. I mean there's a right way of doing things and there's a wrong way of doing things, and what we've said in the strategy is that the proper way of applying to land is in accordance with the comprehensive nutrient management plan. That's the right way of doing things. It is the best utilization of the manure, it's good for the soil, it's good for the crops that are growing on that soil, and as a matter of fact, if it is done properly and in accordance with the comprehensive nutrient management plan, it actually has an impact on some regulatory issues, and that's the fact that a person would qualify for the agricultural storm water exemption.
Now, if there's a right way of doing things, there's a wrong way of doing things. People that apply manure in excess of the required agronomic amounts, in excess of a comprehensive nutrient management plan, are really just using the land to dispose of manure and probably would not qualify for the agricultural storm water exemption.
MR. LAPE: I mentioned early on in Section 4 that we talked about, the vast majority of operations to develop comprehensive nutrient management plans are voluntary ones. At the same time in Section 4.4 of the strategy we talk about how we propose to use the existing regulatory programs, and we identify three priorities where we think permitting of CAFOs is appropriate. One, is significant operations, those which generate significant amounts of manure simply because of the sheer magnitude of manure, the importance of managing that properly. We think that's an important critical element to permitting.
That corresponds also to the existing regulatory definition of a thousand animal units or greater need to have a permit.
We also recognize that there are facilities with less than a thousand animal units that today may have unacceptable conditions that are causing routine and ongoing discharges in the water. Those we have proposed should be a priority for permitting.
The third category is where a single facility or a group of facilities together are causing water quality impacts. So we believe it's in the State's interests to identify those facilities, even smaller operations that may be significant contributors of water pollution, causing real problems in a watershed, to bring all of those facilities within the permitting program.
We think also that's a way to help foster watershed-based decisions. That may be a good way also of promoting other management utilization options where they are needed, where there may simply be too much manure for the available land.
Joe talked about comprehensive nutrient management plans being developed in the voluntary program. For those facilities required to have a permit, we are suggesting that a comprehensive nutrient management plan would be a requirement of the Clean Water Act permits, that the permit would very clearly lay out the elements of a nutrient management plan, when it would have to be developed and how it would have to be implemented. We believe that those plans would be developed in accordance with NRCS guidelines, and for the vast majority of cases that's going to achieve our water quality goals.
Another principle that you'll see in this strategy to help ensure the consistent quality of these plans is that we think they should all be developed by a certified party.
Another major component is who has the responsibility for developing the comprehensive nutrient management plan under a permit. It is the responsibility of the CAFO owner or operator, regardless of whether they might get assistance, financial or technical, from NRCS, extension service, Iowa State, or some other entity.
MR. DEL VECCHIO: Now, before we leave this slide, I just want to mention a couple of things. This is still in the relationship section between voluntary and regulatory, and although Jeff is referring to now the comprehensive nutrient management plans for the regulatory program, he has mentioned that NRCS standards would be adopted by EPA as their standards. I just want to make sure it is clear that once the regulatory authority adopts NRCS' standards, then they become the regulatory standards.
What we're dealing with here is kind of a firewall issue that the secretary of agriculture actually mentioned at Senator Harkin's summit in May--as a matter of fact, Glenda mentioned it this morning too-- Maintaining a firewall between the regulatory programs and voluntary programs. So what's happening here is that once they are adopted by the regulatory authority, they become their standards.
Now the other thing I want to mention too is that, in fact, USDA people may be involved in the development of plans for regulated animal feeding operations, for CAFOs. As the slide here says, it is the ultimate responsibility of the owner and operator to have that plan developed. They may work with USDA to have the plan developed. The plan will be delivered to the owner and operator just as we have done for the past 65 years. USDA will not be developing a plan and providing it to a regulatory authority directly. We will work with the owner/operator, develop that site-specific plan that is needed out there, and then that owner/operator has the responsibility of delivering the plan to the regulatory authority.
Now, we felt that we needed to provide some incentives in the strategy to get people to take action to develop comprehensive nutrient management plans since that's our performance expectation. So we have two incentives that we've built in, one for the people that are currently in the regulated arena, and one for people that are still unregulated.
So what we've done is we've established an incentive for people to exit the regulatory program. What we've said is that if a CAFO develops a comprehensive nutrient management plan as part of their permit, implements that comprehensive nutrient management plan for the term of the permit, meets all the other permit requirements, and no longer has a discharge that would require them to have a permit, they are going to be allowed to exit the regulatory program. That's a suggestion that we have in the strategy.
Now, on the unregulated side, what we've tried to do is establish an incentive for those AFOs that aren't regulated, that can take early and voluntary action to develop a comprehensive nutrient management plan. By doing that, they are going to have an opportunity to basically get a one-time opportunity to have a mistake. Let's call it, well, let's say Murphy's law has been in place on that day, and I apologize to anybody whose name is Murphy here.
VOICE: You keep seeing this Murphy sign up here?
MR. DEL VECCHIO: Okay. Murphy.
Anyway, Murphy's law happens and somebody, you know, opens the wrong valve or something happens that creates a discharge. But actually in good faith those people have been implementing their comprehensive nutrient management plan, so this good-faith incentive that we're talking about here gives that person a one-time chance to fix the problem, make sure it never happens again. If it happens again, they are going to be in the regulatory program. But this gives people a chance. If they are in good faith doing this, give them a break.
MR. LAPE: This is an important part of the strategy that we'd like your comments on. As we said early on, our goal is to keep this a voluntary focus, so we're looking for ways to provide incentive for people to do it in the voluntary program, where that's appropriate, so if you have other ideas, we are very interested.
In Section 5 of the strategy we lay out seven strategic issues. These are the big themes, the big issues that we see that we need to deal with as we move forward. Just a brief comment on the way we structure each of these issues. For each issue we provide a brief discussion. What is the issue?
Second, we try to lay out where we think we want to go, the desired outcomes. And then third, we lay out the action that we think EPA, USDA, our state, local, and other partners need to take to actually achieve those outcomes.
So as you look at these issues, think about questions like, are these the key issues? Are the outcomes that we've laid out under each issue where we want to get to? And are they the right actions that will get us there? So what Joe and I are going to do is quickly go through each of these strategic issues and give you a flavor of what we're striving for.
The first one deals with building capacity for comprehensive nutrient management plans. We recognize the three to four hundred thousand animal feeding operations will probably need to either upgrade their existing plan or develop one from scratch. We need to ensure that the basic capacity, the financial and technical assistance, training, and education is available both from the public and the private sector.
We talk about a certification program is a key vehicle and tool for helping you ensure that the plans that are developed are sound, economically feasible, and will achieve their goals. So we want to figure out how we get more certified specialists available. We want to achieve consistent quality so up front the plans achieve their objectives and we don't get into a process of going back and forth reviewing, no, I don't think you've addressed everything, send it back and forth. That's not effective.
One of our performance objectives that we've laid out is that all nutrient management plans be developed by a certified specialist to help us think through: How do we build that capacity?
MR. DEL VECCHIO: Our next strategic issue deals with accelerating the voluntary program. Seeing as how the vast majority of animal feeding operations are going to be addressed through the voluntary program, right now it is barely adequate, so we need to find out ways of accelerating that.
We've outlined a number of ways in the strategy. As I mentioned, the strategy is a road map to get from point A to point B sometime in the future. So what we've done is we've chosen a ten-year period to work with all animal feeding operations--all animal feeding operations--to develop and begin implementation of comprehensive nutrient management plans.
So that's one way we feel that we will accelerate. In order to help us do that, we need some other things within the strategy of the strategic issue to help accelerate that. We want to make sure that we get the maximum environmental benefit for the amount of dollars that are expended in the implementation of these comprehensive nutrient management plans. We want to make sure all the voluntary programs are available to all constituents on an equal basis, so we want to make sure there is equal opportunity to participate in voluntary programs.
We want to make sure that the national standards, both NRCS and others, are adequate and that we provide good guidance for the public and private sector people that are going to be developing comprehensive nutrient management plans the appropriate guidance for what our national goals are.
Finally we want to look at some additional options for extra financial and technical assistance. So again, if we're going to accelerate something, we need to have some additional resources in order to accelerate those things.
MR. LAPE: The third strategic issue deals with better implementing the regulatory program. In the near term we lay out actions where EPA and the states work closely to get permits issued beginning in 1999. Largely relying on the concept of the general permit, we get lots of facilities included within those three categories of priorities that I talked about, the big facilities, those with unacceptable conditions, and those facilities or watersheds that need to be in a regulatory program because of real problems.
We recognize among the actions we need to provide states with better guidance on how to permit CAFOs. We want to work with states, both the environmental agency and the ag agency, to make sure that the priorities we're setting for developing plans match the expectations. We don't want the ag agency going off and saying, "Okay, you group, you're our priority for developing plans," and have the environmental agency coming over here and saying "You're our priority for permitting." We want to make sure that those priorities mesh.
So there's a clear emphasis on better implementing, getting people under permits that need to be under permits today. In the longer term this section of the strategy deals with what do we do with the existing regs. Early on I said they're 25 years old. Some of the technologies referenced in those regs are out of date. We are basically saying we think we ought to start the process of relooking at those regs, here's the timetable, here are the things that we think should be on the table.
Another last major element of improving the regulatory program is a greater compliance assistance and enforcement presence. Where people are in violation of existing permits and existing requirements under the regulatory program, we need to step up compliance and enforcement where that's appropriate.
MR. DEL VECCHIO: Stan, we promise we will be done in just about five more minutes.
Our next strategic issue deals with coordination. I talked earlier about one of our guiding principles, coordinating at the federal level, the state, tribal, and local levels. We also need to coordinate certain aspects in regards to animal feeding operations, and especially research and technology and technical innovation, assistance with compliance, and technology transfers.
What we've done here is within the strategic issue we've outlined some possible ways in which we can do that basically by establishing some groups, but more or less in the computer age, what we've talked about is we call it a virtual center, essentially a web site or computer database that has a good listing of all the research that's going on, all the new technologies that are available, so not only can research people or government people access this web site, but operators themselves can access the web site to see what's going on in other parts of the country.
MR. LAPE: As Glenda said upfront, the Federal Government is not going to do this alone. The livestock industry as a whole has to play a key leadership role. When you look at this section of the strategy, you'll see our ideas for how to promote industry leadership.
MR. DEL VECCHIO: Our next section is on data coordination. Jeff shortened that one up quite a bit.
Data coordination is an important issue. As you know, conservation districts and the SCS or NRCS have been working with farmers for 65 years. Most of the data that farmers have given to us has been given to districts or to NRCS in a confidential manner, and luckily, the administrator of EPA recognizes the importance of a trust relationship between USDA and agricultural producers and has assured us that they will not violate that trust relationship. But that was in the past and what we need to do now is look into the future as to how data can be shared between the agencies at the national and state level, so we have agreed in the strategy to develop a joint policy statement on data coordination.
The other thing in regard to data is making sure things are done economically feasibly, so we are going to look at methodologies for cost/benefit analysis so that we're both looking at things in the same manner.
MR. LAPE: The last strategic issue that we've laid out is performance measurement. As we get your comments, develop a final strategy, and begin implementation, we need to have some yardstick measuring our success. We need to measure success not only in programmatic terms but in environmental terms. Are we achieving the outcomes we desire? We are going to need a lot of your input on how that yardstick should be established to measure our collective progress.
And the final section of the strategy is a section we call roles. In here we've listed nine key groups that are crucial to the implementation of the strategy. I think it has already been mentioned by our earlier speakers that no one segment of society is going to implement this strategy alone. It is going to take the joint efforts of all of us combined, so we have listed here nine key roles and how they can be involved in the successful implementation of the strategy.
MR. LAPE: I hope by now everyone has gotten a copy of the strategy either through mailing, web site, or out in back. These web site references should be on some of the materials out at the table. I don't think-- This is probably old information at this point.
MR. DEL VECCHIO: Finally, the strategy is out right now for a 120-day public comment period that ends on January 19, 1999, and there are envelopes available, as has been mentioned earlier, and after all the comments come in, EPA and USDA will get together again, evaluate the comments, incorporate the appropriate comments into the strategy, and produce a final document in the spring of 1999.
Stan, that's it.
DR. JOHNSON: Okay. Thank you.
DR. JOHNSON: Now we come to the part of the program where those of you who are here to make statements will make statements. I thought that I would tell you that there are over 130 people registered to listen and there are 62 that's in addition to the 130 here to make statements. So we have about 250 people here and I think that speaks well for the interest of this issue in Iowa.
I am going to take some license and suggest that we take one minute and everybody stand up and stretch for a little bit if you want to. (Pause.)
DR. JOHNSON: Please take your seats and we'll get started.
What I'll do is call three names, and I would ask the three people to come up here and stand or work your way up here so that we won't waste a lot of time between speakers, and after the three, I'll call a name and you can come up and join the two.
I have one point to emphasize. We're going to try hard to accommodate all of those who wish to have something to say, and that means that nobody can take the stage for too long a time. We are asking you to hold your comments to three minutes, to focus on the issue. We have a little gadget over here that after you've spoken for two minutes, the light will come on, and after you've spoken for three minutes, the red light will come on, and if you keep talking, I'm going to come up here close to you and see if I can't talk you into going and sitting down.
I just wanted to tell you that we had a little meeting about how this was going to be organized today and it was at 7:30 this morning and I'm not too fast at that time of day, so on my way home I started to think about who it is that is going to be keeping people talking to three minutes, and then I realized it was me. Now, I bulked up really as much as I could last week on turkey and everything, but I would sure appreciate it if you would keep to the three minutes.
So the first three speakers will be Alisha Hudson, Karen Hudson and Deanna Bells. So first, Alisha.
By the way, these folks are from Illinois. We're polite people in Iowa. We always like to have our guests speak first, so in keeping with that, we'll have the Illinois people speak.
SENATOR HARKIN: Stay the weekend and spend money.
VOICE: We already have.
MS. HUDSON: Hello. My name is Alisha Hudson. I'm a student and citizen of Illinois and a member of Families Against Rural Messes.
Instead of participating in my high school advanced chemistry and calculus classes today to maintain my A average, I drove four hours to testify today.
The hog lot issue is becoming a dangerous one in our state. Our family has received threats, vandalism of private property, and hog waste dumped on my porch. Three weeks ago a gun shot was fired in my direction as I walked through my yard. There have been very many death threats in our state. However, we continue to bring forth science-based information to strengthen our Illinois law as well as to tighten federal regulations to protect our citizens and environment from the devastating effects of factory farms.
In my community, the largest dairy in the Midwest is located on an 8.37 acre lagoon 40 feet from surface water. They have been in operation for less than one year and have already had a waste spill. A loophole in the Illinois law did not even require this operator to report this spill. Their operator also plans on utilizing spray field technology on strip-mined ground to get rid of the waste.
My community is located one and three-fourths miles directly downwind from this facility. It is alarmed and concerned about the health impacts of this caveman-mentality method of waste disposal from this factory farm. Factory farms should not have a license to pollute. Spray field technology and lagoons should be phased out. Factory farms should be accountable for the pollution they cause. When corporations own the animals, they should also be responsible for the waste, including dead animals.
All CAFOs should be individual and site- specific permits that allow for public notification before a CAFO locates. A moratorium on new and expanding permits should be instituted in order to address the mountainous backload of unpermitted facilities so they can be assessed and permitted.
Senator Harkin, Mr. Brown and Mr. Glickman, I am excused from school today so that you can utilize our testimony like you said you would. I hope that my four-hour trip was not in vain.
DR. JOHNSON: Larry Ginter.
MS. HUDSON: My name is Karen Hudson, President of Families Against Rural Messes of Illinois.
We as concerned citizens and members of F.A.R.M., or Families Against Rural Messes, implore you to recognize the urgency that is needed to address the rapid expansion of CAFOs nationwide. In Illinois we recognize we are a state of lax laws and least resistance in the so-called race to the bottom with over 188 letters of intent filed for the construction of mega facilities since May of '97. The majority of these units will be utilizing pits to hold the waste.
In Illinois, pits are not regulated. There are no construction standards, no inspections, no public notification, or mandatory reporting of any leaks or spills from a pit. Over 17 months ago, 800,000 gallons of waste was spilled in Illinois and no fines have been handed down. This was our largest waste spill in Illinois' history and it was perpetrated by the brother of our director of agriculture. Investigators are still investigating a possible manually excavated channel that was utilized to discharge the waste.
In Beardstown, Illinois, Senator Harkin, you may remember this photograph from your waste summit.
SENATOR HARKIN: I do. Right across the line.
MS. HUDSON: Yes. Well, that was one of them. We showed this at the waste summit in Washington to Senator Harkin and it's a very compelling photograph. In Beardstown, Illinois, in Cass County, Land 'O Lakes Corporation dug two large lagoons in sandy soil.
During excavation, water was encountered within this lagoon. Now the only safeguard between the public drinking water supply and millions of gallons of raw urine and feces is a PVC liner.
Monticello Pork, a Japanese Corporation, recently skipped over the Wisconsin state line to Illinois to establish two CAFOs in our state also during the past year due to zoning restrictions in Wisconsin. Again, we are a state of least resistance.
We also recommend the EPA to rethink the serious shortchange of social and environmental justice made when you announced a new deal with NPPC last week. This serious mistake must be rectified.
The implementation of air quality monitoring. A recent scientific study proved that H2SO4 hydrogen and sulfide levels could violate some state standards five miles downwind from CAFOs. We ask that air quality monitoring be implemented. They have also found that ammonia standards can violate one and a half miles downwind from a CAFO. That's an area that we feel needs to be addressed.
We demand phasing out of lagoons and spray fields. This technology carries with it increasing health and environmental standards and concerns. Corporations who own the animals should share responsibility for manure and also for dead animals. Site-specific and individual permits should be issued for all new and expanding CAFOs and should include public notification.
A moratorium should be issued immediately until all backlog facilities are permitted. This is of utmost importance. Soil testing should also be implemented and include phosphorus loading as the most limiting nutrient.
We ask that the playing field be level so we can minimize pollution jumping from state to state. We as a group will work with a nationwide coalition to address these concerns until they are corrected.
DR. JOHNSON: Louie Fallesen.
MS. BELLS: Good afternoon. My name is Deanna Bells and today I'm representing the Illinois Stewardship Alliance and Families Against Rural Messes.
Citizens of Illinois are outraged at the lack of response our elected officials have shown to constituents' concerns regarding enormous amounts of pollution from an industry that is clearly unregulated. As we approach the turn of the century, we are seeing history repeat itself. This new industrial era of agriculture mirrors the industrial revolution of the early nineteen hundreds. Then, as now, pollution was rampant and the general public's health took a back seat to corporate profits. Lack of regulation prompted the development of governmental agencies such as the EPA to protect average citizens' rights. So where are these agencies today as we face the next millennium? They are in the back room cutting secret deals with the very perpetrators whom the average citizens need protection from.
This industry is manufacturing meat, much the way Ford manufactures automobiles and Phillip Morris manufactures cigarettes. There are regulations under the Clean Water Act already in place to address the byproducts of manufacturing. It is time to mandate that meat manufacturers follow what was implemented more than 20 years ago.
Citizens all across the country are screaming for help just as we are here today. But our concerns appear to be falling upon deaf ears as is evidenced by Ms. Brown and Secretary Glickman's lack of appearance. It was at their request that citizens participate in the ongoing formulation of the draft strategy. Personally, I feel we've all been led to the proverbial slaughter.
So where do we go from here? Our recommendations are, one, a national moratorium on new and expanding facilities until all backlog facilities are properly permitted with individual and site-specific permits. These permits must include public notification.
Two, a federal policy that levels the playing field and prevents corporations from pollution shopping.
Three, a ban on open manure cesspools and aerial spraying of manure and urine.
And four, large corporations, those that own over a thousand animal units either at a single location or as a cumulative total, must be responsible for paying the cost of waste disposal and cleanup.
This industry has been irresponsible in overproducing, all the while continuing to expand and expecting the Government to once again bail them out at taxpayers' expense. Citizens have a right to demand clean water and fresh air. It is time for our Government officials to again represent the people of this country and not the corporations, and it must be done before 2008.
MR. GINTER: Before I begin, I think it is interesting that I'm seeing bottled water on the tables of the panel.
Also I wonder about all those neighbors out there of the hog factories, whether they are going to have to start buying bottled water.
My name is Larry Ginter and I'm from Rhodes, Iowa, which is in Marshall County. I'm an independent family farm hog producer and raised hogs since 1965. I am speaking today as a member of Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, which is one of eight state-based groups in a national coalition called the Campaign for Family Farms and the Environment.
CCI and the Campaign has been fighting factory farms for over five years. During this time we've seen the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Environmental Protection Agency turn a deaf ear and a blind eye to all the stories of hog factory pollution in the Midwest and other states, including North Carolina. We're watched government officials give tax incentives, low-interest loans, no-interest loans, nuisance suit lawsuit protection, and immunity protection to hog factories. It looks like our state and federal governments have never seen a factory they never liked, and based on a proposed USDA and EPA draft strategy and the recent polluter immunity deal struck between the EPA and the National Pork Producers Council, a marriage between Government and the hog factory continues. This has to change.
Hog factories are not efficient. They consume vast amounts of energy, draw millions of gallons of water from underground aquifers, and generate millions of tons of raw sewage that pollutes our land, water, and air. They destroy local communities and drive family farm hog producers like myself out of business.
Moreover, hog factories turn the phrase animal husbandry on its head. They have overproduced, and in some cases now are gassing newborn pigs. What a terrible waste of time, technology, electricity, feed and water. If the USDA and the EPA are to be taken seriously here today, then you need to heed advice of Albert Einstein. He said, "The world will not evolve past the current state of crisis by using the same thinking that created the situation."
In order to inject some new thinking into the debate over factory farms, here are several changes that Iowa CCI and the Campaign for Family Farms and the Environment want you to make in your proposed national strategy.
Firstly, the USDA and EPA plan assumes that factory farms are inevitable and potentially sustainable. It recommends that we subsidize factory farms with taxpayer dollars through cost- share programs and technical assistance. We want to end the unholy marriage between hog factories and the Government. No more tax breaks, tax incentives, low-interest loans, zero percent loans, or cost-share funds or assistance. In other words, take them off the Government dole.
Secondly, the USDA and EPA plan proposes a permitting process for factory farms that is too general and lax and doesn't give local communities enough say over what happens. To use Glenda Humiston's own words, we must have some local control and local input on how these things are supposed to be regulated. So we want local control. That is the power to stop hog factories from being built in our communities.
Thirdly, the USDA and EPA plan fails to put a moratorium on the construction and expansion of factory farms. In order to stop the stupidity of hog factory production and pollution, we need a national moratorium now until all environmental impacts are assessed and proper regulatory measures are adopted.
And fourthly, the USDA-EPA plan fails to put the legal and financial responsibilities of factory farm pollution where it should be, on the corporations that own the animals. Don't shield them from the problems they create. Make hog factory corporations take full responsibility for the pollution they cause.
And in summary, we need a federal policy that protects the environment, our communities and our family farms, not one that turns our countryside into a cesspool of corporate hog waste. And finally, recently NPPC made a deal with the Environmental Protection Agency, and we think this deal stinks.
DR. JOHNSON: Pam Hansen and Roy Overton.
MR. FALLESEN: My name is Louie Fallesen. I'm from Humboldt County. I'm also from the county that has the most ag drainage wells in the state, a very environmentally sensitive area. It so happens to be most of these ag drainage well areas have most of our large hog factories around them too. That's why they elected to locate there.
I am a member of the Humboldt County Regional Chapter for Citizens Community Improvement. I feel the agreement between the EPA and the National Pork Producers Council smells like a federal House File 519. Iowa's House File 519 has done nothing to protect our environment from corporate hog factories. It has only protected polluting corporate hog factories from the people.
We need local control of large livestock facilities in Iowa to protect our environment, people's rights, and independent family farmers. From the EPA we need tough environmental laws and enforceable penalties for corporate hog factories whose only concern is the bottom line, money.
We want action, not just meaningless words and paperwork.
MR. BOURNE: I'm Bob Bourne from Jackson Township in Boone County. I didn't know too much about hogs three months ago until I got 3400 new neighbors who will be moving in here in the next couple weeks so I've spent a lot of time learning about them.
Ten years ago we didn't have a confinement problem. I don't know exactly why. I'm sure other people here will tell you that. When you have a small farm, you have a job in town unless you have 900 or 1,000 acres. And as a small farmer, we worry about things. Like I didn't know the USDA was a voluntary organization. I thought I was supposed to do everything they told me, so I put in terraces, put in CRP, did all that stuff I was supposed to do.
And you know, my neighbors got 20, 30--got cattle across the road, got a hundred hogs down the road, and there is an odor in rural Iowa. You know that. So I went out and visited near some of these places, and Iowa is becoming an open sewer. These 3400--for some reason 3400 is a magic number of hogs, three buildings, and you can't breathe the air, and now I'm going to get to breathe this air every time I step outside on my own farm. And that doesn't seem right.
So I had some prepared notes, but I read this thing over that they handed out up there and there's a couple of comments. One, it says voluntary program on land stewardship. That is not going to work. The guy that is putting this in, he doesn't live there.
He doesn't give a shit about it. He's just making money. He said he borrowed the money at 8 percent for construction and he can make 13 percent on the sale so he's making 5 percent. Same thing he could get for a CD in a bank.
If you want to do something to make this factory farming real, you give them a credit if they live next to their confinement building, and I don't think any of these guys live near their confinement buildings, so there's your incentive. You were asking for voluntary incentives.
The next one is CRP. You encourage it. Make it mandatory. Make it filter strips, the buffer, all that stuff we can get in CRP now. USDA has got the standards for that, they have a cost share on that, but I'd say make it a mandatory 15, 20 percent of the loan. This guy is going to put 1.2 million gallons a year on 300 acres. That's 4,000 gallons per acre. He's going to do it in two or three days in the fall and all we have to do is pray it doesn't rain after that.
You have a soil map. USDA has a soil map of every farm probably in the country. They showed me what my soils were, they showed what those soils are. If you have some broad standard of application, it doesn't apply to that soil. You have to have something specific for that soil, and that should be computerized because computers can do that stuff, figure that out.
The other thing missing here is you have no air pollution standards. This is all water, which of course is good, no doubt about that, because water pollution is important, but I think you need an air pollution standard. The EPA has standards on auto emissions, particulate matter, hydrocarbons, all kinds of stuff. There's a whole list of cities. I go to Chicago and breathe polluted air because they haven't done something on something that's a national standard. Yet the guys that made the presentation here said that the air standard should be a local or a state standard. Why does EPA have an air standard on one and not on the hog pollution? You don't have public health standards-- I'm running out of time.
You need strong penalties for violators, and I think 2008 is way too late. These buildings have a seven- to ten-year life, and in five years-- these guys could all be in Brazil in ten years, which I wouldn't mind, but tighten up the standards. They know they have to do that. Tighten it up. These things are not expensive standards. If it drives them out, then the hell with them.
DR. JOHNSON: Morris Smith and Terry Spence.
MS. HANSEN: Senator Harkin, distinguished panel members, ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon. My name is Pam Hansen and I live in Normal, Illinois. I'm the grass roots organizer for the Illinois Stewardship Alliance, a member of Campaign for Family Farms and the Environment, and a member of the Clean Water Network.
Today I represent dozens of organizations comprised of farmers and rural residents who wished to be here today but simply because of the low price of livestock and the future continuing to look bleak, they did not have the means to travel at this time. Over the course of the past couple of days I've spent countless hours on the phone trying to get their message, and what I have to say today is their message.
While the draft strategy covers a wide spectrum of issues, I will focus my remarks to just a few. This strategy needs to focus on those that need the mandatory regulation and not on the small family farmer and voluntary compliance.
In Madison, Wisconsin, the industry made the assertion that the cost of regulation would put the small family farmer out of business. This in fact may be correct. Small family farmers and taxpayers are being forced to subsidize the blatant disregard for operating environmentally correct under the current deal struck by the EPA and the NPPC. Through tax revenues and check-off dollars, family farm pork producers who have a minimal impact on the environment because of their sustainable size are being doubly penalized. It is the rampant expansion by these animal factories, regardless of the current market conditions, that are forcing prices so low for producers.
Please do not buy into the argument that it is the retailers that are taking more than their fair share of the pork dollars. It is the corporations that are double-dipping by contracting, overproducing, tying up the packers, many of which large-scale pork corporations own all or part of, that gets the lion's share of the pork dollars.
A $40,000 cap on fines will wipe out the average family farmer but it is pocket change for the large corporations who are committing the worst of the offenses.
Instead, EPA should dump the deal with the NPPC.
It is a slap in the face of the family farmer, many of whom who are struggling to travel to sessions like these all over the country to give their opinions, their stories and their concerns, only to learn that EPA has been making back room deals with the livestock factories that are in fact forcing them out of business. The same can be said for the USDA and their back room deals to reward the very corporations that created the lowest prices ever with more than 100 million additional dollars in products purchased in beef and pork.
This draft strategy should instead deal with the biggest and the worst offenders, the CAFOs. A CAFO should be defined not only as 1,000 or more animal units in one location, which would also include accumulative animal units by ownership of the animals. Let's make them pay their fair share of fines and violations.
The additional money raised by assessing the proper fines and the money saved by just concentrating on the CAFOs should then be spent in the research and implementation of sustainable alternatives and production systems.
Long-term financial health of the farming community relies on the success and the future growth of the family farmer. There is no long-term financial stability in factory farms.
The grass roots of Illinois call on the EPA and the USDA to take strong and serious steps to stop the madness of overexpansion. We cannot and will not support a regulatory climate that regulates all producers. We will support regulations that focus on the biggest producers and the corporations seeking to control the food chain and returns farming to the grass roots where it has been sustainable and environmentally sound for centuries.
DR. JOHNSON: Jeri McKinley and Diane Halverson.
MR. OVERTON: My name is Roy Overton. I'm a member of the Izaak Walton League. I'm here representing the Iowa Division and the Des Moines chapter today. Amy Fredregill from our national office is speaker No. 24 and she is going to represent the national office and that opinion.
I wanted to talk primarily about clean water. The Izaak Walton League and the City of Des Moines Chapter started a program back in the early seventies called Volunteer Water Monitoring, Save Our Streams, Adopt One, and we've been doing water monitoring programs throughout the United States for many years. In fact, we received a presidential citation from President Bush a few years ago for a program which I helped start here in Des Moines, Iowa, back in the early seventies for Save our Streams around the nation.
Water monitoring funding in Iowa has been poorly presented to us through our legislature. We need to have much more water funding for the monitoring of the water supplies in this state.
Last year we had $300,000 for water monitoring and none of it was done around any of the CAFOs. And that was in the bill, by the way. So something has got to be done about being able to produce water monitoring programs near these CAFOs.
The other thing is that we don't want to wait eight years to find out what the results of those tests are, and we don't feel that testing around these CAFOs should be held in secrecy. They should be part of the general knowledge of the scientific community and should not be held as secret. So when you were talking today about this combination of the organizations keeping track of the information that was sent to them in secrecy, that's wrong.
I would like to continue seeing more monitoring programs of air and water to see that your plans are working. If you are going to produce this plan, which we feel is absolutely necessary--and we congratulate Senator Harkin for his origination of the Harkin bill which we were behind, and helped him back that.
So we feel that this is absolutely necessary to keep these hog lots from going from one state to another producing their damage from one area to another. But while they're here, we need to keep track of what they're doing here. We don't have a baseline study done anywhere. We do not have good water quality or air quality studies around the areas where these places have been, some of them as long as four and five years ago.
We need to set up a program for that and we would like to see a study of vital statistics be set up on human health effects so that respiratory illnesses, absences from school for children, miscarriages, and fetal malformations, all those things should be evaluated in vital statistics and correlated with the water supplies around these CAFOs. And we do feel a moratorium should be done while we get these baseline studies.
One last thing I want to tell you, that I have a beautiful 15-year-old daughter who is a freshman at Dowling. I was explaining some of these things to her. She is also a lifetime member of the Izaak Walton League. She told me, after I was explaining what I was going to talk about today, she said, "Dad, would you ask them if I could write my own tests at Dowling? And if I do, can I grade my own papers?"
DR. JOHNSON: Leta Torrex and Duane Sand.
MR. SMITH: Distinguished panel, I'm Morris Smith, Iowa NFO president, a farmer from Union County, Iowa. I have always been a Democrat and have supported a supply management type of farm program with prices set high enough to support a family farm type production agriculture. The family farmer who lives on the land and makes a living off the land takes care of the land and supports the community in which he lives. The U.S. farmer has been the envy of the world and has been called upon to feed the world.
There are all kinds of studies that prove that the medium-sized family farm is the most efficient type of production known to man. So why are we trying so hard to change to industrialized agriculture and killing family farms? It is too bad that the family-sized farmer and spouse have to get a job in town to make a living. It used to be that the living could be made from the land.
Competition is supposed to be good for the farmer. He competes with farmers from around the world, Canada, Mexico, China, Brazil, you name it, but now the farmer sells to who? Competition? Forget it. Cargill, Continental, they merged, so there is no competition on the buying side. Where are our antitrust laws?
The family-sized farmers have lived and supported the sustainable type of production agriculture. Industrial-type hog factories are not sustainable and do not support a clean environment. The potential for disaster of contamination of land, air, and water is very great. Don't continue to allow the factory-type agriculture the protection of family farms. They are factories and should be classified as industrials and taxed and regulated as such.
MR. SPENCE: My name is Terry Spence. I'm a family farmer from northern Missouri and I'm also the president of Family Farms for the Future, a local organization in my area. I do know a little bit about the CAFO issue. I'm quite familiar. I've been through a court case or two with them, with our neighbor, Premium Standard Farms, and I also worked on the national feedlot work group, trying to work on the strategy that USDA and EPA have been working on.
I was anticipating a good discussion today with EPA and USDA about the strategy. I'm looking forward to somehow trying to, you know, make it better than what we already have. But right now I feel that I've been insulted by the very agencies that are holding this meeting.
It appears while citizens in good faith and at their own expense on most parts have tried to work on a solution to the national disaster that is plaguing this country, but evidently U.S. EPA and USDA have been a little bit deceitful on their side of the strategy plans.
The deal that was announced last week to let the National Pork Producers conduct their own environmental compliance audit program is an insult. It is an insult to me as a farmer, an insult to the past generations of farmers that I follow, farmers that have been good stewards of the land and the environment. Rural communities have been assaulted by the stench coming from corporate swine producers next door. They have fouled the air, fouled the water, and now the Government that has subsidized them is now going to let them regulate themselves.
Records don't lie. If you got this report yesterday, you can see that. Records don't lie. This country is going to hell in a handbasket, pardon the language.
I'm disappointed and disgusted by the action of the administrator of the U.S. EPA. At the very time we thought the U.S. EPA was going to take responsibilities seriously and respond to the problems outlined and documented in the report issued yesterday, the EPA case ended like a big pig.
Here I am standing before this panel today. I was expecting the Secretary of Agriculture, Dan Glickman, to be here, and the director of U.S. EPA who, after the shady deals, were afraid to appear in public; instead sent you guys to take the heat in the State of Iowa.
It appears that EPA and USDA still don't get it. They still don't understand the takeover by national corporations that are destroying everything I worked for and every farmer in this country. To achieve all for what? Corporate greed is all it amounts to.
We don't need sellouts. We don't need buyouts. We need you people to take the responsibility seriously, protect our water, protect our air, protect our land, and protect our family farmers.
But from everything I've seen lately, all you're doing is protecting the rich at the expense of the poor. You are protecting the environment or you are protecting the industry, so I'm not sure whether it is the Environmental Protection Agency or the Industrial Protection Agency at this point.
I'm going to end up by just a little bit of humor, maybe on my part and not nobody else, but I feel myself as a traditional farmer. A lot of times I go to bed early with the chickens, but mark my words, you won't catch me going to bed with the pigs like I feel the EPA and USDA did.
MR. McKINLEY: I'm Jeri McKinley. I farm in Unionville, Missouri, in Lincoln Township. My wife and I have a 500-acre farm that has been in the family since 1853. We are surrounded on three sides by PSF hog factories which has 85,000 hogs and nine lagoons.
I'm sure that Mr. Glickman will remember his trip to Lincoln Township that cold November day three years ago. The people of our community appreciated him coming and had hopes, after he heard how families suffered living there, living near these hog factories, that you would try to control the factory hog farms, but the only change we have seen is for the lowest hog prices in 30 years, more factory hog farms starting up all over our country, more air and water pollution and more small farmers going broke.
There are two things even more important than the hog price: That is clean air and clean water, which everyone must have if our country is to survive. I do hope and pray that you or someone will do something about the deal that was made between the EPA and the NPPC.
DR. JOHNSON: Lynn McKinley and Leta Torrex.
MS. HALVERSON: I'm Diane Halverson and I'm an advisor to the Animal Welfare Institute where I work with family farmers to help them get premium price in the marketplace for raising hogs humanely and sustainably.
The discussions about the quality of water, air and life in rural communities routinely focuses on the environment outside of large-scale industrial farms. These are critical issues, but we must look at the environment inside the industrial site where all the problems begin, as you might get an idea from these photos.
Inside we find a vile system for raising animals, keeping the sow continuously confined to a crate so tiny she cannot walk or even turn around, warehousing boars in crates, depriving the animals of straw or suitable bedding so that vast quantities of manure can be liquefied. Forcing animals to live perpetually on perforated and concrete and metal floors so that vast quantities of manure will drop into collection pits is not a biologically sound way of raising pigs.
The hostile environment inside the industrial farm leads inevitably to a biologically unsound environment outside the industrial farm. If animals were raised in a healthful way on straw or pasture, dispersed across the countryside on a multitude of modest-sized family farms, we wouldn't be here today.
Routine low-level use of antibiotics in industrial hog farms has helped to remove what the industry calls a barrier to entry for investors seeking to enter hog production on a large scale. In words of the National Research Council, antibiotics has facilitated the trend for confinement housing and a greater concentration of animals in production facilities.
According to the World Health Organization, the excessive use of antimicrobials especially as growth promoters in industrialized hog production is a threat to human health and should be reduced.
Health problems plague industrial farms. Swine Practitioner reports that controlling swine respiratory disease is harder now than ever before as hog units get larger and more intensive. Despite Industrial Ag's claim that new technology would eliminate or control respiratory disease, the new technology has meant new disease problems.
Ag economists are reporting incidences of sow death loss as high as 20 percent; 50 percent of sows having to be sent to slaughter because they can't survive industrial production methods. There is little wonder that the favorite new product featured on the cover of National Hog Farmer this summer was a $1500 remote-controlled cart to remove dead sows and market hogs from swine confinement buildings.
You asked us not to reject this proposal today but you are tinkering with a system that is fundamentally flawed. The industrial farm is a monster. EPA and USDA should stop feeding it.
As an alternative I'm sending some deep straw and pasture-raised systems photos as examples of those.
MS. McKINLEY: Hello. I'm Lynn McKinley. We live next to PSF in Lincoln Township, Putnam County, Missouri. For those of you who don't know what it is like, I'll tell you. You can't plan outdoor get-togethers. You do plan your meals around the odor, though. You don't bake when it stinks in hot weather because you have to keep the windows shut, so you cook when the wind is favorable. If you leave your windows open at night, it wakes you up when it moves in.
When working outside in the odor, it affects your eyes, nose, throat and lungs, maybe one or all. You will probably have a queasy stomach too, and I have a strong stomach.
When it gets worse, there's the worry about the spills. When will it happen? Not if, when. If it's bad enough, it ruins your cows' water, your drinking water, which comes from a spring-fed well next to a creek down the hill from a PSF spreading area.
On the economic side, look at what factories have done to the farmers: 12 1/2 cent hogs. I sold hogs for 12 cents when I was a kid. Now we learn the NPPC is going to inspect the factories. Talk about the fox guarding the chickenhouse. They are to get a fine of only $40,000 a spill instead of $27,000 a day. The lagoons here are full and they can lower them for a mere $40,000. Pretty cheap, huh?
Cheaper than building a three-stage lagoon for each site, anyway.
In our three-county area, PSF owns the pork producers, lock, stock and barrel. So how is the NPPC, same team, going to find any violations? If it did, it would be secret. We would not know if our air, water, land, livestock, and health are threatened, not until it's too late. This is wrong. We were sold out. My check-off money was used to put me out of business as a hog farmer. Now it is used to put other farmers out of business.
Another wrong is the cruel way the hogs are treated in the factory systems. It is wrong to say it is better for pork from the factories. They die when the ventilators go off, they die if not given antibiotics. It is not good for the consumer. The hogs can't stand the stress. They eat each other. Again, it is wrong.
CAFOs are wrong for the general population, their neighbors, the consumers, and last but not least, it's bad for the hogs.
DR. JOHNSON: Tom Matthews and Glenda Stockwell.
MS. TORREX: I am Leta Torrex. I am from Unionville, Missouri. I live on a farm in Lincoln Township. I have owned this farm since 1962. My husband and I built our home here and moved our family in the fall of 1975.
Our farm is located one-half mile from a large hog farm which is a finishing area. They bring small pigs in, fatten them, and then haul them to a slaughterhouse. All this goes by my home.
The waste the hogs produce is a lot to get rid of. They have lagoons, but lagoons fill up. Then they start spreading it on fields. Two of these fields are within 150 feet of our place. They put so much waste on the fields, and with heavy rains it has run into a couple of our ponds. Both ponds are filled with fish that we once sold. The second pond is our source of drinking water.
Our life has changed since the hog farm moved in. First, I have asthma, and the odor is so terrible that it's hard for me to get my breath. I have had to go to a hospital, and the doctor told my husband either you put central air in or she will be in the hospital more. We got central air, we got new windows. Even with all this, the smell of odor comes through.
I have been put on more medication. There have been times that my husband and I have thrown up when we are outside. Second, the odor is so bad that we cannot plan family cookouts like we once did. Third, we do not have a large garden and sell vegetables like we once did. We can't stand to work out in the garden, and who would want to buy our vegetables when this terrible, terrible hog waste is running off of our neighbor's field into our garden.
I think it is time that the people of the United States wake up to the facts of what hog farms are doing, not only to us but others as well. What is it doing to a once clean air, the once pure streams and water? What has it done to small local farms that were trying to raise a few hogs? I think it is time for the people to wake up and see the small farmer or a large farmer, not the big cooperations, are our foundation to our future.
May I say, wake up again. Wake up America and let us again smell fresh air, not hog farms.
MR. SAND: I'm Duane Sand, an environmental consultant from Norwalk, Iowa. I welcome our Washington guests to tropical Des Moines. It is December 4th and 67 degrees outside and substantially hotter in this room.
Without doubt, the Clinton-Gore Administration was right in joining 58 nations in agreeing to cut air pollution that causes global warming. Unfortunately, you have not yet incorporated that commitment into the Unified National Strategy for Animal Feeding Operations.
Methane is one example of the greenhouse gas generated from manure. Pound for pound methane is considered 58 times more damaging than carbon dioxide for trapping heat. The United States produces about 14 percent of global methane emissions from manure and half of our pollution is attributed to livestock lagoons.
Manure in anaerobic lagoons emits ten times more methane than equivalent dry air solid manure. Iowa dairies release only 34 percent of the manure of comparable California dairy production because we have fewer liquid manure systems. Iowa hog farmers release only 27 percent of methane for a comparable North Carolina hog production because they are reliant on lagoons. North Carolina, that is.
Liquid manure systems produce multiple greenhouse gases including carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide and methane. Dr. Susan Shiffman of Duke University Medical Center tells me she has identified close to 400 volatile organic compounds in the air coming from swine lagoons. It is time to admit we know little about the total health and environmental impacts of lagoon systems.
In the absence of sound science, I urge you to let economics and common sense be your guide. Why allow carbon and nitrogen to be dumped in the air when it is needed in the soil to sustain productive cropland? Why needlessly contribute to global warming when global weather disasters so far this year have killed 32,000 people, displaced 300 million people, and caused $89 billion in property damage. This economic loss is the highest loss on record and is greater than the entire loss of the decade of the 1980s.
Why spend $3 billion this year to subsidize crop insurance and make disaster payments to U.S. farmers without also challenging agriculture to phase out practices that needlessly contribute to climate change?
Why allow more livestock lagoons to be built when thousands of farmers are going broke due to overproduction of livestock?
The USDA Commission on Small Farms has clearly stated now is the time to act on behalf of sustainable agriculture. The action we need from you, and we need it now, is to just say no to new lagoons while preparing to phase out existing lagoons, and yes to the national strategy to help prevent global warming.
Thank you for the opportunity to comment.
MR. MATTHEWS: I'm Tom Matthews. I live in West Des Moines, Iowa. I am a city person. I think part of the problem is that not enough city people care about these issues. I think that's something that many of the rural people here need to work on, to get the message to the people in cities like Des Moines and West Des Moines. That's where a lot of folks are.
Section 5.0 in the Draft Unified Strategy contains strategic issues. One strategic issue, though, that was omitted is the question of whether or not the U.S. livestock industry ought to be taken over by large-scale feeding operations.
A couple other notes I jotted down. Before I get to my prepared remarks, a couple other notes I jotted down. Farming is not sustainable if it destroys the land. The issue of sustainability is mentioned throughout the draft.
It was mentioned that farmers are good stewards of the land, but the problem is, animal factories are not farms.
What I'm here to talk about is land, what confined animal feeding operations do to land. At a meeting in 1994 at the State Capitol, the forming of a new organization called the Iowa Environmental Council was being discussed. Various issues were being talked about which the new organization might work on. While we were talking about urban sprawl, which is the wasteful and unnecessary destruction of farmland by scattered urban development, a man spoke up and said, quote, "If you want to do something about urban sprawl, you had better deal with hog lots. They are urban sprawl."
At the time I had only a vague understanding of what he meant. I did not really get it. About four years later, just this past summer, I finally had the opportunity or, more accurately, the misfortune to see an actual large- scale hog lot operation, and now I understand that in terms of destroying farmland, hog lots and other large-scale animal confinements are just as destructive as urban sprawl.
I saw both a lagoon-type facility already in operation and a pit-type facilities under construction. These were along the east side of the county line road between Clark and Union Counties about a half mile north of Highway 34 in southern Iowa near Murray, Iowa.
Huge areas of land have to be cleared for construction of large-scale animal confinements. The topsoil is removed and much of the area is covered with concrete. In the case of a pit storage system, a deep pit is excavated and then lined with concrete, and dozens of concrete support pillars are built in the pit to hold up the floor of the confinement structure that will be constructed above.
After this level of destruction, to restore such a site to farmland would be nearly impossible.
DR. JOHNSON: Sandy Kennedy and Roger Allison.
MS. STOCKWELL: My name is Glenda Stockwell and I am the mother and wife of a full-time farmer from Taylor County, Iowa. I'm not a paid lobbyist. I'm not an attorney here on retainer. I do not work for a government agency. No one is buying my lunch today.
I'm here like many others in this room committing more than four hours of vehicle travel and losing a day's work and a day's pay to talk briefly about something that is very important to me. And if I appear nervous, I am.
You see, Taylor County is one of the poorest counties in the State of Iowa. We have very little industry, few highly-paid jobs. But being poor doesn't mean we are stupid or that we're willing to trade our health, our environment, our homes and those of future generations for the short-term gain to be realized from embracing large-scale confined feeding operations.
Those people have no historical responsibility to our community.
Our county is facing a 400 percent increase in the number of large-scale confined feeding operations. In less than one year's time we will have more hogs in our county than we have people, and much more unregulated manure, and the ownership of those hogs will be concentrated in the hands of a very few outside investors.
We looked to our State Government to see what could be done about these units only to find that since they had chosen to build structures that were 6 percent smaller than the licensing requirements, there are basically no regulations for those folks. Somehow, miraculously having that 6 percent fewer hogs will make these facilities less of a threat to our rural health and environment. To that I must say hogwash.
We need stronger rules and the size limits must be lowered. Our state laws are too weak to protect its citizens. We have facilities that are being built with direct runoff into the Lake of Three Fires' watershed, and another facility is planning to use the land which is adjacent to Sands Timber as a manure dumping site. You may not recognize the names of these recreational facilities but they are near and dear to the people of our county. It is all that we have. They were built with WPA, CCC, federal, state, and county moneys and labor, and yet we are unable to protect them until the damage occurs. The system is backwards.
I've changed here from what I had written, but I think the biggest concern that I've had with your presentation today is your assumption that there will be voluntary compliance with your regulations based upon the historical stewardship- of-the-land belief held by many farmers.
No doubt I grew up like many others hearing the phrase our responsibility is to leave the land better than we found it. Most people who live on and work the land will support this wholeheartedly. Your problem exists when you define farmers.
The Kentucky Attorney General stated that CAFOs located on a small piece of land generally covered with concrete, hauling in all inputs, corn and feed, raising none of its own feed themselves, and then shipping the final product and disposing of their waste resembles a farm no more than an industrial manufacturing plant located on a slab of concrete in the middle of a city. These are not farms. You cannot rely on the voluntary compliance aspect of your plans.
We must have a national moratorium on all construction and expansion of these facilities. That is urgent. It has to be done. There is an urgency in the countryside. If we wait another two years, it may be too late for many areas. Look at North Carolina, or Guymon, Oklahoma, or even closer to home, Wright and Humboldt Counties in Iowa.
Think of the other disasters we've seen. How many of us wish we could turn back the clock and take away the horrors such as Love Canal, Chernobyl, the Union Carbide chemical leak in India or the Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska. Just mentioning those places brings shame to us all. Our lack of considering future generations and our desire for the short-term gain at the risk of our children's health brought us to those places.
Let's not destroy Iowa or any part of what remains in rural America.
MS. KENNEDY: My name is Sandy Kennedy. I'm from rural Bedford, Iowa, in Taylor County.
Siting locations is a major concern because of so much variance in land topography and soil types in Iowa. Most of the time a CAFO planner puts a site close to the road and on top of a hill so he can have easier access to it in all types of weather conditions even though it may not be the best-suited site for it on that parcel of land.
As an example, in southwest Iowa we have a lot of rolling hills and ditches to direct excess surface water away from the area. Through these natural watershed areas, surface water collects and is channeled to ponds, streams, and lakes in the area. A site may be several miles upstream from such a lake and still cause major damage to it simply because it is in that lake's watershed.
Groundwater seeping through the soil also follows specific paths that can be determined by locating underground streams and aquifers, and here again the point of collection or discharge may be several miles from the point of intake.
If we switched from siting to manure application areas, we see we now need to expand research and testing to a much larger scale to cover all of the land listed for possible manure application. Because soil types change so much and are much different within these application areas, each soil type needs to be tested and a different application rate and method may need to be used on it.
We know different soils react differently to absorption and holding capacity. The EPA knows this also as they require precise soil testings before they allow for a septic tank disposal field for our individual homes.
So because of the volume of manure per acre and per year, these facts need to be entered into the planning before the CAFO permit is issued and/or it is built and put into operation.
In short, we deserve and demand stricter laws and enforcements.
DR. JOHNSON: Roger Larson and Becky Thudium.
MR. ALLISON: My name is Roger Allison. I'm a livestock, cattle and hogs and grain farmer from Howard County, Missouri. I'm executive director of the Missouri Rural Crisis Center, a statewide farm and rural organization representing 4,000 families. I am also here today representing the Campaign for Family Farms and the Environment, a coalition of farm organizations in eight states.
I have some prepared text but I had about a 3 1/2 hour drive from Missouri and I'm listening to the markets. Hogs in Missouri were 14 cents a pound, $14 a hundredweight, $35 for a 250 pound hog and, you know, it is outrageous, Senator. It is just outrageous. And then we've got the National Pork Producer Council talking about it's a bottleneck in the slaughtering facilities when the fact of the matter is it is complete over- production by these factory farms, and they are hellbent for election in building more and polluting the countryside in the same way.
And if you could just stop and think about those folks you represent out here in the countryside and close your eyes, I mean you can hear those cries of desperation and hopelessness. We get those phone calls into our office. People, you know, trying to make it on 35-dollar hogs. It is just--it just is, you know, it's just such a travesty that it makes me very angry to think about it. I just wonder how long it's going to take to make Congress represent people and family farmers in this country instead of corporations.
I did attend your summit up there, Senator, with you, and I thought that went really well and I thought that there were four of us activists that really kicked the pants off about 14 other industry folks there, and that we were the only ones that really had common sense as far as I was concerned, and that we really appreciate the time you gave us to do that.
The AFO strategy being promoted today represents just another piece of evidence that the EPA and USDA are being outsmarted, outmaneuvered, outmuscled by big business, big agriculture. This exercise began as a result of the environmental devastation caused by factory farms in 1995 when spills from factory farms dumped millions of gallons of manure into the lakes, rivers, and streams of this nation.
During a three-week period of time in Missouri alone, two corporate hog factories created more environmental degradation in the form of fish kills and dead streams than was created by all of agriculture in the previous ten years. This pollution has increased and gone unabated. Now EPA trots out this masterpiece of voluntary compliance which only blurs the line between the real polluters and the independent family farmers.
This is nonsense. The problem is factory farms. We need a program targeted to ensure that they are toughly regulated under industrial standards, which is exactly what they are, given their propensity to destroy not only the environment but local economies by replacing family farmers who reinvest in their own communities with livestock-producing factories who don't give a damn about rural communities, family farms, or the environment. This AFO strategy assumes that factory farms are inevitable, they are potentially sustainable, and they are virtually the same as family farms.
The reality is that this corporate- controlled factory system is inherently flawed. These livestock factories are industry and create industrial-sized waste, yet they hide behind family farmers to avoid regulations, and from the looks of this AFO strategy, continue to be very successful at it.
Hog factory components say that the regulation of these corporate polluters will hurt the livestock industry. Since 1986, we lost 60 percent of the hog farmers in the United States. It is not regulations that are running hog farmers out of business, it is lack of regulations that allow corporations to control entire sections of agriculture at the expense of family farmers, rural communities and the environment. The corporatization of livestock isn't about profitability of the industry, it is about profitability of a few corporations, it is about corporate greed and control of the market.
I think I'm probably going over my time a little bit, but if I had a little bit more time I'd tell you about all the different studies that show that family farmers are more efficient than these corporations ever thought about being, and I'd go on to tell you that those horror stories released by NRDC and the Clean Water Network yesterday called America's Animal Factories weren't created by the actions of independent family farmers, they were created by the industrial-sized livestock factories who have gone virtually unregulated.
I would close up by saying EPA and USDA must focus on regulating the real polluters, confined animal factories. They must target operations with 1,000 animal units or more, and the corporations who own 1,000 animal units or more on multiple sites. Until this happens, we need a complete moratorium on these factories, and, Senator, we need a new direction in agriculture, and we just about had it right back in 1984, and that we need to, you know, bring that back around again. We need more farmers on the land watching the soil and taking care of people and doing real economic development, instead of a few, and we certainly would support you in that effort.
DR. JOHNSON: Ken Midkiff and Amy Fredregill.
MR. LARSON: My name is Roger Larson. I'm from Bode, Iowa, Humboldt County, and I'm being squeezed out of the hog industry. Why am I being squeezed out of the hog industry? Well, I'm being squeezed out of the hog industry because of lax environmental regulations here in the State of Iowa.
When House File 519 was passed three or four years ago, it was proclaimed to be the greatest environmental bill to come down the pike. Well, we know that's different right now. What House File 519 was meant to be, it was meant to be a corporate takeover bill, a corporate takeover of the animal industry here in the State of Iowa.
If, if we have 50 percent of the hogs raised by independent family farmers, can you think of a better growth industry for corporates? What's the potential for growth for a jewelry store on Main Street? What's the potential for a Coast to Coast store? What's their growth potential? 1 percent? When corporate pork looks at family farmers and independents and sees that 50 percent of the hogs in this country are raised by independents, that is a tremendous growth potential and corporate America knows it.
Like I said, I'm from Humboldt County. We're from a unique area in the State of Iowa. We have limestone that's close to the surface. We also have a lot of hog factories. In that limestone are cracks and crevices that go straight to the aquifer. Fifty years ago, drainage wells were dug to relieve the water drainage problems. In a four-square-mile area west of Humboldt, there's approximately 50,000 hogs right smack dab in the middle of this, and House File 519 does not address this problem.
Now, the current manure management system calls for mixing drinking water with hog manure and spreading it on the ground, sometimes injecting it in the ground. Now, drainage tiles are three feet under the ground, and drainage tiles work. Let me tell you. You get an inch rain, you got water running in the tile, and that tile goes into the creek, and that creek comes down into the rivers and goes to Des Moines.
What happens when you spread millions or thousands of gallons on these tile lines? All manure that's spread on the ground is no more than three feet away from a tile line.
The USDA and the EPA plan recommends that we subsidize factory farms with taxpayer dollars through cost share programs and technical assistance. I contend that if you cause the problem, you pay for the problem. Let's tax these--
What we need is a system of taxation for these industrial hog factories and treat them just as that, industrial hog factories.
Secondly, the USDA and EPA doesn't give local communities enough say over what happens. My home is my castle. Humboldt County is my home, and I don't want my home used as a dumping ground for corporate agribusiness.
USDA-EPA fails to call for a national moratorium on the construction and expansion of hog factories. We have to. That's a given. It just has to be done.
And finally, the USDA-EPA fails to put legal and financial responsibility for factory farm pollution where it should be, on the corporations that owns the animals. There has to be a system of accountability. If the owners of the livestock are not accountable, there is no system of accountability. We've heard a lot about state control. In my opinion, state control is nothing but corporate control, and I hope that federal control will do something more than corporate control.
MS. THUDIUM: I'm a county commissioner from Linn County, Missouri. Linn County is a small county located in North Central Missouri, adjacent to the three-county area that receives special exemptions from our state's corporate farming laws. Right now that area north of my county raises 2.5 billion hogs per year in large confinement operations.
I have listened to the residents of my county ask for standards that will protect the public health from impacts from these huge operations. Some of these people live very close to a 60,000-hog operation just across our county line. The residents in my area want assurances that what has happened to the north will not happen to them. They fear that the situation will get worse.
But who will give them these assurances? We have looked at what the Federal Government has in place to regulate the confined animal feeding operations and saw that there are laws in place, that the laws are not being adequately enforced. The same with our state. The laws are not strong enough and the enforcement is lax. The pressure by industry, by agribusiness, upon state and federal agencies has been so great that these agencies have not been able to do their job.
So the responsibility has fallen upon our county commission and other local governments to try to put ordinances in place that offer some public health protections. So our county did just that, put some health ordinances in place to regulate CAFOs, but no sooner was our ordinance in place when we were sued by individuals backed by the Missouri Pork Producers Association. While a lower court upheld our ordinances, the producers have stated they will appeal.
We are a small, poor county. We cannot continue to defend our public health laws against these legal challenges, so the situation is this: The Federal Government has very little that works. The state Government, our state Government, is not enforcing a weak law, and local governments have limited authority and limited resources.
Ultimately, if all fails, and frequently it has, the responsibility is falling back onto individuals to protect themselves. Is that the way things are supposed to work? We need for the U.S. EPA to establish federal standards which act as a base, a minimum below which no state could go, but we must be given the right to build upon the federal base, to establish local conditions and controls designed to meet specific situations.
We also ask that the Federal Government give financial and technical assistance to state regulatory agencies. We cannot do this alone. You mentioned that when you came. We must work together. Please work with us.
MR. MIDKIFF: Members of the panel, my name is Ken Midkiff. I'm the director of the Missouri Sierra Club. I'm also on the staff of the National Sierra Club CAFO Working Group. I used to be a hog farmer when I was in the FFA. I had 4.8 animal units. That's 12 hogs.
I'm also on the state technical committee for the NRCS in the State of Missouri, and just to further my credentials, we currently have two lawsuits against the U.S. EPA, one on clean water and one on clean air, which is how most things get done with the EPA.
Also I want to take just a brief moment to take exception to what Mr. Grams said about the CAFOs and his region being exemplary. Of the 20 largest CAFOs in the State of Missouri, 19 of them are currently under enforcement actions from our DNR and Attorney General. There were 20, but one of them settled.
The two largest operations, Premium Standard Farms and Continental Grain which you previously heard about, are being sued by local citizens' groups and family farmers for violating clean air, clean water standards. I suspect the same--I know the same cases are available in Kansas and your other states, so I would challenge that statement.
In addition, my organization, Sierra Club, joined by Family Farmers has just filed an administrative appeal against every permit issued to the largest operations in the past year on the basis that the conditions are insufficient to protect the waters of the United States, and we have the documentation to show that.
I also want to emphasize what my friend Roger Allison and others have said. The owners of most large CAFOs are not farmers. Rather, they are members of multi-national corporations. They are members of the board of directors. Mr. Tyson, Mr. Purdue, Mr. Continental Grain, Mr. PSF are not farmers. Please, Mr. Lape, don't refer to these as farmers when you regulate them.
On behalf of the Sierra Club and the Clean Water Network, a number of us have analyzed the AFO strategy and we will be submitting substantive documentation and comments, but I want to address just two of what I see as the glaring problems.
The time lines for implementation are much, much too long. There is nothing in the CAFO issue that has not been covered by the federal Clean Water Act which was passed in 1972. This all should have been taken care of years ago. Waiting until 2003 and or 2008, or whenever, is unacceptable, particularly when it is considered how many more facilities will be built between now and then, and considering that the current facilities will probably be asking for extensions to come into compliance.
There must be a national moratorium on new or expanded facilities until all current facilities receive NPDES permits with site-specific conditions that give real protection of the environment. Don't let any more be built until you can control the current ones.
This will not be a hardship on the pork industry. There are already too many pigs on the market. There is no need to grow more pigs, and there certainly is no need to grow them in the industrial way until appropriate technology is in place.
Gentlemen, the action by the two agencies in the past two weeks have made the AFO strategy process into a charade and a sham. It appears as though once again citizens will have to take the lead where the agencies fear to go. Once again it appears as if the citizens suit provisions of the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act, and State nuisance suits where allowed, will be the instruments by which the renegade corporate swine industry is brought under control. We are prepared to do that.
However, if by some chance your agencies are serious about protecting the rural way of life and protecting our nation's air and water, then you will immediately revoke the deal with the pork producers and get serious about enforcement of our nation's laws.
MS. FREDREGILL: Hello. My name is Amy Fredregill. I am national staff of the Izaak Walton League of America. I work at the Midwest office of the League located in St. Paul, Minnesota.
The League was founded in 1922 by hunters and anglers and we are a national conservation organization with 50,000 members nationwide. We have historically been concerned about fish and wildlife and especially water quality issues.
The League feels that there is no justification for pollution. The League feels that activities should be supported that support natural resources and people. Farmers are to be stewards of the land. Especially when there are sustainable practices available for farmers, there is no justification for water quality pollution from factory farms.
Yesterday I attended an ACO meeting, agriculture committee in Iowa, and first of all I was very concerned because the representation on the committee was highly under-represented by family farm organizations and environmental organizations. I was concerned that an EPA representative there said that EPA strongly feels that most facilities don't need to be regulated.
Well, I do remind you that you are the Environmental Protection Agency, and thanks to you a report by the Senate Agricultural staff, thanks to Senator Harkin, it has been documented that there were 670,000 fish killed in 1996 in Minnesota, Missouri, and Iowa. Last summer in Minnesota we had one fish kill that resulted in 690,000 fish dead from a manure spill.
This will keep going on, and especially if the deal that was reached last week with the pork producers, where they will be able to self-audit themselves, I'm wondering how that program is going to stop these fish kills from occurring.
The League does applaud the agency's efforts to work together to establish a unified plan, but the current strategy is impossibly unrealistic and fails to provide guidelines on how 300,000 AFOs will implement manure management plans in the next ten years.
We recommend the following changes to the strategy:
A sound strategy should impose a moratorium on new or expanding operations until environmental impacts are assessed and adequate regulatory measures are adopted for dealing with these impacts. We are concerned that because of the long time line involved with the permitting process and the lack of a moratorium during this period, to ensure that the backlog of unpermitted facilities is addressed, that water quality and natural resources will continue to be polluted.
The strategy should be revised to require that existing lagoons be phased out and recommend that sustainable practices are recommended as alternatives to factory farms. The strategy should clarify that the standards for CMMPs will include both nitrogen and phosphorus and should address all pollution impacts.
Many existing operations that present a risk to water quality supplies and public health will be allowed to operate under general permits. These operations should instead be required to obtain an individual permit. Allowing many factory farms to operate without individual clean water permits leads to inconsistency among the states, and the growth of an industry in states where permits are not required or are weak. The general permits don't require public notice and hearings that are required by individual permits.
The strategy should require that vertical integrators be legally liable and financially responsible for factory farm pollution especially where multiple operations in a watershed are owned by one company.
In conclusion, I just wanted to point out that many people that are concerned about this issue, including the Izaak Walton League, are mainstream organizations. The Izaak Walton is a mainstream conservation organization. These aren't radical groups that are calling for really anything that novel or outrageous. We would just like our human resources, our natural resources, to be protected. We would like people to act as stewards of the land. We really don't think this is asking for a whole lot, outrageous. It's just pretty basic and simple.
MR. LESS: Good afternoon. My name is John Less and I'm a nutritionist for the bioproducts division of ADM. I'm speaking on behalf of the Amino Acid Education Council. The Amino Acid Education Council is a group of leading manufacturers of amino acids, and our mission is to educate the public on the use of supplemental amino acids. This is a proven technology that will reduce nitrogen excretion in poultry and swine.
First of all, I'd like to commend the USDA and EPA for this process in discussing these regulations and implementing the unified strategy.
Secondly, I'd like to state that we as an association and as a company support livestock industry in the United States. It provides a safe and affordable meat supply and provides many jobs and economical benefits for rural America.
Thirdly, I'd like to express our concern that while some regulations are good for the industry, unrealistic regulations will hamper the animal industry, place excessive costs on the industry, and could ultimately force producers out of business, force them to move to other locations, and move production out of the country. We feel that the U.S. consumer does not want any of these things to happen.
The poultry and swine industries are concerned about the environment and have been working very hard to implement self-regulation and assessment programs. I hope you recognize these efforts and make science-based regulations that will be practical and economically feasible for the producer.
Flexibility in regulations are also important so they can look at modifying current technologies and develop new technologies to address these issues.
We feel that the unified strategy should recognize the efforts of producers who decrease their nitrogen output. The Committee on Animal Nutrition of the Board of Agriculture has stated that feeding animals to minimize excretion of nutrients into the environment is a logical starting point to address pollution concerns from livestock feeding.
There are many proven technologies and feed management techniques that will reduce the excretion of nutrients from animals. Amino acid supplementation is just one of these. The use of amino acids and high-quality proteins and precision formulation can reduce nitrogen excretion by 10 to 20 percent.
I'm happy to say that many swine producers and poultry producers are currently using supplemental amino acids and many of these feed management techniques. We would like to see the unified strategy give incentives to swine and poultry producers who aggressively use management techniques to reduce the excretion of nutrients.
We are concerned that regulations will assume that all animals excrete the same amount of nitrogen, and that producers who use management techniques like amino acid supplementation will be penalized. Other industries and ours are investing time and money to research for various options to address these pollution concerns of the EPA, and we feel that the USDA should also invest money to research for solutions to these issues.
The use of feed management techniques and supplemental amino acids have proven to reduce nitrogen excretion. We feel incentives should be given to producers who utilize technologies to reduce the nitrogen load on the environment.
Thank you very much.
DR. JOHNSON: Our court reporter here says she has to change paper, so we're going to have another one-minute stand-up-and-stretch break.
SENATOR HARKIN: I just wanted to thank all of you very much who came a great distance, and many of you took a lot of time to be here, and I'm sorry I'm already a half-hour late to another meeting I'm supposed to be at.
These are very interesting comments and very pointed. The one thing that I've gotten out of this so far today is that I think we really do have to take a strong look at the agreement that EPA has made with the National Pork Producers Council.
And I say that without prejudging it, and I want you know that. It was my observation or my thought when they entered into that agreement that voluntary compliance is fine. I like voluntary compliance, and I'm looking at the end goal. If in fact we can bring these people into compliance and we clean up the water and clean up the air, I'm not so concerned about the methodology and how you get there. If this helps us get there in a faster way, I'm for it. If it doesn't, I'm against it. That's just basically it.
So when I say that I want to look at it, I'm going to look at whether or not it is really going to accomplish what we want to accomplish, which is cleaning up the environment, protecting our groundwater, protecting our air, and if it's going to do it in a realistic, sound manner. So again, I'm concerned about what I've heard here today and I am going take a much--I guarantee I'm going to take a really long hard look at that agreement to see exactly how it is going to operate. So I appreciate all of you for that testimony.
Again, I'm hopeful that we can get some movement this next year on really moving aggressively on a national program. State programs are fine. Some states have done good jobs, some states haven't, but as you know, this stuff crosses state lines and groundwater doesn't adhere to state boundaries, and I think we need a national approach to this that is definitely site-specific and not one size fits all.
I'm just hopeful we can move ahead on it next year. That's all I've got to say. Thank you very much, all of you, for being here.
DR. JOHNSON: We will continue the statements now, and our next statement will come from Pat Rice.
MR. RICE: Thank you. My name is Pat Rice and I'm representing the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality.
Agriculture is the number one industry in Nebraska. Two-thirds of Nebraska farm income is from the sale of livestock and livestock products. Nebraska ranks second nationally in the value of cattle and calf production, and sixth in hogs.
We in Nebraska take great pride that we have maintained our national leadership role in agriculture and livestock production without encountering a major environmental disaster. That's not just luck. It's planning and common sense. Nebraska farmers and ranchers have a long history of being good stewards. At the same time Nebraska has had regulations in this area since 1971. Those regulations have focused on balance, preserving our natural resources without unduly restricting the expansion of agriculture and livestock production.
Nebraska already has in place many of the elements contained in the unified strategy. Since 1971, every livestock operation, regardless of size, has been required to request an inspection from the Department to determine whether or not a potential exists to pollute either groundwater or surface water.
All Nebraska livestock waste control facilities for greater than 300 animal units must be designed by a registered professional engineer. We inspect all completed livestock operations within 30 days of their completion before an operating permit is granted. We have a bad-actor law which gives us the authority to deny construction permits or revoke operating permits for unsuited or unqualified applicants.
Ninety-five percent of our municipalities use groundwater for their drinking water source. Groundwater monitoring is required if a proposed livestock waste control facility poses even a slight threat to groundwater. All livestock waste must be disposed of properly and a nutrient management plan must be prepared and approved in Nebraska.
Too often the Federal Government feels it has the duty to hand down a one-size-fits-all solution to states. The fact is that one size does not fit all. Such broad solutions often result in unnecessary regulations that force states to spend taxpayer dollars and produce no beneficial results. What works for one state with one kind of soil and water situation may not work for another state. It's that simple.
What the states need from federal agencies is guidelines, not mandates. New federal standards would add another layer of regulatory bureaucracy on an issue that is best handled at the state level. Those of us in state and local governments are in the front lines on this issue. We have a better understanding of what needs to be done in our own states.
We have years of direct hands-on experience in the regulatory arena. As an example, EPA in Region 7 which includes Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri and Kansas, we have a total of 79 state personnel directly involved in the environmental oversight of animal feeding operations. Thirty-two of those were added by our state legislatures in the last year. That compares to only one EPA regional personnel.
The USDA-EPA Unified National Strategy for Animal Feeding Operations will require additional federal authority and place additional regulatory and economic burdens on livestock producers and local, state, and federal governments. It is essential that states be given the latitude to design their own solutions. Our goal must be the establishment of reasonable, appropriate and affordable regulations.
There needs to be a recognition of the steps that individual states have taken to address the eco challenge before endorsing a federally imposed inflexible approach. There must also be a recognition that these problems did not evolve overnight. It is simply not reasonable to believe that we can develop, fund, and implement complex solutions overnight. The challenge is to focus on real long-term solutions based on good science and common sense.
MS. HUMISTON: If I could interrupt for one second. Could we have the door closed so that the remaining speakers can have the courtesy of being heard? I'm having a hard time hearing. Thank you.
MS. FINN: My name is Karen Finn. I'm a small-business woman from Union County, Creston, Iowa. I'm a Western Auto store owner and I don't think I'll see the time in my lifetime that a pig will walk into my store and buy any of my appliances.
I entered this issue when a lady that I had known for a long time, her husband had died. He had been a farmer, had farmed for over--his family had farmed for over a hundred years. She stated that during the winter one of the owners of a hog farm had placed a rubber hose from his lagoon and emptied the waste into the Grand River.
So I talked to a lot of concerned citizens in different states. There's at least 30 states now that are battling this issue.
I learned about air quality from Jimmy Jenson in Minnesota. Now Minnesota has air quality monitoring around the large livestock confinements. I learned about water pollution concerns from Tom Madison of North Carolina. Now North Carolina has a moratorium on new and expanding livestock confinements.
We see our water and our air being polluted. We see the health of our people being traded for short-term development. We see a growing concentration of both the land and the means to agriculture production being placed into the hands of fewer and fewer people. In 1998, the Iowa Legislature and our Governor signed into law HF 681 which allows self-reporting of pollution in exchange for immunity from liability and the sealing of that information from public examination. They also passed HF 2335 giving all types of absentee investor-driven limited liability into these, the ability to raise livestock in direct competition with the small rancher and farmer.
They preempted local control in getting nuisance lawsuit protection in HF 2994. Is it any wonder the American citizen feels estranged from its own Government?
Now, what our elected and appointed officials can do: Place a national moratorium on the construction and expansion of factory livestock farms. A passage of a national law similar to Initiative 300 in Nebraska and Amendment E in the constitution of South Dakota limiting ownership of agricultural corporations. Elimination of secrets. Mandatory price reporting. Producers like anyone else selling a product deserve full information in order to make a sound market-driven business decision.
No secrecy on manure management records. Now you can see the plan but the manure management record you can't see. No secrecy from local citizens. No secrecy when audits are made at the livestock pavilion and when monitoring is done on the water quality. No secrecy. No secrecy. No secrecy.
The entity who owns the livestock has control over the disposition of the livestock is responsible for any environmental damage cleanup. Designate livestock confinements as factories liable to the national, state and local laws for employment, pollution, so forth. Strict water quality monitoring by independent inspectors paid for by us, the citizens, we will do it, not by the very same people who are doing the polluting. Voluntary self-auditing was practiced for 400 years during the industrial age. It was a disaster.
Emphasize every citizen's constitutional right to sue when pollution of his air, water, and devaluation of his property represents a taking.
Seven, partnership between national and state governments allowing county governments to pass more stringent laws. Only individual site-specific permits can guarantee the people's ability to protect their own local communities.
Land grant universities' primary responsibility should be to the small independent farmer, rancher and businessman. The goal of the land grant university should be diversification of our rural economy. Tax incentives and benefits should target the small and independent farmer, rancher and businessman. Appointment of an ombudsman at the federal and state level. The ombudsman's responsibility is to listen to Government and private employees' concerns. I have known Government employees that are so scared to tell publicly what they are concerned about but privately will tell me that they are really worried about what's happening in our state.
One more thing. I know a lady who is located near a hog confinement. She will switch houses with you and your family, NPPC official. How about it?
NPPC, where do you get your members when there's no farmers left? If we're thinking about the citizens' view, why did EPA and NPPC strike a deal? If this pollution is not on your watershed, it is on somebody's watershed. Let's have the solution now.
MR. CRABTREE: My name is John Crabtree. I work for the Center for Rural Affairs in Walthill, Nebraska.
First of all, I just wanted to thank you all for coming here, and I thank Senator Harkin too, I appreciate him coming, but I also thank him for in some ways initiating this process by introducing his legislation. I think it got us all here talking about national standards and the strategy to achieve that.
I do fear, however, that the draft strategy has gone astray. Perhaps that shouldn't come as a surprise to us. Really, for decades, federal policies have helped drive the industrialization of livestock production and hog production in particular.
Our tax structures, local, state, and federal, too often favor large industrial corporate livestock operations and allow them to externalize their costs. And I apologize. I hate that phrase myself. It's like economists say externalize costs when they mean forcing taxpayers to pick up the bill. They say it because it sounds better, but it allows them to externalize their costs.
Research policy. Over the last 25 years or so we have spent untold millions to perfect, quote, perfect hog production in total confinement. What has this type of perfected state of the art technology brought to us? It brought us Ocean View and Magnolia One in North Carolina, two spills together in excess of 50 million gallons of liquid manure spilled into the waters of North Carolina. It brought us hundreds of spills and fish kills in the Midwest, untold degradation of our drinking water, untold in part because a lot of our states like Iowa don't monitor our water well enough.
Once again, these research policies that help to externalize costs, they helped more concentration and brought about serious negative economic, social, and environmental impacts. At the same time, spending on the research needs of family-sized farms has been a pittance.
The livestock market. Senator Harkin was right when he was asked the question or made the point that something must be wrong when prices to hog farmers decrease 70 percent, retail prices remain the same. We should also ask why some large industrial hog operations continue to expand despite the worst hog market in 30 years.
Clearly these corporations are getting a lot more for their hogs than $15 a hundredweight. I listened to GIPSA brief us about their investigation yesterday. It was an abysmal performance. GIPSA has got to step up to the plate. Packers and Stockyards Administration has got to enforce the law. We can't allow this to happen.
Lastly, the strategy. USDA and EPA must not make the same mistakes as GIPSA is making, as we're making in our tax structure, as we're making in research policy at ARS.
Number one, we must focus first on the regulatory program. There is no clear identification of priorities in this strategy. Focusing on the regulatory program must be a first priority. The problems we face were created by vertical integrators and large-scale producers. We need to make them get their house in order first.
By the way, secrecy and limited fines is not a way to solve the problem. EPA should dump the NPPC deal.
The remaining objectives: Don't subsidize vertical integration, Target technical assistance, cost sharing and family-sized farms. Don't coordinate research. It only benefits industrial operations. They can pay for their own research. Family farmers have research needs too.
Don't spend our tax dollars assisting large-scale producers with their compliance. They can get their own compliance. And don't spend it transferring technology to them either. That's not where it is needed. They can afford their own technology transfer. We need to target family- sized farms.
Last statement. Only family farms can raise hogs in harmony with society and the environment. If we stop subsidizing corporate hog operations and make them actually compete based on cost of production, not only will family farmers survive, they will thrive. EPA and USDA has a choice. You can be a part of the problem or part of the solution, and I implore you to be part of the solution.
MR. MAST: I'm Gary Mast. I'm from Ohio. I'm representing the National Association of Conservation Districts.
Most of what I've heard today deals with large corporate factory farms. There's a lot more to this animal feeding operation strategy than just the large farms. There's those medium-sized family farms that we have to address those issues also.
The National Association of Conservation Districts appreciates the opportunity to comment on the Draft Unified National Strategy for Animal Feeding Operations. NACD commends the U.S. Department of Agriculture and EPA for developing the AFO strategy, providing a national vision for guiding a very complex region.
More than 50 years, 3,000 conservation districts across the nation began working with agriculture as a whole and specifically the livestock industry to help them solve their environmental problems. I might also say that certainly with family farms also.
The AFO strategy establishes the appropriate national performance goals of a voluntary program. For most AFOs, we believe smaller livestock feeding operations can be handled through locally-led voluntary initiatives if provided with sufficient technical and cost share assistance. The local districts in NRCS across the nation can provide the leadership on AFOs to protect our lakes, rivers and streams.
WIN districts are the locals. We know the local problems and can help farmers solve them. But a driving force will be incentives to local people in dollars to provide the technical assistance through NRCS districts and our other partners.
The American public needs to help pay the cost. We're all in this together. We all need food. I was pleased when one of our top leaders expressed that it needs to be us, not we versus they.
I would like to quote our vice-president, Mr. Al Gore, in his speech he recently gave to the Third Farm Journal Forum in Washington, D.C., on December 1, 1998. He said, "My earliest lessons about the environment were about the prevention of soil erosion on our own family farm. What I learned then I believe now. We should not have an either/or, us versus them mentality when it comes to agriculture and the environment. We need both, and we need sustainable natural resource policies, incentive-based conservation efforts, and cutting- edge research to make sustainability a real possibility for the farm in the future."
As Mr. Gore says, we need incentive based conservation efforts and we all need to work together more diligently as partners concerned with the environment. Four days ago at the Farm Journal Forum I also heard Mr. Glickman say there are no enemies, even though we may disagree. I very much believe that the only way we will solve our natural resource problems, is to get all concerned partners involved and committed.
Finally, we need programs like EQIP to be fully funded and with more dollars. NRCS districts and EPA have a large task ahead of us. We need more than just mandates. We need dollars and support for those family farms to solve the nation's environmental problems for agriculture.
Thank you very much.
DR. JOHNSON: John Jensen and Mark Besse.
MS. STOUT: Hi. I'm Pat Stout and this is going to lighten the air quite a bit.
I have a horse farm and I do foster care for lock-up children that have been locked up in the system for years and years with no place to go. My kids are now, because of four large hog confinements, locked up again, and that they dumped thousands and thousands of gallons of manure 30 feet from my mailbox where my children catch the bus.
They are not my biological children. I care deeply about these children and they've come a long way, and I think that two of them actually got sick and got bronchitis, one of them did. The other one ended up with a cough and they said it was just a cough.
Now, I'm thinking to myself, I'm not real educated on this and I'm pretty new at these hog confinements and the stench, but I do know how it has affected our lives. Our clothes reek, our cars reek. We bought a new car. We turned it on. Through the exhaust, stench, pig stench. It's terrible. You can't open your windows. You can't eat.
The depression is unbelievable what you're dealing with day-to-day and trying to block it out of your mind that somebody took your tax-paying rights away from you and gave them a tax break. And I think that the frustration of the matter is give, give, give to these people who are destroying my quality of life, my neighbors' quality of life, and the people who have tried to sell the property for seven years and can't get it sold because no one will buy next to a hog confinement.
I have a beautiful place that was appraised at $250,000. I have dropped to $165,000. Have dropped $100,000 off my property to sell it and can't get a person to get out of their car.
And so everything that I have worked for all my life is destroyed, because my biological son and grandchildren have moved away to Daytona, where I am from, and I would like to go to them and can't because I've been stuck there two years because of these hog confinements, so I'm at a-- Why would you go out and buy a CD for somebody else to come by and tear it up?
Everything that you worked for all your life is destroyed, and these people say, "Well, we're a family farm." They keep their pigs under 680 per unit, where they don't go over that thousand, where they don't have to regulate anything and there's so many loopholes. When they spread the pig manure, it was all down the gravel road within a foot from where my kids stood.
And we talk about what's important in this country. It's our children and their future. If you guys don't do something to help these kids, nobody else is going to.
And there are all the families that live on these small farms and out in the country moved out there for the quality of life, and now that is destroyed. Now, who compensates us? Why should we pay high taxes while these people get Government grants and they get breaks here and breaks there and breaks on their taxes? I don't understand it. And it wasn't there when I moved there. It is there now. Would they move next to a city dump? Would you? Of course not.
And let's get realistic here because there's a ton of people out there around these hog confinements that are really hurt real bad by these people. And my well also is 30 feet from where they dump thousands and thousands of gallons of pig manure on 40 acres. And I asked them if I bought the land next door and put a city dump, would they mind? They said, "Well, no, not if it's just a couple trying to make a living." So you read between the lines about the rest of the manure.
DR. JOHNSON: Mark Friedow and Jim Koch.
MR. JENSEN: My name is John L. Jensen. I live at 2509 500th Street, Elk Horn, Iowa, 51531-5100.
This last session here I ran for State Senate and lost in District 42, which is Audubon County, Shelby County, Harrison County and the north part of Pottawattamie County. Basically I got asked this much about hog lots, this much about health care, and this much about everything else (indicating.) These hog lots are a big issue.
In the election my opponent said, "Well, now, John, you know, this manure could have value," to which I replied, "In that case I would like to make a ten ton donation to the Republican Party."
I'm here because of something that happened. I'm here because I'm very much against the Small Business Administration. That's a player that's not here. We have EPA people, USDA people, but we need the Small Business Administration too because they have a hundred million dollars worth of federal assistance to these hog lots. So it rather surprised me when I came across that information there. The top five states were Iowa, North Dakota, Arkansas, Missouri, Mississippi, but these loans ranged all the way from a million dollars to small loans, but the thing to remember is that you are not subsidizing farmers, you are subsidizing banks.
Eisenhower warned against a military industrial complex. I'm warning against a Government banking complex. When it comes to these hog lots, the big thing is that they are getting built because they are getting Government money. I think that there has to be something to stop making Government loans to these hog lots unless parity price is at least 50 percent. This cannot go on.
A few years ago they had the Freedom to Farm Act. Everybody says, oh, yes, Freedom to Farm, Freedom to Farm. This is great. Get Government out of business--I mean Government out of farming. They thought that would be great. Some people said, "Well, now farmers have the freedom to fail. Well, I call it the Freedom to Plunder Act. I see farmland that should never be plowed up, now raising beans because they said farmers would regulate themselves. Farmers do not regulate themselves. It is up to the money that they want. These hog lots are not working.
They want to live by supply and demand. Well, die by supply and demand. Now some people are saying that they need money to subsidize hog farmers. I don't know how to explain that. It's just that there is such a tremendous oversupply. That's the main thing. We talk about the manure, but also the supply is also a big problem too and it is just increasing.
Something else, too. I just want to talk about the fact that there is something called Murray Clark versus U.S. That was a case that surprised me. It is where somebody actually sued the Federal Government because of an agency polluted the groundwater. Right now I have some people--we're checking in to see if the Government would be liable for pollution if it comes from these Government projects.
MR. FRIEDOW: I thank you very much for allowing us the opportunity to speak. My name is Mark Friedow. I am a member of the Sparto Companies and we are an egg producer. We are members of the Iowa Poultry Association and also members of the United Egg Producers. We have operations in both Minnesota and Iowa, both pullets and layers.
Our industry has changed a lot over the past 30 years, and as an industry we're proud of the food safety and environmental concerns that we have supported. The poultry industry provides to the Animal Ag Consulting Organization here in Iowa, is a member of the National Poultry Dialogue, UEP is represented on that.
To give you just a quick piece of information about the manure from our operations, we have all of the manure in our company-owned operations plus the 15 or 20 contract producers that we have that's sold to Cargill, a large agribusiness company that has contracted on a long-term basis. Cargill uses a GPS program of precision agriculture and resells all the manure to farmers in the areas around our facilities. We're pretty proud of that agreement. I know Cargill is extremely proud of it, and it is a long-term situation and it is a money-maker for the producers for Cargill and for us, and it is something that we are happy to be a partner with them on.
The poultry manure is a very enriching nutrient to the soil, which you probably or may know, but we supply a fair amount of soil tilth as well as nutrients and we think that's an important issue as it relates to the poultry manure.
One of our concerns is increasing regulation. You've probably heard about it. Some believe it, some don't, but it's our opinion that as you continue to increase regulations on livestock production, you're going to work the system to the benefit of the larger producers, and if that's what we intend to do, I guess that's okay. The large producers can obviously handle it.
So we would take the opinion that you want to keep the regulation to a minimum.
I'd like to close by saying that we think that the dialogue, national poultry dialogue, needs to go forward and we would plan to be, as members of UEP, players in that national poultry dialogue.
DR. JOHNSON: Gary Sullivan and Tim Sullivan.
MR. KOCH: I would like to thank the committee for allowing me to make some statements. My name is Jim Koch. I am a family farmer raising livestock and crops for a living.
Somehow today I have acquired some adjectives that changed what I thought I was. I have been labeled the big, the bad, and the ugly. I raise hogs in confinement. I am incorporated. And my hogs are raised in confinement buildings within 150 foot of my house, and my yard is not a sewer.
My wife and I have raised five respectable children working with us in the farming operation. I am a conservationist, or at least thought I was. I thought I farmed God's land. Then I get this letter from the Government saying you now farm hell acres. Well, I got over that. I'm a good steward of the land. Hell acres is highly erodable land. Some of us have a different adjective for it once in a while, but that's where we live.
I am a good steward of the land. I have installed terraces to protect my ground. I use strips on other parts of it. I used minimal tillage for over 20 years. I build up the productivity of my land by the use of nutrients from my livestock operations and also by adding proper amounts of fertilizer, lime, and micro-nutrients to keep everything in balance.
I have used nutrient management since 1985. I have an approved conservation plan on the land that I farm. The shortest term that I have any land rented has been three years, and I just got it three years ago. I just was able to renew another three-year lease on it. Most of my other rented land I've had for over 20 years. And I have had at one time as many as 12 landlords and landladies of which I use a lot of their land for nutrient management which comes out of my hog operation.
Some points I would like you to consider as an owner/operator: I'd like you to consider the amount of time to do all of the extra paperwork, the time to rework the plan if weather does not permit me to follow the plan, the costs involved to develop the plan and alternate and keep the records, and I have to hire a certified person to extract my plan from my head because that's where it's been. Are we going to regulate or overkill?
A couple of points is I'm glad to see a diversified group of citizens here today. This is America. Let's all agree to stop using labels, scare tactics, and exaggeration during these environmental discussions. I believe that each of us, from wherever we're at, whether we're livestock operators, crop raisers, or citizens in town, have a devote obligation to be conservationists on what we have, and you may not have to regulate too many family farmers in the very near future.
One example of that is not prices. They will change. But if we get regulations so stiff that I cannot use the nutrients on my highly erodable land, I have nowhere to grow or use my livestock operation because of the highly erodable land.
I want to stress we need common sense in these discussions and eyes to a feasible and workable plan.
MR. SULLIVAN: I'm a member of the Harlan Community Future Farmers of America Chapter. My thoughts relate to the draft introduction where it talks about the nation's economy. About one-fourth of all the jobs in Iowa are ag regulated. This means when you are driving down Main Street, most of the jobs are related to agriculture.
I would like to farm when I finish college. I have always heard that hogs were the mortgage lifter and kept the lights burning on Main Street. Hogs were a way to employ yourself while getting established in the family farming operation.
All my ancestors prior to my dad's generation made a living farming and feeding animals. In my dad's generation it takes two off-the-farm incomes beside farming to make a living.
If large-scale livestock feeding operations, especially vertically integrated ones, are not stopped, my generation will be worse and I will be the broken link to my family's tradition. This deeply saddens me.
Many of our farmers are nearing retiring age. The Federal Government needs to take responsibility. This means not to let corporate greed of a few steal my generation's chance to use hogs to provide an opportunity to start and make a living farming.
DR. JOHNSON: Charles Salt and John Whitaker and Dan Bruene.
MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you for having this public hearing. It's an opportunity a lot of us have been waiting for. The whole process is to put everyone's thoughts together to come up with a plan that best suits all of America, and I'm glad that you are listening to the family farmer's view. The large-scale livestock producers' view is well represented by Farm Bureau and commodity groups, so don't get these views mixed up with the family farmers' views.
I have talked to a lot of producers in my area and they all believe that greed from a few have stolen our chance to make a living on the farm.
Okay. I'm going right into the draft now. In the introduction where it talks about--the paragraph about economics. Recognizing that farmers and ranchers are primary stewards of many of our nation's natural resources, the animal feeding operations versus concentrated animal feeding operations or farmers and ranchers versus large-scale livestock factories. Farmers and ranchers are essential to our nation's rural, social, and economic structure, while large-scale livestock factories are counterproductive to rural America.
Move to Section 2.2, water quality and public health risks. Our nation's aquifers are not mentioned, and this is of great concern to me. An example was reported in Time magazine's November 30 issue. The article is called "The Empire of the Pigs," and we should all read it if we haven't. It states that Seaboard--and this is just one example--Corporation has five large lagoons sitting directly above the Ogallala aquifer. The aquifers are an intricate part of our water quality and it is of dire importance to address this because of the role that they play in public health and drinking water.
Section 3.3, the comprehensive nutrient management, the section on preventing leakage. There is no way to guarantee lagoons will not leak over the long term. Money must be set aside to clean and close them when the CFOs are finished or leave. A progressive sewage tax could be levied on hog factories, both farrowing and finishing factories. An example is a factory producing 10,000 head could pay an annual sewage tax of a dollar a head. A factory producing 20,000 could pay $2 a head, while a factory producing 50,000 could pay $5 a head. At any rate, these lagoons and cesspools cannot be abandoned. They must be clean and closed and the money needs to be collected while the factories are producing or it will be taxpayers paying for them later. Okay.
The financial assistance on number 4. I understand that you're talking about AFOs and not CFOs, but we've got to make sure that in the final draft that the CFOs are not included in the financial assistance. They have enough money to build these mega farm factories and we should not use taxpayers' money to assist them in any way or form. In fact, we should tax them to discourage their existence.
In conclusion, no one wants bigger Government or more regulations and that is not our goal or intent. It is obvious, though, that we need a responsible Government to take action on this issue. The CFOs find a lenient locale and then abuse the system. The concentration in our meat industry is not good. To avoid prices in our food supply we need a wide distribution of animal ownership and it is also very important to the rural communities' social and economic stability.
DR. JOHNSON: That was Tim Sullivan.
MR. PIATT: I'm Charles Piatt, retired farmer from Northern Iowa. I have a son that now operates the farm. I also serve on the board of directors of the American Corn Growers Association. I also have experience as a fertilizer salesman who has taken hundreds of soil samples for farmers over the last several years. My comments will reflect both views of the ACGA and my personal opinions.
First, from the ACGA position, let me state that we have deep concerns about the environmental impact and the social impact of livestock factories. The ACGA has for some time been active in trying to educate corn growers in the Mississippi watershed, which includes all the upper Midwest, of the high hypoxy area in the Gulf of Mexico. As you are well aware, this has caused severe hardship on fishermen who depend on these waters for their living. While agriculture should not be considered the sole source of the problem, we obviously deserve some of the blame.
The movement of nitrogen and phosphorus has been credited for much of the problem. ACGA efforts have been directed toward educating producers to use only the amount of nutrients needed to produce the proposed crop. We encourage producers to utilize the builder strip provisions provided under current CRP regulations. I personally as well as the ACGA are very concerned by the lack of regulation of livestock waste disposal under the current regulations.
During the last two months since harvest, thousands of acres of Iowa land has been fertilized with liquid hog waste based solely on nitrogen requirements for next year's crop. This means as much as three to five times the optimum phosphorus requirements--and that's by Iowa State's own figures--have been applied. My soil testing experience shows that P levels reach excessive amounts after only one application.
Compounding the problem is the fact that no crop will be utilizing these nutrients for six to seven months. We believe it is unrealistic to think that large losses of these nutrients will not occur over this time.
The ACGA would like to go on record by stating that we'll do all we can to educate producers in doing the best possible job of utilizing these nutrients and pledge to work closely with you to correct abuses.
From a personal perspective, I believe siting of these livestock factories does have a tremendous impact on the pollution potential. Far too many facilities have been built too close to streams and other water sources.
I, myself, and the American Corn Growers Association will support a moratorium at this time until some of these abuses are corrected.
I also believe many of these sites should be closed until a thorough environmental impact study can be completed. Case in point: A new facility is currently under construction less than 800 foot from where our son's home is. Three buildings with pits were dug into fractured limestone. These fractures lead directly to the underground aquifer which all residents in this area rely on. DNR maps of Floyd County--and they are available for every county in the State, by the way--where this site and others are located has large areas of parched outcroppings and also show 1,000 known sinkholes as well as the second largest concentration of ag drainage wells in the state.
All of the residents within a couple of miles of this site are very concerned; in fact, they are irate that no action can be taken in advance to protect their water supplies. They have even foregone their fear of Government regulations and petitioned you people, the EPA, for Government intervention at this particular site.
In closing, I would like to reflect their concerns by stating that the time for action is now, not after groundwater and other water sources become unusable. Thank you for your time.
One other little comment. I also do some consulting work for value-added projects. A few months back, probably about a year ago, I got a call from a firm in England and they were very interested in wanting to know if there was enough concentration in Iowa livestock waste material that they could come in and build a processing facility to extract nutrients back out of the waste.
During our conversation, and this is something I want all of you to take to heart, I made the comment I could understand things like nitrates and phosphorus and getting some minerals I said what about there would be a large concentration of starch, undigested starch, particularly in hog manure? And the response was, "Well, yes, yes, yes. Do you have a sweetener plant in your area?" The next time you open a package of that sugar, think about it.
MR. WHITAKER: That's a sobering thought. And to think a little bit ago I wanted to go have a Coke.
I'm John Whitaker. I'm president of the Iowa Farmers Union and I have some things that I'd like you to remember. It is obvious the need for some strong standards. That has been illustrated today by the people from all over the Midwest who have been here to address you and to talk about the problems that they have been having in their own states and localities.
Three things I would like you to remember out of that and in your draft to be sure and emphasize. All cost of environmental damage or the prevention of environmental damage should be borne by those people causing that environmental damage, not the taxpayers.
As I was sitting back here listening to this, and I realize you all don't get overtime, but you're here because of 50 large pork producers in this country and their confined animal feeding operations are creating a mess, a big mess. You're having to take time off as employees of us, as taxpayers, to be out here. They should be paying for that, in my opinion.
Speaking of those large 50 operators, remember that they cause the vast, vast majority of pollution because all of their operations are confined animal feeding operations. It is not the pasture farrow operation that you saw out there that's creating the problem, the family farm. Those large operation are creating the problem. They should be held directly responsible. You should remember that in the regulations and in your draft.
Senator Harkin talked about an investment credit. I know that's not on one of the things you have there. My thought on that is it should go only to particular operations, those operations being owned by families, run by families, where the majority of the labor, management, and capital come from that facility. I mean a husband, wife and children.
In your regulations you must be able to pierce the corporate veil, hold investors directly responsible for the environmental damage that the operations that they invest in--hold them financially responsible. If someone is responsible for a junk bond, they ought to be responsible for a junk lagoon as well.
Given the current price situation of pork, you've got to remember, we can't wait until 2008. There's going to be a lot of pressure on some of these investor-driven operations to cut corners, to continue to give that investment income back, and it is not going to be available under current prices, so we can't wait ten years. We can't hardly wait ten months. They are going to be doing a lot of damage in the meantime.
Thanks a lot. I appreciate your time.
DR. JOHNSON: Ed Wiederstein and Lindsey Larson.
MR. BRUENE: I'm Dan Bruene, president of the Conservation Districts of Iowa, and I want to welcome you to Iowa and I appreciate your taking the time to come from Washington out to the Midwest to listen to us. My comments are just very brief.
Soil and water conservation districts are mentioned several times as having a role in the draft strategy. We as districts have over a 50 year track record of helping producers implement programs on their land. With sound science and adequate technical assistance, we can continue to do so and look forward to that.
MR. WIEDERSTEIN: My name is Ed Wiederstein and I raise corn, beans, and my own hogs on a farm in Audubon County. I also serve as president of the Iowa Farm Bureau and that is the state's largest general farm organization and I appreciate the opportunity to be here. We have to make comments on behalf of our 159,000 members.
The Iowa Farm Bureau has been proactively involved in animal agriculture and environmental issues for many years. We helped to shape the landmark legislation that guides regulation of the livestock industry in Iowa. We are concerned--
I sat back there for about 40 speakers. I politely sat back there and listened to every one of you and I expect the same from you now, please.
We are concerned about the impact that the EPA strategy will have on all the producers and especially the small to medium independent producers. Our goal throughout this process is to ensure that producers are not overburdened with regulatory requirements, and that they have the necessary tools to operate in an environmentally and economically sustainable manner.
Increasing the regulatory burden on family farm producers may have the unanticipated result of forcing more consolidation in the industry. We must carefully balance our mutual desire for a healthy environment with a business environment that does not discourage independence or growth.
I'd like to remind the distinguished panelists here today that farmers were made three promises with the passage of the 1996 Farm Bill. One of those promises was to reduce the regulatory burden on farmers. The new rules that the EPA intends to impose on family farmers are in direct conflict with that promise. In a day when I sell hogs for less than $20 per hundredweight, I can ill afford to have expensive and confusing rules imposed upon me that may not achieve the desired result.
Iowa has a strong regulatory program to ensure proper siting and management of livestock operations, and I have included with my written comments a comparison of the Federal and State permitting programs. With the exception of some size differences based on types of manure-handling systems, the Iowa permit is far more comprehensive and stringent in protecting the environment than the Federal NPDES program.
In our view, EPA exceeds its legal authority with many of the proposals in the strategy. The Clean Water Act specifically defines those animal feeding operations that are considered point sources and thus required to have an NPDES permit. The Act also specifically excludes agricultural storm water discharge and runoff from ag operations from regulations as point sources.
EPA is within its statutory authority to require permits of all operations over 1,000 animal units or those smaller units that directly discharge into waters of the U.S. The EPA is not within its statutory authority to require a permit for smaller operations without a direct discharge or to classify land application of nutrients as a point source discharge.
EPA is moving faster than our current body of scientific knowledge with many of its proposals. We are concerned that EPA and USDA may establish phosphorus standards based on a limited understanding of phosphorus movement, plant utilization, and water quality impacts. Research in this in area is relatively limited, and there are many unanswered questions that deserve further study before producers are held to any standard or requirement.
EPA's desire to impose a one-size-fits-all phosphorus management standard is at odds with what we know about phosphorus movement in the soil. For instance, research has proven that phosphorus moves easily in loose, sandy soils like those found on the East Coast. Iowa soils are much denser and phosphorus more readily attaches to the soil, thus inhibiting the movement of the phosphorus. A blanket soil standard may also triple land area necessary for manure application.
In closing, I urge EPA to take a go-slow and get-it-right approach rather than just blindly pushing a new set of regulations on Iowa producers.
Thank you very much.
DR. JOHNSON: Pete Jorgensen, Al Schafbuch and Debbie Neustadt.
MR. LARSON: My name is Lindsey Larson. I'm from Jefferson, Iowa. I'm a farmer there, also a member of the Animal Agricultural Consulting Organization that does work with the Department in this state to promulgate rules according to legislation passed.
I have four concerns basically with the draft strategy that I have reviewed. It is stated in the strategy that there will be approximately fifteen to twenty thousand permitted units when the goals are accomplished. I believe it may be many more than that when you look at the numbers in Iowa and other states. And I know those numbers were taken into account some years back, but I think that makes us look at two things: The resources involved to do that includes people and includes dollars, and I think you need to take that into account when you further complete that draft strategy.
The other concern I have is in the record-keeping portion. It talks about nutrient utilization. In organic matter decomposition, nitrogen basically is broken down and becomes available in the soil. If we're to base an application rate strictly on nutrient uptake and then nutrient utilization, I think it would be very hard to pinpoint how organic matter decomposes and how much nitrogen is actually available. It requires a lot of testing and a lot of work to keep track of that. I think that needs to be taken into account when the plan is summarized and comes into effect.
Another point is certification of the comprehensive nutrient management plan. We understand that it will be a certified specialist that does that. Currently, in a quick count in my county, we have ten certified crop advisors who go through a rigorous process of testing to meet that standard, so if you just did a quick multiplication of saying seven in every county in the rest of Iowa, you would have 700 people available to observe in this, albeit requiring some further training and handling of nutrients dealing with manure.
But I think this gives an advantage of using the private certified crop advisors to take off some of this load so we don't create another layer of bureaucracy out there that adds to the cost of producers.
The other aspect of the application of nutrient uptake in the nutrient management plan is, as I read the strategy, it will be based on the uptake of the crop itself. Many farms around Iowa in the past and the present and the future, there will be farms that you come upon that are very nutrient poor. And we would call that soil building, applying nutrients to build the soil to increase the output from that investment that you make.
I would hope that the strategy would apply some sort of means to allow soil building in farms that do test very poor in nutrients because, believe me, they are out there and I have taken some of those over and improved them and it does result in increased profit to that producer.
MR. JORGENSEN: Hello. I'm Pete Jorgensen and I'd like to thank the Board for the opportunity to be here and speak. I don't know, sitting here trying to figure out what to say, and I thought maybe I'd start by telling you what I am. But after listening to everybody today, I'm not sure what I am. I'm a family farmer, a factory farmer, an integrator, a meat raiser, a steward of the land, a land abuser, a CFO, an AFO, an animal caretaker, an environmentalist or environmental abuser. I guess it all depends on who is drawing the lines. But I will tell you, all those names don't change anything. We will do what we'll do regardless of what you call you us.
What we are willing to do out here, let's start with that. I'm willing to be the first one to drink the water out of my well every morning. I'm willing to live the closest person to our operation. I am willing and currently undertaking in a study done by the United States Center for Disease and the Iowa Department of Health, we're going in and looking for pathogens in hog manure where applied in fields.
I'm willing to be held totally responsible for any damage that's done out there, and I am being held totally responsible.
I am willing to adopt new technology that is scientifically proven to help the problem. I am not willing to make drastic and radical changes in a proven production technique for the sake of public relations and relieving unfounded concerns. When we have the scientific information that is available to make scientific decisions, we will make the right decisions. The concern is, is that scientific information available yet? Let's go do the studies, let's find out what's going on, and then we can address the problem rather than think we're doing something and in effect make it worse.
Just a couple things that were said here today that I guess maybe deserve some observations. The moratorium: While on the surface that may sound like a good idea, if we are not willing to allow new buildings to be built or existing buildings to be changed, we are admitting that we're stuck with the current technology. We cannot change it if we are not willing to improve it.
I would like to close by saying what I noticed here today. There is a lot of passion and emotion in this room and I applaud that. There has never been a problem that has been solved without passion and emotion. But there is a third part to that. We need to have logic. We need to go back and look at exactly what is happening so we can make the right decision.
DR. JOHNSON: John McNutt and Mark Muller.
MR. SCHAFBUCH: My name is Al Schafbuch and I'm a farmer, a cattle feeder from central Iowa. I've fed cattle for over 40 years.
I hope you will be very careful thinking about the long-range implications of any regulations that you impose on the livestock feeder. We've heard today mostly about hogs. We must remember that this is going to affect the entire livestock industry, cattle, turkey, sheep, all of the livestock industry. It isn't just the one segment that we're talking about here.
And 20 years ago, regulations sent most of the cattle feeding out of Iowa. I was part of it then, and the cattle feeding went out West because they didn't have the regulations we did now. Now we're trying to get some of them back for economic benefit. We've set a lot more regulations in place since that time. Now we have setback distances, controls of lagoons and the hauling of manure. The more regulations we put in place, the less family farms we have. That's what we caused to have happened.
We have caused confinement buildings in Iowa to be spread all over the state. Now we have the same effect of a city with industrial plants spread in with the residential homes. That is why there are areas in a city for industry and other areas for homes. Now with the confinement buildings all spread around the whole state, the whole state is feeling like it is living by an industrial plant. They are scattered all over. Everybody is a neighbor to them.
With the new ways to separate solids from liquid, why haul a product that's 90 percent water? Separate the solids from the liquid, we could move this manure a great distance. We can compost it. We could probably sell it to California once you get the water out of the product. That's part of the key is we're talking about having something that probably in the future is going to change. Get the technology going.
Anyhow, this process is very expensive and can only be used if a large amount of manure is available. So now we spread the confinement buildings all over the state so we don't have a concentration in one place where we could put the separation technology in place and thereby use this technology to make a product that nobody likes into a product that somebody would probably buy.
If we had not regulated the livestock industry and spread it all over the state, we'd probably have had enough manure for us to use this process. Now nobody can afford to do this or any other new method or to transport this manure. Try not to box the livestock feeder in so that regulations cause him to do things that turn out wrong.
The air and water are cleaner today than they were 20 years ago. The things are already done to clean up the environment are just now making a difference, so if we continue to do what we're doing, air and water will get better every year.
The feeding industry can also go overseas like the fruits and vegetables have, along with the manufacturing jobs. My wife was in a department store today and almost everything there was imported. You want to buy all the products from China and Taiwan and you name it? We won't have a job left in this country if we don't keep something around here. Let's not let the jobs and the expertise go overseas.
Thanks for your attention.
MS. NEUSTUDT: My name is Debbie Neustudt. I'm a teacher at East High School here in Des Moines and I saw Mr. Fox at a conference. I was there as part of the Clean Water Network. I volunteer for the Sierra Club, and Ken Midkiff already made a presentation on our behalf.
I would like to speak on behalf of the National Campaign for Sustainable Agriculture. The National Campaign believes that economic and environmentally sound sustainable alternatives exist in large-scale factory farms. The draft strategy should recommend that these existing truly sustainable livestock production practices be encouraged as alternatives to factory farms.
Before I continue to mention other specific concerns of the strategy, I'd like to remind everyone that the farm bill contained a mandatory funding of a program called Conservation Farm Option. We believe that this program would reward innovative, sustainable farming systems that require integrated whole farm multiple resource planning and management.
The program supported on-farm adapted conservation research and demonstration. It provided flexible approaches to soil, water, wetland and wildlife protection, and stimulated innovative program delivery and design. The Conservation Farm Option has been abandoned by the Administration. Since this adoption, there was $47.5 million mandated in the farm bill. The CFO funding has been lost, including 12 million in FY98. This was a popular program. There were 120 pilot projects.
The rest of the concerns that the National Campaign for Sustainable Agriculture has regarding the unified strategy, the draft strategy, should be revised to require the existing large-scale liquid manure handling systems be phased out and these systems be prohibited in any permit for new or expanding operations.
In addition, the sound strategy should impose a moratorium on new or expanding factory farms until the environmental impacts are assessed and adequate regulatory measures are adopted for dealing with these impacts.
The draft strategy should clarify that the standards for comprehensive nutrient management plans should include both nitrogen and phosphorus limitations based on water quality protection for land application of factory farm animal waste. The draft strategy should also clarify the relationship between EPA's effluent guidelines for land-applied animal waste and the NRCS technical standards for nutrient management.
All permitted facilities should have a comprehensive nutrient management plan which the public can review before the permit is approved and its implementation is a fully enforceable condition of the permit.
The draft strategy should require that vertical integrators who own the animals and factory farms and dictate the conditions of operation of factory farms be legally liable and financially responsible for factory farm pollution.
Thank you for the time.
MR. McNUTT: My name is John McNutt. I live in my great grandfather's house and farm about 800 acres over by Iowa City, Iowa. I have a young son, 13 years old, that wears an FFA jacket just like the young man that was here, and I have hopes that some day that he comes back to our family farming operation. We have about 300 sows. We also would probably be over a thousand animal units so we would be potentially a regulated unit.
I was elected to the board of directors of National Pork Producers Council in 1994. That was five years ago. This last March I was elected as president-elect of the organization. And what I find, probably one of the saddest parts of the entire event that has swept over our state and our nation in this last several years is that I am now "them," and people out here are "them" also, and I think we need to all become "we," and I think that the process that we're undergoing today is helpful, and the National Pork Producer organization and I as a Board member and as a leader in that organization believe that we need to have regulation on our industry.
To that end, a year ago we entered into a discussion with the American Clean Water Foundation to kind of supervise the process with the Environmental Protection Agency, the USDA, and the National Pork Producers Council. Also invited were all the major environmental organizations. They unfortunately walked out after the first day or second day of the process, which I think is too bad, because if they had stayed involved in the process, a lot of their concerns that are still being expressed could have been dealt with in that process.
The ten-month environmental dialogue process involved thousands of hours of producers of all types, large and small, professional experts from across the country, and many people in the regulatory community. This comprehensive framework of regulatory and research recommendations as well as cost share and technical assistance proposals were extremely important. All three, regulation, research and technical assistance, are equally important to address environmental concerns.
I am pleased to note that many of these recommendations are now contained in the draft Unified Strategy. For example, restrictions on rates and methods of manure application, including requirements for soil and manure testing, preparation of nutrient utilization plans, and in certain circumstances, employment of a phosphorus based standard.
Management and location requirements prevent pollution of surface and groundwater to control odor; training of pork producers and their employees who are engaged in land application activities and are also responsible for emergency response plans.
The dialogue is one example of the progressive steps that the National Pork Producers Council has taken in environmental management. In addition to policy development through the dialogue, pork producers have developed innovative producer education and research programs that put technical resources in the hands of the producers at the farm level where they are needed.
For example, we have developed the on- farm odor and environmental assistance program to provide detailed environmental assistance of the odor and water quality management of producers' farms. These are assessments conducted by a team of objective, neutral individuals who have been trained, tested and certified through an outside third-party verifier process. The team conducts the assessment following a consistent rigorous protocol designed to identify the key odor and water quality risk areas of a particular farm. This program is available to all producers in states where the state pork producer association has begun implementation.
I'm very pleased the EPA has evaluated this program and found it to be a valuable method of identifying and correcting environmental concerns on pork farms.
The compliance audit program, which we have heard some about today and some negative comments made about that, between the EPA and National Pork Producers Council can be a powerful incentive to do what I think the EPA and the protection of the U.S. waters program is designed to do. It is designed to be an incentive to get out there and correct problems and to deal with the issues.
Thank you so much.
DR. JOHNSON: Susan Heathcote, Gary Klickes, and Steve Vasey.
MR. MULLER: My name is Mark Muller with the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy in Minneapolis. We have been researching the impact industrialized agriculture has had on farm income, rural communities and the environment. I'd like to address some of the underlying reasons that we are given for industrialized agriculture, namely, to boost farm income and feed the world. Our current farming system does neither.
We are told that bioculture, genetically modified crops, chemical inputs, and industrialized feedlots are needed to feed hungry children in Africa. For the past 25 years, Africa's undernourished has risen from 100 million to 300 million. Agribusiness' interest is where profits are: North America, Europe, and sometimes east Asia. We have to stop using the feed-the-world myth as an excuse for industrialization.
What about farm income? Farmers now receive only 10 cents of the food dollar. In the past 20 years as food exports continually increased, the farm profitability measured in dollars per acre has been negative for the majority of those years. Feeding the farm as far as an industrial model is destroying more family farms, causing rural communities to disappear, contaminating our soil and water. This agricultural system is non-sustainable, environmentally or economically.
I consider the proposed AFO strategy a tweaking of the current agribusiness system. We need much more. We need a new food and farming system. Climate change, hypoxia in the Gulf of Mexico, the loss of family farms, these are all huge problems that will continue uninhibited by this proposed strategy.
I'll end by saying I was very pleased to hear the gentleman here from EPA talk about yardsticks and ways of measuring improvements, and I'd like to make a suggestion for that. I share some hesitancy with increased regulation just for the sake of regulation. One suggestion I might make is what we've been working on here at the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, looking at the nitrogen and phosphorus and potassium entering a farm through the feeds, through the fertilizers, and looking at what's leaving the farm through the meats and through the crop products.
We have found that the small family farms tend to have in excess of somewhere around a few pounds per acre, usually no more than 50 pounds per acre, while the huge factory feedlots have in excess of 700, 800 pounds per acre. If we can have tools like this that can differentiate between family farms that are trying to make a difference and the industrial model, I think this is the strategy that we should work towards.
MS. HEATHCOTE: Hello. My name is Susan Heathcote and I'm the research director for the Iowa Environmental Council, a statewide alliance of 57 organizations and hundreds of individuals working to protect our national environment and to share a sustainable future.
In the past four years there have been 51 manure spills into Iowa rivers and streams. Over 1.1 million fish have been killed along with countless other aquatic species. At least one manure spill contaminated groundwater by flowing into an agricultural drainage well.
In addition, air pollution, odorous gasses and airborne particles threaten the health and well being of rural neighbors near large-scale operations. In Iowa, this issue has become so divisive that it threatens not only our health, environment, and quality of life, but also the well-being and reputation of our conservation farmers and the future of our entire state.
Iowa farmers have been raising crops and livestock in harmony with the environment for many decades. Thousands are doing so right now, yet we are losing family farmers in the dramatic shift towards industrial production of livestock and allowing massive pollution of our land, air, and water. Our laws at both the state and the national levels support this shift partly because they allow vast quantities of manure to be disposed of as a waste, rather than valued and used as part of the sustainable system.
These laws must change. We must support conservation farming methods and assure the polluters are held fully responsible for the contamination they create. If manure is used as a resource, there will be fewer negative environmental impacts. In fact, there can be positive impacts in soil fertility and less reliance on commercial fertilizer.
Education, technical assistance, and incentives as recommended in this strategy are the most effective way to enhance conservation farming, but you must include the financial resources to make this a reality or the strategy is just hollow talk.
Negative environmental impacts are inevitable when manure is disposed of as a waste. When manure is treated as a waste, very careful oversight and strong regulation is crucial to minimize environmental impacts and the external cost that society pays in the atmospheric nitrogen, global climate change, ground and surface water pollution, and degradation of air quality.
We must assure strong penalties for pollution and begin the immediate phaseout of practices that treat manure as a waste. These include anaerobic lagoons and spray irrigation.
In addition, we support EPA's proposal to develop watershed-specific permits. This will better address site-specific conditions and project vulnerable areas. However, individual operations will still need to have individual permits in order for this to be enforceable and to work.
The Council supports recommendations that call for all CAFOs to obtain NPDES permits and to include land application practices in the permit requirements even if the facility claims that they have a no-discharge facility.
We support manure management requirements in each permit. Soil and manure testing must be included, and appropriate agronomic rates for manure application must include phosphorus and potassium, not just nitrogen. We feel it is essential to include all environmental impacts such as air quality when we have seven effluent guidelines.
The EPA strategy does not address water monitoring as part of the permit. We feel strongly that both surface water and groundwater monitoring are essential permit requirements. The strategy must be broadened to address the liability of integrators for pollution. The facility under contract with an integrator, the integrator should be liable along with the operator for permit violations.
We must shorten the timetable for issuing these permits, making regulatory changes, and committing the resources to education and technical assistance that we need. We need to act now to better protect our environment and before we lose more conservation farmers.
In conclusion, the Iowa Environmental Council believes the joint strategy is a decent but a very modest first step. The strategy needs to be significantly strengthened and adequately funded in order to make an actual difference in protecting our health and the environment.
MR. KLICKER: My name is Gary Klicker. I'm a member of a number of farm groups, all of which are fighting against the corporate invasion of rural Iowa. I submit, first of all, that this strategy that you propose is a sham and you knew it to start with. After all, if it had any chance of being effective, the NPPC and the Farm Bureau would have already been filing suit against it.
The gentleman asked for suggestions on what they could do with that all that manure, and believe me, I really would like to tell him. I promised myself I wouldn't do that.
The difference between factory farms and family farms is it was never a problem. You must remember ten years ago this was not an issue. You need to get off the backs of family farmers, get off the Farm Bureau line when you say we've got to stop these--control this medium- and small-sized producers. That's hog wash. Those guys never were causing a problem. The problems they are causing now are minimal. The problem is from factory farms, factory-sized operations only. You need to keep track of that.
There is a right way of doing things and a wrong way of doing things. There certainly is. Raising your family out on a farm, raising a few hogs in an environmentally sensible way is the right way. Invading the neighborhood and destroying the quality of life for the entire community with a huge factory farm that sends the profits overseas, out of country, out of state, to a few shareholders is the wrong way.
You said we are going to take ten years to build this--to accomplish your restrictions, give these people ten years to come in line. That's ridiculous. Remember, ten years ago the State of North Carolina was a nice place to live. Now the State of North Carolina is awash in hog waste as the rest of this country is becoming.
I've got five corporate hog facilities within three miles of my home. Two years ago there was one, and it was a small family farm. I've got nothing against them. I want those guys to make a living. I don't want all the money going to out-of-state owners, out-of-state stockholders, which is exactly where it is going right now. These people do not have a right to destroy our lives in order to make a dollar.
You people are our last line of defense. We need the help of the Environmental Protection Agency, not the Environmental Procrastination Agency. We need the help of the United States Department of Agriculture, not the United States Department of Apathy. We need the help of our state universities. Our state universities have been feeding the corporate pig for far too long.
It is no surprise that the Farm Bureau president is here supporting this corporate endeavor. After all, the Farm Bureau is one of the biggest pork owners in the United States. Through their subsidiaries, they are one of the biggest pork owners in the United States, so why wouldn't they support it against the family farm?
Thank you very much.
DR. JOHNSON: Let me call Wayne Bott, John Bolbe and Steve Carvey.
MR. VASEY: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. My name is Steve Vasey and I'm a member of the board of directors of the Hawkeye Fly Fishing Association. We are affiliated with the Fly Fishing Association of America. We are also members of the REAP Alliance, the Iowa Environmental Council. We are involved in numerous conservation projects. We work side by side with DNR fisheries people improving streams. We're actually in the water doing shocking surveys and creating riprap and other habitat for both warm water and cold water species.
In addition, I'm right today a very angry angler. This summer the Iowa DNR has reported 465,309 fish killed in 31 separate manure spills from animal feed operations, and I'm not including spills from--or fish kills from nitrogen or the co-op spill that spilled nitrogen. As a side issue, the average value placed on those fish by DNR was 6 cents a fish. But that's not something I'm going to talk about today.
Now, are we going to raise hogs on family farms or factory farms? That's really what the question is, and I don't see it being addressed by this draft proposal. Will the money go into the pockets of independent farmers who live in and work in and support our communities, or into Wendell Murphy's pocket and Fred DeCoster's pocket?
Farmers by their very nature are conservationists. I trust hog farmers. I don't trust hog factories.
Are we going to have policies that support families or policies that destroy them; laws that protect small towns and the family-owned businesses in those towns or laws that lead to their inevitable destruction? Are we going to have policies that protect the property rights of our friends and neighbors or policies that turn neighbor against neighbor and friend against friend? Do we have anything to say about that? That's what we're here today to find out.
Are we going to have policies that protect our rivers and streams and the water we drink, the fish, the wildlife, or policies that destroy them? And do we have anything to say about that?
A decade ago there were 40,000 hog producers in Iowa. Now there are only 18,000. Where did the rest of them go? They are not numbers. They are real people. They are real families, real communities. Some people say that what's happening is inevitable and some people go so far as to call it progress. I don't call it progress.
I'd like to give you one example of how out-of-whack our current state laws are, and in fact the solution in Iowa will be solved in the State of Iowa. In northeast Iowa, Winneshiek County, there is a special stream called French Creek. It's the best trout stream in Iowa. It has natural reproduction of brown trout and brook trout. It's a very special place. I think it could be, with careful management, one of the top 100 trout streams of its kind in the nation.
The Fisheries Division of the DNR thinks it is pretty special as well. They manage it as catch-and-release, artificial lure, one of only four places in Iowa that are managed that way. They are managing it, in effect, as a special trophy trout stream.
In addition, they are relocating genetically unique Iowa brook trout from their only remaining habitat, South Pine, Upper French Creek, in an effort to protect them from extinction. They don't want to have all their eggs in one basket.
At least one other division of DNR recognizes French Creek as being special. It's been chosen as a reference stream for the state, clean, pure, and unimpacted as yet by agricultural operations. It is the rule by which the impact of the agricultural operations on other streams in the area will be measured. It may represent the cleanest surface water in the state.
Why then is a Murphy Farms confinement for over 3,000 hogs being built on the ridgetop that drains directly into French Creek? This is an area of thin glacial till covering fractured limestone, the kind of geology where if you spill it on the ground today, you drink it tomorrow.
Why has the owner of this facility, why has he been able in the past to legally spread animal waste on the publicly owned land along the stream, the same ground that hunters, fishermen and hikers and bird watchers walk on? Why is it that a young man paralyzed, living alone in his own trailer on one acre of land leased to him for life, could wake up to find this 3,000 head Murphy Farm hog confinement only 290 feet from his doorstep? Why is it that the Environmental Protection Division of the DNR should be forced, based on Iowa code, to conclude that there was no separation distance violation?
Why is it that a young man who was faced with so many other obstacles and misfortunes should also have to contend with this? Why is it that on October 18, 1998, Randy Marty took his own life?
I'm an angry angler and there's a lot more where I come from.
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to express my opinion.
MR. BOTT: Good afternoon. My name is Wayne Bott and I'm from Clinton, Iowa. I guess I'd like to say kind of positive things about some of the things that EPA and the NRC have done. I am part of an EQIP priority, not by my own doing but by neighbors and whoever got it going, but I will benefit with about $25,000 in cost share over the next three years for doing some of the things that I wanted to do anyway.
Now, I'm kind of an energy person that believes that we are using way too much energy for our production and in transportation and other things. So in the comprehensive nutrient management plan, I would suggest that that be called the comprehensive element management plan. In other words, as a farmer, Bott's Harvest and Storage of solar energy, I need elements to store this energy, basically organic matter and some mineral and micro nutrients.
If we manage--in other words, to raise the animals, we have to raise the crops, so we have to consider the crops as part of the problem--or the solution in the environmental equation. So if we call it the comprehensive element management practice or the comprehensive energy management practice or program, a lot of these things that we're talking about, buildup of phosphorus and a lot of the pollution things, will fall to the wayside when we start managing energy, because in order for us to keep growing crops, we have to keep these elements going back to the soil so that the crops can grow, so that we can grow more animals, and it goes round and round.
Sometimes I keep hearing economic viability. When we're considering environmental things, economic viability may not be something that we should consider, because if it's--just because it is not economically viable doesn't mean that it is not right, so to some degree, just because it is economically viable doesn't make it environmentally right or even sustainable, and I guess to a large part I would suggest some ways to get education. Education, I think, to the masses will help create the laws, the incentives, the disincentives that we need for me as a farmer to maintain sustainability.
And I guess a lot of these things have been said today about the hypoxy area and other research being done on the organic forms in Ames and Iowa City, that the global--I forget the name of it, but anyway the University of Iowa has a center for global and regional environmental effect or something.
But I would like to close by saying that I am an organic farmer. I am trying to reduce soil losses. The things that I'm doing for water quality--water quality is the program that I'm getting the cost share for, but I would have liked to done them for energy savings, for getting carbon out of the atmosphere, for all of the other environmental issues also, so it is under the guise of water, but atmosphere is an energy of utmost priority.
But the abilities of a few after a period of time become the necessity of many. And how many things haven't we seen--TV, that one time somebody could have, and now we all have three or four, but I guess the ability for me to produce a crop without synthetic nitrogen--I farm organically-- without synthetic fertilizer. I've done it for ten years. I'm still learning, and it will get better and better, and I hope that my ability to do it will eventually become the necessity of many.
DR. JOHNSON: Wayne Nickles and Brian Rohrig.
MR. BOLBE: I'm John Bolbe. I'm here on behalf of the National Farmers Organization in Ames, Iowa. I'm an agricultural economist and I own and manage a third-generation Wisconsin farm.
The National Farmers Organization represents independent producers nationwide in negotiating contracts and other terms of trade for grain, livestock, and dairy. We are in the marketplace doing so on a daily basis. The specific purpose is to help independent producers extract the dollars they need to cash-flow their operations, pay their expenses and earn a living from what they produce and sell.
We define an independent producer as one who, with his or her family, resides on their farm, provides the day-to-day labor and management, decision-making, controls the marketing of the production, whose own capital is at risk and wants to own or desires to own that business. Our basic premise is that agriculture consisting of independent producers is not only desirable but essential for maintaining our nation's food production, rural businesses, communities, and infrastructure.
There are several key points that independent farmers need to be able to do the job that they themselves recognize needs to be done in protecting and maintaining the environment. First of all, states need to have the flexibility to achieve established goals voluntarily.
Secondly, maximum flexibility at the local level for independent producers and those who assist farmers is critical.
Thirdly, independent producers should have to deal with only one agency in planning and implementation of plans or strategies. Independent producer business goals and objectives need to be a major consideration in any strategy. Assistance and cost share funds should be targeted to independent producers as opposed to industrialized farms.
A high level of independent producer involvement in planning and strategy formulation is necessary for the success of any program. Solutions and strategies need to be low-cost and effective, and independent producer innovation and problem-solving is often underestimated by agencies, but is critical to achieving satisfactory solutions to environmental problems.
All too often technological fixes that are complex and extremely costly have left independent farmers leery of any agency involvement. Many agency-proposed fixes and solutions have left farmers bearing costs in excess of cost-share funds and put them at a competitive disadvantage and in some cases it has amounted to thousands of dollars per farm in out-of-pocket costs and left the situation worse than if left alone.
There are two examples that contradict what was presented by the strategy here today. That is that there's the Ontario Environmental Farm Plan in Canada where farmers indeed do write their own nutrient management plan, and the other is Trempealeau County, Wisconsin, where a study concluded that in order to achieve widespread adoption, farmers need to be able to write their own plans.
Any programs need to have a high level of independent producer input and be economically viable for that farming operation. Compulsory regulation should be used with discretion in selected and the most compelling instances of threats to the environment. Regulation has more often than not failed miserably. Again, independent producer innovation and strategies for their own survival will be the key to independent family farm producer success and economic well-being.
DR. JOHNSON: Let me remind you, those of you who have material that you would like to have considered in the revising of the draft, please use the stamped self-addressed envelopes out there to send it in.
MR. CARNEY: Good evening. First I'd like to say thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak. My name is Sam Carney and I'm from Adair, Iowa. I'm currently a member of the Iowa Pork Producers, the Iowa Beef Producers, and the Iowa Farm Bureau. I operate and manage a family farm with my son and my brother. We have a diversified operation with row crop, cattle, and a farrow-to-finish hog operation.
We have heard many comments on animal waste affecting groundwater and polluting the atmosphere. My family and I and our livestock use the water as well. It would be insane for us to intentionally pollute the water we use.
On our farm we take soil tests every five to six years and keep our lime high enough to utilize all nutrients. The manure we haul is charted on maps provided by the farm service agency, and we keep records of all applications. Last year we put a GPS system in our combine. When I get four to five years' information gathered, we will then use our liquid manure spreader with the GPS system. We will be putting exactly what we take off the land back on the land without over- applying, accurate to within a few square feet.
I realize that certain things may change in our plans. Please keep the regulations flexible enough for the future operation.
Years ago when we had set-aside acres, I measured my acres for the set-aside program. I would seed it down and apply hog manure on this land, and in the following year plant corn or beans in the ground.
In trying to be a good steward of the nutrients, I was injecting the liquid manure when an individual from the SCS office stopped and asked what I was doing. He then informed me to stop injecting manure and spread it on top of the ground because injecting it was considered tillage, and tillage was not allowed on set-aside acres.
My hands were tied even when I was trying to do the right thing. In this case, doing the right thing environmentally resulted in a warning, that if I didn't quit doing this, I would lose my set-aside payments. So I complied by spreading on top of the ground against my better judgment.
In closing, I'm trying to do the right thing for the environment, my family, my neighbors, and my operations. We want to use our animal nutrients as an asset to save fertilizer. This would make my operation more profitable.
Thank you for your time and listening to a farmer's point of view.
DR. JOHNSON: Jack Parrish and Mark Schmidt.
MR. NICKLES: Thank you for the opportunity to testify in front of this committee today. My name is Blaine Nickles. I'm a farmer from Wright County, Iowa. I'm a former livestock producer. Just a little bit of background, in 1994 I was appointed to the Governor's task force to study the environmental consequences of livestock facilities on the environment, and recently this year I was appointed to the ACO committee, which is an advisory group to the Iowa DNR. With that, today I'm representing myself and my neighbors in Wright County and Lincoln Township where we live.
In the last few years we've had a big influx of large CAFOs in Wright County. For instance, in our county and two adjoining townships to our county, there are enough farrowing facilities to produce a million and a half pigs per year, and it's amazing to note that all of these facilities, a great percentage of them, are built near a drainage ditch, a creek or a river or ag drainage wells. Of course, the ag drainage wells are a direct conduit to our underground aquifers.
Also in that township there are 6 1/2 million layer hens within a three-mile radius, so there's a great deal of waste and nutrients produced by those animals.
We've had several instances already in our county of pollutants from these CFOs from runoff and discharges in tile into rivers and waterways and water courses from spreading the liquid on the land, the land was too wet or the ground was partially frozen, and also even observed them applying manure through muddy spots, trying to get the pits emptied, and this is partially what caused the contamination of the water level.
I have several points that should be included in the strategies. I think you should restrict the application of liquid manure on snow- covered and frozen ground. Now, I didn't say ban it, restrict it, possibly by using larger separation distances from water courses and rivers and streams; more stringent water monitoring on surface and groundwater, especially near the CAFOs themselves, and also monitoring of the production sites themselves. The EPA knows what kind of an operation was being done at that site.
Number three, let's place a moratorium on all earthen basins and manure lagoons that are built below groundwater level until we have more study on these facilities.
We do not believe that there should be cost-sharing, cost assistance from the NRCS or the EPA to large industrial-type CAFOs. There's been a great deal of talk about where the resource is going to come from to implement the strategies and who is going to police them. One of the ways for the voluntary program to work is to not give any government subsidies to an operation that has an environmental violation pending against them or a labor violation pending against them. I know this gets just a little bit away from the strategies, but it also is a way of volunteering the policing of the facility.
I have more, but I guess my time is up and I will submit that in writing, and I thank you for your attention.
MR. PARRISH: My name is Jack Parrish, and I had laryngitis yesterday but I still wanted to come down here and talk to you.
I feel like EPA has kind of sent us down the river. I belong to the Family Farms for the Future in northern Missouri and we are right now in legal battlement with the Premium Standard Farms. I have checked water, tested water coming off on the farms. I have not found water polluted off independent farmers. You can go like--I can take and pick any stream off the Premium Standard Farms and it is going either to be highly polluted in ammonia, highly polluted in nitrates, or it's going to be in phosphates.
Now, Becky was here with Linn County. She could have told you about the stream that comes from Sullivan County, goes clear down through her county, dead fish all the way. No fines.
Premium Standard Farms has a packing plant that the ammonia is off the scale. I can only go to 3 point million; 2.7 is illegal. They are clear off the scales every time you test it. Phosphates, I can only go to 3.3. Legally there's no setting of phosphates, but they say they get a little excited when it is .2. Not too many streams coming off the Premium Standard Farms is anywhere close to .2. It's up closer to 3.3.
They have their own water testers. They test their own water, they monitor their own system, and this is what we got, polluted streams, dead fish. I got a finger that's messed up because I stubbed it on a barbed wire that was spread. But it's not poisonous.
Mrs. Torrey was here and talked about how her neighbor sprayed on their land, PSF sprayed the effluent on their land. They not only sprayed it, they knifed it in, which is totally supposed to be illegal, you can only spray it, and yet when it rained, the ammonia was above 3 and the phosphates was 3.3. That's the effluent put in the ground and the rain brought it back up and washed it down into their pond that they sell fish out of. They monitor it themselves.
Now, independent farmers, I believe they've done a good job. There used to be a joke. I grew up in the cities. We used to talk about going to the country to get a smell of fresh air. I got news for you, Des Moines smells good. I go back to the country now, I wish I had Des Moines' air smelling down there because it don't smell very good in the country.
As the crow flies, I'm three and a half miles from 88,000 pigs. You don't open windows in the summertime when the wind comes in the right direction. You don't invite people there to eat or anything. I ain't smoked since '74 and I've got a cigarette cough from that smell coming in. Centerville, Iowa, is 18 miles away and they smell it. And yet they tell us that we're liars, you can't smell it, it's your imagination. How in the world can they smell it 18 miles away if it's a figment of imagination? They monitor it themselves.
I really think the EPA, instead of--the independent farmers and these corporations that could do things legally, even on their merit system, but companies like PSF that's been in business for ten years and continually continue to pollute the air and water, the land, no, they shouldn't be on a good-guy basis. They surely shouldn't be operating, period.
We have asked for public hearings on getting their permits and we're denied every time. We have not the right to have a public hearing on voicing our opinions on why we don't think they should get more permits. So no, I don't think they've got a good-guy reputation going for them.
DR. JOHNSON: Let me call again Brian Rohrig, and also Gary Hoskey and Jim Nedtwig.
MR. SCHMIDT: I'm Max Schmidt. I farm in northeast Iowa. I am a pork producer. I am also chairman of the board of the Iowa Pork Producers Association. I am vice-president of the Howard County Soil and Water District Commissioners. I want to speak--I guess I'm very time conscious because I have to get home tonight in four hours and do chores yet. I didn't expect it to be this late.
I have written comments that I wrote. I had six ideas that I wanted to pass on to you and so I'm going to pass those on as written comments, and I want to skip from them to respond maybe positively to some of the criticisms the EPA has had this afternoon.
Particularly as a producer who took a look at this on-farm environmental assessment, you know, when I signed up to do that, I had a little bit of intrepidation because what if we find some problems? I'm told it is confidential, but I'm not so naive to think anything is confidential today. But I did go ahead with it and I had from the NRCS two engineers and a private environmental specialist came to my farm and they spent 3 1/2 hours interviewing me about my practices and going through the facilities. They investigated everything on this farm.
I'm not eligible for the seal of approval yet and I'm not ashamed to tell you why. On this farm I have two new confinement hog buildings which passed inspection very well, two new nurseries that passed inspection very well, but I still use my old red barn with an outside feedlot. And when the rain comes down, three-inch rain, that feedlot gets washed off, and there's only a hundred head of hogs in there, and I knew this was coming. I need to build a diversion terrace around it. Today's hog prices--and I just completed this not too long ago. It's not going to happen for a while.
There is another reason for this. And this is to--keep this in mind when you read my things, we need some flexibility, because I have a little bit of a problem. I don't want to ask you as taxpayers and anybody else to help me to build that diversion terrace because I want to get out of that facility. If hog prices were $45, I'd probably be out of it in another year. So keep some flexibility in mind as you plan these regulations that we as producers who are going to be regulated can share with you what our plans are, but realize we may not always be able to carry them out.
Now, when we look at some of these things, flexibility was one thing, another thing is flexibility changed with the time. I never five years ago dreamed our industry would look like it is today, so we need to be shooting, instead of 1992 where the statistics were, where we think it may be going, so these rules are flexible enough to adapt as some of these things you've heard about here today come along.
Another thing you need is an appeal system in this, and I use an example. We had some wetland difficulty, and it was just simply a misunderstanding, but there was four Government agencies that had to come in and deal with this. We need something that's farmer friendly on all of this.
Financing is the last thing. I want to point out as a Soil District Commissioner, one farmer got all the EQIP funds in Howard County. That will not go very far.
DR. JOHNSON: Rex Oberhelman and Ken Choquette and Nancy Robinson.
MR. HOSKEY: Good afternoon. I guess it's good evening. I sure appreciate your hanging in there. Everybody was concerned that you wouldn't spend the time to hear everybody, but I'm glad that you are.
My name is Gary Hoskey. My wife and I have a general livestock and grain farming operation in Tama County near Montour. I'm also vice-president of the Iowa Farmers Union and a member of the Iowa Attorney General's Task Force on contracting. I would tell you that I am also a Farm Bureau member, have been for 37 years, and I was reminded of that the other day when I got a letter saying they were going to cancel my insurance if I didn't pay my dues, so I did that this morning before I came.
I am also very happy to be here today to listen and hear what you've got to say. I believe the facts are going to show, if you heard what everybody said, that swift action is needed to protect our environment as well as protecting the reputation of Iowa's family farm producers who are trying to operate in a way that protects our vital resources of people, water, air and quality of life.
It is indeed unfortunate that we have some producers who do not operate in a responsible way, and it is my fear that the long-term damage of their actions, when the general public becomes aware of it, will result in extreme restrictions on those who have operated properly.
Iowa, like many other states, is experiencing a huge growth in corporate hog factories. These operations have been helped by our Governor, the majority party in our state legislature, and unfortunately too many farm groups and producer groups.
The damage they are doing to Iowa, its people, its environment, and its way of life is dramatic. You've heard some of that today. You would not allow me to use the words that need to be used to describe the disgust so many of us feel for those who are prostituting our state, its resources, and particularly its young people to an agriculture that goes against everything that is American.
I'm supplying you with a copy, and I give a copy of it here, of an Iowa DNR pollution event report that happened in late 1997. It involves Iowa Select Farm's operations in Hamilton County, Iowa, called the Hines Finisher. I want you to note several things about this report. First note that the application was not stopped when the DNR official asked for it to after reviewing the tile outlet into the Branch Creek.
Secondly, note that the applicator states they were applying at the rate of 28,000 gallons per acre. The report says he believed that the manure management plan allowed for 50,000 gallons per acre to be applied, and it was already coming out the tiles at 28,000.
Third, please note the last sentence. It says, "I did not see any fish, live or dead, in the stream at any time." This report very clearly shows that in this instance a little more than half of what the manure management plan allowed was applied and it was already coming out the tile lines into the creek. If the full 50,000 gallons were applied, you would be looking at more than one gallon for every square foot, and if my figures are correct, that's nearly a two-inch rain.
Tile lines are put into the ground in a way that disturbs the soil structure so that the tile trench is the point of least resistance. By their very nature, tile lines are going to be the recipient of these large volumes of manure. The fact that there are no fish present should raise immediate questions. Are the smaller, undetected amounts that surely get into these streams like this one silently killing off the fish? I leave that answer to you.
Finally, to finish up, Ms. Humiston, you said, help us make it work. I think this shows that these large operations with limited land cannot work. They should never have been allowed. Perhaps Mr. Koch, the fellow with all the landlords, maybe he has enough land where he can manage to do this properly. But these people who go out and get easements and put it on the same land year after year when there is a limited number of application time, it is not going to work and it isn't working. And I think you've got to realize that.
It is an unsustainable way of raising hogs or any livestock. It goes against our God-given stewardship of the land and the water that is necessary for our survival, and the sooner that everyone realizes that, the sooner American agriculture can return to people-oriented agriculture, agriculture that has been the envy of the world and the success story of this country and of the world as well.
Thank you very much.
DR. JOHNSTON: Last call for Brian Rohrig and Jim Nedtwig.
MR. OBERHELMAN: They say patience is a virtue, and being last I guess is a virtue when we were the first ones here today.
My name is Rex Oberhelman. I'm a certified organic vegetable farmer from the land of Jesse Ventura. I live in Martin County, Minnesota, which adjoins Emmet County, Iowa, so we're neighbors.
Martin County has become the nation's largest pork-producing county, surpassing Sampson County in North Carolina. Six months ago I had the pleasure and opportunity of having Janet Goodwin from your office in Washington and Paul Shriner fly over our county in an airplane that we furnished for one hour looking at our situation.
Now, this is what they saw. In 1995, Martin County's production of pork was 350,000 hogs. Today its production is over 2 million. I have here a map. We have 55 lakes in our county, ten little villages, and one large city of 12,500 population. My friend, Loren Lee, who is here from Blue Earth, Minnesota, said if his shotgun had a pattern like that, he'd never miss a duck.
This is scary. We developed this mega operation, how I'll never know, because there's no way in hell a family-sized farm could increase the productivity that much. But if you look at Pork Powerhouse and Successful Farmer, you will see that Minnesota has seven of the top 50 pork producers in the United States. Martin County happens to be the home of Fred Cramer's operation, Hawkeye, and they merged with Pipestone, making them the 17th largest producer. We are neighbors to Seaboard. We have Val Adgo. We have all kinds of producers producing pigs. They own the pigs. And if you understand what phase and connect is, when you phase and connect all these dots, you would only see about 70 operations or operators.
Now, Martin County has only got 402,000 acres of tillable soil. We've got over 700 buildings that are 193 feet by 41 feet. Now, what these people did, they snookered you people. They said that they were only going to have 960 pigs in each building. That figures out to 8.75 square feet per pig. The pork producers, the pork furnishers, are making these buildings 6.5 square feet per pig, giving them the population of over 1200. Most of our sites have four of these 193 foot buildings by 41 on their sites, making them well over a thousand animal units. Martin County has no federal clean water permits. Something is wrong.
I had great hopes when Janet Goodwin and Paul Shriner were out there flying over the area, thinking maybe we would get something done. Then Janet sent me this. I studied it hard. You guys are going in the right direction but you're making some false assumptions. The assumption that you're making is--the false assumption that you're making is that the farmers own these pigs. That's wrong. You're making the assumption that the farmer has the land and is putting the manure from his pigs on his land. That's wrong.
The majority of these spots are on separate six- or eight-acre sites controlled by bankers and lawyers and outside investors. That's wrong.
The people that were producing the 350,000 hogs in our county in 1995 are no longer in business. And that's wrong. It's sad.
Where I live, I'm an organic farmer, live on a farm, a little five-acre farm, made my life raising vegetables, certified organic for the last 30 years. You can look out my living room window and you can see 26 of these buildings. Not a nice situation.
I see my light's on. But you guys have got to stop micro-managing agriculture from Washington. You set the rules and regulations and let the local people at the state and local county township level enforce the laws. That will work. The trickle-down theory doesn't work. The flow-up theory will work.
There's two more points I want to make and then I'll get the hell out of your hair.
The point is there are solutions to these problems. If we work together as united people-- the pork producers, the EPA, the Department of Agriculture--we can solve this problem overnight and turn it into a profitable operation rather than a nonprofitable organization.
We happen to belong as a partner/member to Ag Star, which is one of your divisions. We've worked for over two years developing systems and we need some attention from you people to become partners with you.
I'm going to leave this map with you people. My name and address is on it and we're begging to be your partner and help with this problem. We need to hear and be able to talk to you face to face, man to man, not for five minutes but for 20 hours.
Thank you very much.
DR. JOHNSON: We have arrived at the last person who wishes to make a statement. Thank you, Nancy Robinson, for waiting until last.
MS. ROBERTSON: Mercifully my statement is short. If you're like me, I'm hungry and tired and need to get something to drink.
Panelists, I thank you for providing this forum for the public and the livestock industry to comment on the USDA-EPA Joint Strategy on Animal Feeding Operations. I am Nancy Robinson, Vice-president for Government and Industry Affairs for the Livestock Marketing Association. LMA represents more than 900 livestock auction markets, commission firms, and livestock dealers throughout the United States.
Actually, it wasn't that many years ago that the marketing sector was made aware that many of our operations were considered a concentrated animal feeding operation. Quite honestly, we didn't then and don't yet know exactly how we fit within the definition of a confined feeding operation as we neither feed nor confine animals on a continuous basis. Livestock markets as you may be aware are very different in size, scope and operation from the type of CAFOs intended by Congress to be point sources of discharging pollutants to waters of the U.S.
Unlike concentrated production facilities where animals are fed and maintained on a continuous basis for extended periods of time, markets or sale barns, as they are often referred to, typically house livestock for one to two days a week. The majority of animals are onsite at a market for less than 24 hours, and feed and watering is kept to a bare minimum. Also, many markets are 50 to 80 percent enclosed or covered, further reducing the level of discharge. However, EPA requires that all animals be counted regardless of whether some are undercover or not.
Unfortunately, none of these unique differences between a marketing facility and a feedlot are considered when determining whether our operations fall under the definition of a CAFO and the national pollutant discharge elimination system permit is required. Hence, many relatively small to mid-size intermittent non-producing market facilities are required to meet the same effluent guidelines as the higher risk AFOs, such as a feedlot or a dairy operation. Thus, it is easy to see why many of our marketing facilities who are forced to put into place very costly and burdensome pollution control measures complain when the neighboring feedlots with fewer than 300 animals but with higher concentrations of waste and discharge are not required to have an NPDES permit because they don't fit into an arbitrary definition of a CAFO.
Previously, when attempting to get the EPA to consider regulatory changes that would address the marketing sector's unique circumstances, we were told we would have to wait until the agency initiated a more thorough, all-encompassing review of the CAFO regulations. With the development of the joint strategy, that effort now appears to be well underway. We are happy for that because it means that our concerns may now finally be addressed in a meaningful way.
The joint strategy calls for a more targeted risk-based approach to minimizing potential public health and environmental impacts of AFOs. That is what the marketing sector wants as well. To that end we stand ready to work with both agencies to achieve a practical, cost- effective, environmentally sound program that will respond to the marketing sector's unique situation.
LMA will likely have additional comments on the joint strategy, but I will reserve those for our written comments to be submitted to you later.
Thanks again for the opportunity to present our views.
DR. JOHNSON: Thank you. There were a couple people's names who I called who were signed up that didn't come forward. If you were signed up to make a statement and you didn't come forward, this is your last chance.
Charles Whitmore will give us some closing comments.
REMARKS BY CHARLES WHITMORE,
MR. WHITMORE: Let me just say thanks to all of you and, Stan, we want to thank you for getting us through it. It has been long but it has been good; a good diverse group, good diverse comments, and for that we are very appreciative.
Let me just take a few minutes and then I'll see if Peter or Glenda want to make some remarks as well.
We do appreciate being able to come together like this with you and with the U.S. EPA folks as well as U.S. Department of Agriculture people. I think this was a very important dialogue, one that is truly needed, and we really appreciate--USDA and EPA appreciate the time and the effort that you all have put into this.
Coming forth with your comments and staying here until the end is showing the kind of passion that you have for this issue, and that's really what it takes.
I want to make sure that I leave no doubt in your mind that there is commitment for this strategy or a strategy similar after we get all your comments into it. There is commitment on the part of the Secretary of Agriculture, the administrator of the EPA for protection of the agricultural industry, for protection of the land, for environmental quality, for clean water, and the quality of life for people who live in rural communities.
And there is passion for that as well, and hopefully by the kinds of input that we have had from you today, and it has been diverse, that we will be able to get it right, get the strategy right, and get it right the first time, and what I mean by right, we need to have a win-win for all the things that I said that there was a commitment for: A win for livestock, for the family farm, a strong industry for this region and for the country as well; for land that is healthy, and we know what comes from a healthy land, because all of us have to use it for our own well-being; a win for the environment and again for the life of the people out there in the rural areas.
I think all of us can agree on those things, and as I listen, I saw the kinds of passion that you have for the kind of quality environment in communities and the land that you really want. And I think that's good.
We will listen. We have taken all of it in. And we have comments that will go forward and be a part of the--will be considered for the final strategy, and I'm pleased to sit here and listen and learn, and it's been enjoyment for me and I am hoping that all of you had the opportunity to speak about what was on your mind.
So again let me close and give Peter and Glenda an opportunity to let you know that we appreciate your comments, your input and suggestions, and hopefully we will have in the end after consideration of those comments something that will work for us.
Peter and then Glenda?
MR. ROBERTSON: Charles, you said it all. This is our best-attended session, listening session, so far. We're grateful to you all for your help in helping us make this a better product. Thanks very much.
MS. HUMISTON: I would just echo those comments. I know that I myself have learned a lot today. I'm from Colorado and California and a lot of the agriculture that has been discussed today is something I'm learning about. I've been in this job for five months now and as you might imagine this was one of the first projects on my plate.
But I just want to tell you I think it is great that you all took the time to come here today and talk to us. We did learn a lot. I wish we could promise that we are going to solve all the problems you raised today, but I don't think that's realistic. First of all, some of the issues you raised today do need to be dealt with in different strategies than this one actually, and actually there are other strategies out there that we are working on, so I think there is some hope that we will work together on those.
Part of it is going to be the legal authorities that we have, the amount of funding, and I want to just close with emphasizing what I said earlier, the Federal Government is not going to solve this problem. We need each and every one of you. It's got to be a partnership: Federal, state, local, public, private, agricultural, environmentalists, urban, rural, all of us. That's what will give us the sustainability we all want.
MR. WHITMORE: With that, we thank you all and have a safe trip.
(Proceedings concluded at 6:50 p.m.)
PETERSEN COURT REPORTERS