| March 16, 2009
A Penton Media, Inc Publication
Both the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) and National
Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) have expressed disappointment with
a recent federal court ruling that upholds a U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA) decision to regulate dust on farms under the
Clean Air Act.
NPPC and NCBA were among organizations that had asked the U.S. Court of
Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in Washington to review
EPA’s decision to regulate emissions of coarse particulate matter
(PM), or dust, in rural areas. The organizations had argued that while
EPA identified problems with coarse PM in urban areas – where it is
mostly the byproduct of engine combustion – it failed to show any
health effects associated with rural dust, which comes mostly from
naturally occurring organic materials such as plants, sand and soil.
While recognizing the distinctions between urban and rural PM sources,
EPA nonetheless decided to regulate agricultural operations for coarse
PM. NPPC points out in a recent news release that a 2002 National
Academy of Sciences report found that there were no scientifically
credible methods for estimating emissions from animal feeding
The appeals court accepted EPA’s decision as “reasonable.” In
rejecting arguments from livestock organizations, the court adopted the
so-called precautionary principle, placing the burden on the livestock
industry to prove that its operations are not harming the public or the
environment. Said the court: “In assessing the scientific evidence,
the [livestock organizations] have mistakenly equated an absence of
certainty about dangerousness with the existence of certainty about
safety.” Prior to this decision, EPA had the burden of showing there
was harm to human health and the environment that needed to be addressed
and of explaining why its proposed regulation was necessary to address
Under the regulations, livestock operations can be treated as stationary
air emissions sources and can be required to obtain emissions permits
under federal and state laws. As a result, farms could face monitoring
for particulate matter such as dust from dirt roads and fields, from
cattle movements in feedyards and for chemicals, including ammonia, that
can form particulate matter. They also may be subject to Clean Air Act
“new source review” requirements any time a modification or
improvement is made to their operations.
Tamara Thies, NCBA's chief environmental counsel says, “We are very
disappointed with the Court’s decision. There is no scientific
evidence that agriculture dust causes adverse health effects, and its
regulation under the Clean Air Act is completely unjustified.” NPPC
Environment Committee Chairman Randy Spronk, a pork producer from
Edgerton, MN, agrees, stating, “EPA issued the revised air-quality
regulations despite acknowledging that it lacks any science to support
imposing them on livestock production operations, and that apparently
was okay with the court. More troubling, the court is requiring that we
prove a negative.”
Spronk continues, “We still believe that it simply is inappropriate to
treat the naturally occurring emissions from an animal agricultural
operation in the same manner as emissions from power plants or
refineries.” EPA issued the particulate matter rule in 2006, before a
two-year emissions monitoring study of animal feeding operations got
underway. The study, which is expected to be completed by January 2010,
was part of a 2005 agreement between EPA and the livestock industry.
Data from the study is to be used by EPA to develop scientifically
credible methodologies for estimating emissions from livestock
operations and to promulgate new compliance standards and guidelines.
More than 2,700 animal feeding operations, including 1,900 pork farms,
signed the so-called air consent agreement.
“Applying this new particulate matter standard to agriculture mandates
a solution before deciding if a problem exists,” Spronk says.
Michael Formica, NPPC’s chief environmental counsel, addresses the
economic implications, "This is a bad decision that will have a profound
and long-lasting impact on the struggling American economy. Farmers,
business owners, workers and consumers struggling to put food on the
table will be harmed by the court’s imprudent decision to use the
‘precautionary principle’ in determining the need for a particular
Visit the NPPC web site at www.nppc.org/. NCBA information can be
found at www.beefusa.org/.
Now’s the Time to incorporate a Slurrystore System into your nutrient
management program. Slurrystore is compatible for any system whether
your goal is long term storage, nutrient retention, green containment,
digesters or manure processing. Plus Slurrystore Systems include the
added feature of agitation to help ensure nutrient consistency. Click here or contact your local
Authorized Slurrystore Dealer for more information.
State and foundation grants exceeding $3 million will assist
Michigan State University (MSU) researchers in developing technology for
smaller farms to turn animal waste into usable heat, electricity and
other valuable products.
MSU’s planned Anaerobic Digestion Research and Education (ADRE) Center
will consolidate new and existing programs in a planned
3,280-square-foot building at MSU’s expanding farm animal and
environmental research complex. Researchers aim to develop and
commercialize turn-key digester/microturbine modules for affordable
waste-to-power systems for small and mid-sized farms.
Farm waste management is a growing issue due to concerns over food
contamination, pollutant runoff, odor and, most recently, greenhouse gas
emissions. Petrochemical cost spikes, meanwhile, have added to
farmers’ costs for fertilizer and fuel. The MSU ADRE Center will
develop ways to efficiently convert manure liquid into methane for heat
and electricity while extracting fiber for soil enrichment or ethanol
manufacture and water for irrigation. Other valuable output could
include animal feed and algae, which can be processed into biofuels.
Anaerobic digestion is not a new concept, and has been applied in recent
years by some large dairy farms to generate power. Development of
scalable, modular systems could allow smaller farms, those with fewer
than 500 head of cattle, to convert waste into valuable resources.
The ADRE Center also is expected to house a recently created farm energy
auditing program that could conduct digester/power system feasibility
studies for dairy clients. It is slated for completion by mid- to late
Learn more about the new facility and exciting research possibilities
online at www.egr.msu.edu/age/.
Engineered Storage Products Company (ESPC) announces the re-launch
of both the Harvestore.com and Slurrystore.com web sites featuring
simple navigation and increased information capacity. Site visitors can
quickly get in contact with authorized Harvestore and Slurrystore
dealers through new features such as the “Request-a-Quote” function
and “Dealer Locator” applications.
Tony Thill, director of Marketing and Business Development for ESPC,
says the new websites meet the technological demands of today’s
farmer. “Farmers are more connected than ever, and a major goal of
ours from the beginning was to make sure we kept their needs for fast
service in mind. The new ‘Request-a-Quote’ form basically seats the
user right in the office of one of our authorized Harvestore or
Slurrystore dealers without the hassle of scheduling an appointment," he
Harvestore.com and Slurrystore.com offer product information and allow
users to read success stories from real Harvestore and Slurrystore
owners and browse a comprehensive library of product data and services
for either system.
Visit www.harvestore.com or www.slurrystore.com.
Are you getting optimum value from your ag nutrients? Ensure an even
nutrient blend and consistency with every load using a Slurrystore® and
its center agitation system. There’s no better choice for long term
ag nutrient storage. Now’s the Time for Slurrystore. Click here or contact your local
Authorized Slurrystore Dealer for more information.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation
Service (NRCS) announces the application period for 2009 Conservation
Innovation Grants (CIG) funding has been extended to March 20. The
previous deadline to submit applications was March 2.
The Conservation Innovation Grants are aimed at helping achieve and
promote innovation in critical areas such as water quality, energy,
climate change, and pollinator habitat.
Up to $20 million is available for this national competition, with
awards divided up into several categories. The technology category will
provide up to $6 million for proposals in new technologies that promote
such areas as animal waste management, erosion control, grazing land
productivity, irrigation water use, fertilizer use, energy use and
carbon sequestration. Other categories and specifics about application
requirements are explained in more detail online at www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/cig/.
Project proposals must describe the geographic area and the natural
resource concern or concerns being addressed. Applicants also must
describe the innovative technologies or approaches which will be used.
NRCS plans to fund projects targeting innovative on-the-ground
conservation, including pilot projects and field demonstrations. The
grant is not a research program, but rather a tool to stimulate the
adoption of conservation approaches or technologies that have been
studied sufficiently to indicate a high likelihood of success and are
likely candidates for eventual transfer of the technology to the public.
Applications must be received in the NRCS National Headquarters by close
of business March 20. Learn more at your local USDA Service Center. View
the complete announcement of program funding at www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/cig/.
To apply electronically, go to www.grants.gov/.
Expected lower fertilizer prices in 2009 may lead to an increase in
corn profitability relative to soybean profitability, according to a
University of Illinois (U of I) Extension farm financial management
specialist. "Difficulties within the financial sector became apparent
last fall. The financial meltdown, along with public perceptions of
economic problems, has led to concerns that a deep, world-wide recession
is occurring," says Gary Schnitkey. As a result prices of many
commodities have declined dramatically in the belief that demands for
those commodities are being reduced. Among those commodities seeing
declines are wholesale fertilizer prices, according to the U of I
He explains, "As of yet, prices farmers pay for fertilizers have not
decreased as much as declines in wholesale prices. In fact, retail
prices have not declined much at all in many areas of Illinois.
Non-declining prices are attributed to large unsold fertilizer
inventories held by many retailers." Schnitkey says retailers will lose
money on those inventories if they follow wholesale prices down.
"While retailers will suffer financial losses, there are incentives for
farmers to delay purchasing fertilizers, waiting for fertilizer prices
to decline. Waiting to purchase fertilizer poses some risks to farmer,"
Schnitkey states. Supplies may become limited if suppliers curtail
production. Geopolitical events could also impact prices. "The point is
not that these or other events will occur, but that there remain risks
for higher fertilizer prices," Schnitkey states. "As farmers make
planting decisions, up-to-date fertilizer prices should be used in
calculating relative profitability."
Schnitkey's report, "Fertilizer Prices Likely to Decline in 2009," can
be found online (www.farmdoc.uiuc.edu/manage/newsletters/fefo09_02/fefo09_02.html)
on U of I Extension's farmdoc website.
New conservation practices, weather-related manure releases and
manure storage capacity are among the hot topics on the program at the
2009 Livestock Manure Management Conference workshops scheduled for
March 24 and 25 in Effingham and Princeton, IL.
"The vegetative treatment area (or VTA) standard is a new tool that can
be used for managing wastewater, such as feedlot runoff or water coming
off an outside feed storage area," explains Ted Funk, Extension
specialist and director of the conference. "There will be research-based
numbers on how large to make the area, what soil types work best, what
grass species work well, and what the limitations are. If producers are
going to use this practice, they'll learn how to put it to work."
A panel has been set up to discuss manure storage capacity planning, and
several producers will talk about how they deal with challenges related
to rainfall and full storage systems. Funk says another session of
particular interest to swine producers will be a discussion of the
status of key Illinois livestock court cases. "A large swine facility in
Illinois had a water line through the wall of their manure pit fail and
a lot of manure was released. As a result, the Illinois Department of
Agriculture made a change in their rules and now you can no longer have
pipes going through pit walls," Funk states.
Funk expects the discussion to provide a forum for people in the
industry to see why the rules changed, and what the effect is going to
be. "The effect on new construction will be substantial. The cost and
complexity of construction - taking water pipes over walls and not
through them - will rise significantly. But the environmental risk is
lessened, so the increased safety is a good thing," Funk says.
A producer panel will talk about manure marketing. In addition, the
workshops will cover current Farm Bill programs, the latest technology
for manure management and precision farming.
Each workshop will also host a trade show featuring vendors who offer
the latest in manure management equipment and services.
Workshop dates and locations include Tuesday, March 24, 2009 at the
Knights of Columbus Hall in Effingham, and Thursday, March 26, at the
Wise Guys Bar & Grill in Princeton. The workshop costs $40. Registration
begins at 8:15 a.m. and the first session starts at 9:00 a.m. Lunch will
be provided and the workshops adjourn at 4:00 p.m.
Pre-registration is necessary. Call 800-345-6087 before March 17 to
guarantee your space. The workshops are sponsored by the University of
Illinois, the Illinois EPA, and the Illinois Pork Producers Association.
While the idea of on-farm manure digesters and energy production on
American farms is a fairly new trend, the technology has been used on
European farms of all sizes for years.
Manfred Faatz, Triesdorf, Germany, has operated a biogas plant on his
own 120-cow dairy farm for nine years. He also conducts training
workshops for farmers and industry on biogas production. His workshops
include tips for appropriate technology usage, maximizing biogas
production, and the economics of production.
Faatz is scheduled to speak at the Midwest Manure Summit at Lambeau
Field in Green Bay, WI, on March 24 and 25. His presentation will focus
on the development of the agricultural biogas industry in Germany. He
will provide an overview of the direction the industry is taking in
Germany, and will speculate on how the United States could use a similar
In addition to Faatz’s presentation, the two-day 2009 Midwest Manure
Summit will feature university and industry manure experts from around
For more information or to register, please visit www.midwestmanure.com or contact
conference coordinators Paul Dyk at 920-929-3170 or Mark Hagedorn at
920-391-4612. The event is hosted by University of Wisconsin-Extension
and the UW-Extension Dairy Team.
Legal issues in agriculture will be the focus of a one-day Ohio
State University (OSU) Extension conference on March 25.
Peggy Hall, director of OSU Extension's Agricultural and Resource Law
Program, says, “Operating in today’s agriculture requires legal
knowledge. This program will help farmers and others understand
important legal issues that impact agriculture.”
Ohio Agricultural Law Conference will feature sessions taught by
attorneys on legal risk assessment issues, authority over large
livestock operations, using flexible farm rental agreements, Ohio
conservancy district law, farm business planning strategies and will
feature an agricultural law update.
The conference will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the
Lighthouse Banquet Facility, located at 10055 W. US 224 in Findlay, OH.
Registration is due March 20. The fee of $30 per person, and $20 for
additional family or company members, includes lunch and materials. For
more information or to register, visit www.aede.osu.edu/programs/aglaw
or contact the OSU Extension office in Hancock County at 491-422-3851.
eHay Weekly is a weekly compilation of prices and marketing
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Send Comments & Questions To
Dale Miller, Editor,
National Hog Farmer
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